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Shooting Skeet

Shooting Skeet

There are two old movies that inspired me to learn how to skeet shoot. Both have strong female characters who are shooting for funsies and looking totally badass. The first is Hitchcock’s original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), which opens with a British family on vacation at a Swiss hotel. The wife enters a skeet shooting competition, shooting over the snowy ski slopes. The second is the 1965 Bond movie Thunderball, in which the villainess is shooting over the water from her villa on the island of Nassau. Disparate characters, but both cool, collected, and great shots.

A quick Google search helped determine where I should go, knowing that I needed an instructor, don’t own (nor plan to own) a shotgun, and didn’t feel like spending a lot of money or traveling far: Thunder Mountain Trap and Skeet in Ringwood, NJ. It’s located in Ringwood State Park (humorously, it’s directly down the road from a chapel), just over an hour’s drive from the city. There was no wait or need to make a reservation, though you may want to if you’re not going in the dead of winter. Gun rental is included when you buy ammo and clay pigeons, the orange, flat discs you’re aiming to hit. So all told, you pay for bullets ($9.50/25) and targets ($14/25) and a tip for your instructor, who is also the person launching the pigeons.

On a normal range, the pigeons are launched to the left, to the right, away from you, or straight up in the air. On the practice range, however, the pigeons are always launched away from you to make it easier. Which I needed because I hit only 2 of my first 25 targets! Undeterred and having fun, I ended up buying another 75 rounds.

I’d like to say that with practice I hit more than 4 targets in the next 50, but that’s not the case. I did get more comfortable with my stance—where to place the gun on my shoulder, which eye to close, where to look—as I’d started off by needing to remind myself of each component at every shot and was casually bringing the gun up, ready to shoot, by the end. I also liked getting to say “Pull!” à la the villainess in Thunderball, as well as discharging the casing after every shot.

With the last set of 25 targets, I had my moment of glory: I hit 6 targets! I don’t know that it was because I was improving though. I’d started at dusk, which is arguably a difficult time to see anything (hence that’s when deer come out). But as it turned dark, the facility turned on the floodlights, which highlighted the bright neon orange flying discs. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it. It was great to end on a high note.

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