All in the Family
How could I deprive my son of enjoying my lovely new shotgun?
I’d had my eye on the beautiful, little 28-gauge over and under for some time. It was light as a feather with 28-inch barrels and an exquisite grain in its walnut stock, unusual in a Ruger. They usually tend toward the plainer grades of wood.
It captured my affection. I thought it ideal for a bit of light clay shooting, a challenging arm for doves and a perfect quail and grouse gun. I had to sell off a couple of other items to make room for it, financially as well as spatially. But at just about the time it became available, I was ready.
Toting it home last Friday, I tried to be unobtrusive, hoping to keep the gun to myself for a couple of weeks before anyone else in my household noticed it. I was out of luck. I had forgotten that attempting to be inconspicuous in my house is the surest way to get attention.
My son Rob a 14-year-old who normally wouldn’t notice a full room of furniture being carried in and out materialized beside me as I passed through the front door. He wondered what was inside the long canvas case.
I reluctantly showed him the lithe, little gun. His eyes lit up. “Wow I want to shoot this one. Please, can I shoot it tomorrow?”
I was surprised. I had taken him to the skeet range on numerous occasions, but he had never made such a fuss about any of the shotguns we used.
Grudgingly, I agreed, though I wasn’t all that keen on sharing. Next morning found Rob, his friend Tim Astrom, who was staying over, and I at the Anne Arundel Fish and Game Association clay target range. This club is one of the gems of Annapolis, in fact all of Maryland.
Located within 10 minutes of downtown Annapolis and in operation since 1939, it is a 40-acre outdoor sporting oasis in this increasingly crowded urban landscape. Its skeet and trap fields are open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays (Google Anne Arundel Fish and Game). Meticulously maintained, it hosts a number of shooting sports, but the skeet field has always captured me.
The Game of Skeet
Skeet is an American shotgun-shooting sport that originated back in 1915, when it was called Shooting Around the Clock. It is laid out in a semi-circle about 25 yards in diameter. Two houses are situated one at either end of the half circle.
The high house at the left end throws a clay disc target, or bird, that starts out 10 feet high and moves at about 60 miles an hour. The low house at the opposite end starts its target three feet high. The trajectories are calibrated to cross in the middle of the field, almost between the two houses, at about 15 feet off of the ground.
The skeet field has seven stations around the perimeter from which the clays are targeted. An eighth station situated directly between the two houses provides an ultra-challenging, quick overhead shot. A round of skeet follows 25 targets.
An Olympic event in a slightly modified form for the last 50 years, the sport has long been popular worldwide. It is excellent practice for live field shooting and one of my family’s favorite activities.
Shooting the Birds
Rob started out red hot with the little Ruger, powdering six straight birds before he began to think he couldn’t miss. Then of course he did, but not often.
Tim, shooting a borrowed 20-gauge, missed a few clays at first. Then his youthful reflexes took over and he was powdering the birds right along with Rob.
Yours truly brought up the rear, banging away with an old 12-gauge not my lovely new Ruger offering advice and trying not to shoot too badly.
As closing time approached, out of the corner of my eye I watched as Rob reluctantly settled the little gun back into its canvas case. He tucked it affectionately under his arm and started toward the truck.
I felt a little like the guy that had brought a pretty girl to the dance only to see her spirited off by another. But I’m sure we’ll work it out; after all, it’s still all in the family.