Hit a moving target. That is one feat I’ve always deemed impossible. However, when I had the chance to experience pigeon (or clay) shooting during my family’s visit to Flathead Lake Lodge I thought I’d give it a try. Clay shooting is one of the activities offered by the lodge – think optional excursion on a cruise chip. The lesson is with She Shoots Clays.
Jennifer, a competitive shooter, runs the operation, and as soon as we met it was obvious she is absolutely passionate about her business. Her goal is to make women feel confident pulling the trigger of a shotgun. The classes she hosts through She Shoots Clays are designed only for women for a reason. She explains that women learn and hold a shotgun differently than men. Offering a female-only class also makes the women feel more comfortable, plus we’re able to support each other and cheer each other on.
We departed from the lodge and rode the safari-like jeep up the mountains to a secluded area where two automated pigeon machines were set up.
Jennifer gave us a gun safety briefing. She explained how to hold a gun and explained that anytime someone passes a gun they will tell you whether the gun is safe (not loaded with ammo) or loaded (with bullets ready to fire).
Some women take the class not with the goal to hit the target, but just to say they shot a gun. “It’s about the experience,” says Jennifer. And experience it is. Whoever was shooting geared up in a vest and each of us wore eye protectors and ear plugs. When the shooter was ready she shouted, “Pull!” We took turns pushing the button that triggered the disc to fly across the sky like a bird. The shooter then did her best to make contact. In this photo Jennifer is setting up the discs.
I volunteered to go first and let’s just say I didn’t “get” it. I’ve always had good eye-hand coordination, but for some reason I just couldn’t hit that dang clay. I finally surrendered to the next lady. Her name was Pat and she had never held a gun in her life, let alone shot a moving target. Well, that day she made contact (hit) the first four shots she fired. Seriously. It was so exciting to see the discs disperse as she stood in shock yet welling with excitement. She found a talent she didn’t even know she possessed. It was fabulous!
When it was my turn again I tried and tried. I would get close, so close! But missed and missed and missed. I believe it was my third round then suddenly as I looked down the barrel I let the shotgun vanish and instead saw the landscape. I yelled “Pull!” and the clay came flying. Then I shot it. Like that. It felt easy. I missed the next one, but hit the next one. At that point all of the missed targets were forgotten. My vision had changed and so did my experience.
If you’re looking for a new experience, I suggest you give clay shooting a try, even if it’s only to shoot a gun. If you stay at Flathead Lake Lodge or visit Bigfork, Montana be sure to look up She Shoots Clays. You never know how many you will hit, but regardless, you will walk away with a story!
Thank you, Jennifer, for introducing me to clay shooting. It was a wonderful experience!