Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Who needs Karaoke on the cruise ship when you can play with firearms?

It's official, we've kicked off the '07/'08 J Family shooting season. All six of us drove out to Coplay, PA to make good on a belated Father's Day gift. Before I get started, I would like to point out that two things seem to be true.

1. People think my family is generally a little weird and,
2. They also think shooting is reserved for rednecks.

#1 is true. #2 Not true - Sporting clays date back to the early 1900’s in England to keep hunters in practice and Skeet was created in Massachusetts in 1920 for a similar reason. I don’t believe either of those places had any rednecks – SO THERE. And yes, I realize that it’s a fairly unusual hobby for a family from the ‘burbs, but we are most certainly not hayseeds. I’m finished, I’m starting to sound defensive. The better question is "how did this happen?". I’m not entirely sure how my father started shooting, but I can account for the rest of the family.

The story starts like this…For my parent’s first Christmas my father bought my mother four snow tires and a shotgun. I would imagine she was a bit perplexed since he was a city kid and it’s a little weird (at least I would have been if it were me). According to her, she responded with “Well, I understand the snow tires but what am I going to do with that gun?” He told her he was going to teach her how to shoot. This may well have sent any normal female wondering if she married a lunatic, however this was my mother and she was not easily phased. Thus many years of happy shooting ensued for both my parents who ultimately became pretty good shots. Which brings me to my next story…

A few years after they were married my father decided he wanted to take a cruise. He told my mother that he was taking a cruise and that if she wanted to come she had better wean that kid. So she did and they went. My mother claims the kid was me, but to the best of my knowledge my parents have been on one cruise and I remember them going (so I couldn’t have been 9 months old – the age I know breastfeeding stopped*). I remember this cruise because my mother had some seriously 80’s one piece strapless pants outfit with a stretchy waist and billowy legs .. you know the one I’m talking about.. it could have only been pulled of in the 80’s. My mother will likely argue with me on this point (the age, not the pants suit) and insist that despite the fact that I am the child who remembers nothing I some how have a vivid memory of this from the age of 9 months old. Not likely. I bet it was my sister. It doesn’t matter either way since my mother will never admit to not remembering things. I digress. The real point of the story is that my mother came home with a trophy.

Apparently in the 80’s, and I’m not quite sure if this is still true, they allowed you to shoot trap off the back of the ship. This seems rather reckless and far too crazy to happen in today’s safety conscious cruise environment (they can’t even keep people from going missing let alone give them guns) but in the 80’s they apparently didn’t care. My father enlisted my mother to enter the shooting competition. She was the only woman in a long line of men. The guy running the event explained to her how to shoot the gun like she was a toddler. She didn’t bother to correct his assumption. After several rounds of elimination it was just my mother, some guy and a gun. She turned around to find women on each deck of the ship cheering her on. At the end of the day she kicked all their asses and got a trophy. Go Mom.

So given the history, it only stood to reason that I got my first shotgun at 12. I went shooting a few times and then disappointed everyone by moving onto boys and high school. For many years the J Family was quiet. Then my sister, who had never shot a gun in her life, decided she wanted to shoot. 3 months later everyone was shooting, we joined the gun club and Dad gave us all firearms under the tree that year. Mom says he always wanted to give a boy his first gun. Two son-in-laws, neither have even held a gun before, sorta like a twofer.

Anyway, after many months of shooting skeet, we figured it was time to branch out. We told Pop we would take him to shoot sporting clays. We made the haul up north past Allentown to Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays for 100 rounds of fun. It’s an old limestone quarry in the woods and was the best 35 bucks that I've spent in recent memory. It also didn't hurt that I was on fire that day. Or as my mother likes to say "the hormones were just right". She's convinced that certain times of the month throw off your game. There may be some truth to that since I can shoot like a rock star one day and a half blind idiot the next. Although I didn’t win (congrats to my sister who hit 70 out of 100) I did have 5 stations worth of straight report pairs. Yay me.

You can count on the next few months involving many weekends spent at the gun club. Yes, we are the loonies in the subzero base layers firing away like a bunch of happy idiots in the snow. It’s really fun except I need warmer socks. Last year I think I almost lost a toe or two. I can always find a reason to justify shopping and the coolest place to shop for shooting stuff is Cabellas. Its like a sporting goods store on steroids. I think everyone should take a trip up there, it’s fun to ‘git yer redneck on every once in a while. (To put it in perspective, they have a furniture section that is entire dedicated to camouflage La-Z-Boys.)

So if anyone needs any orange warning gear or perhaps a nice rifle scope, let me know. Here’s hoping for a good season – perhaps I’ll finally crack 21. Wishful thinking…

*Hey girlie, and you know who you are. Wouldn’t it be funny if this was a tragic slip up in my mother’s story telling and it turned out I was breastfed until I was like 5. Perhaps my trauma is deeper than yours and I’ve blocked it from my memory. MAYBE my bitchiness is really just a PTSD thing manifesting in some weird dysfunctional way… just a thought.

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