Periodically I try to test myself with something different sporting-wise. When I was turning forty I swam 100 yards against the national breaststroke champ just to see how close things might turn out (not that close). Earlier this year I took advantage of my brother's invitation to go skeet shooting, and while Heminway probably would have spit in disgust, I admit being fairly pleased with the results and encouragement I received from my nephews at dinner afterwards. I know my nephews Ian and Ryan certainly deserve any "Eagle Eye" monikers better than I, but hey, they shoot a LOT.
Qualifying things just a little, skeet has a semi-circular concrete pad with five stations and 'birds' come out of 'high' or 'low' houses to either side. The trickiest shots are when they come out together from opposite sides of course, but the speed (about 40 mph) and location are always consistent. Last month I got to test my skills at Rocky Creek in Richburg, SC, and this time it was sporting clays, a very big difference--a total of 12 stations with a muuuch wider range of situations. Those situations include 'rabbits' (targets that roll along the ground), 'report pairs', where the trapper releases the B target after hearing a first shot, and TRUE pairs meaning they come out together, do what you can about them before they land or get too far away. There are considerations like wind and background coloration that enter in as well, and that is an obvious difference between trained/young eyes and novice/definitely old eyes; I didn't even bother wasting shells shooting at a wooded station where, even after watching my nephew Ryan and brother Steve, I had no clue about the targets until I heard them land.
My biggest flaw isn't that I shoot left-eye, although that required borrowing a Baretta over-under so I didn't have shell casings eject across the front of my face. "You have to get on it sooner Uncle Glenn" Ryan offered after the first time; "Remember to move the barrel some to distribute the shot, its not a rifle!" Ian added, but some habits aren't easy to overcome. The safety factor, because this IS real lead, is easier to gain because you get made aware of every time you don't follow the rules, so you remember to 'break' the gun to carry it and don't turn towards people even if you're sure there's no live ammunition in the barrel.
Feeling good about an 'official' 39/100 was aided by the fact I powdered 4 of 6 'extra' ones at the final station when I used the shells I didn't use earlier. That I was so proud about knocking off 7/10 on the first station wasn't diminished when Steve smiled and said, "Yeah, you get a long time to see them, coming from across the field and then left-to-right, and its designed to get your confidence up early." I only got shut out (0/10) on one station, but if thats like putting a couple into the water and taking a drop en route to a snowman in golf, I've been there, done that.
As for those "eagle eye" nephews, if I wasn't overly impressed with Ryan when we shot because he 'only' had a 54, he proved that everyone can just have a bad day. He's got quite a reputation as a 'Rookie' shooter already, and he shot 73/72 on consecutive days while his 3-man team (So. Carolina champs) had a 387 at the World Shooting & Recreation Complex in Sparta, IL, good enough for 3rd place, just off second at 391. Ian, who is in the Sr. Advanced category, shot 83/87, with his team's 513/600 putting them 6th of 52 (first was 560).
I don't know that I'll ever get the opportunity to shoot at anything live, or that I'd want to put the effort into trying. A wildebeest or lion on safari? Fugidaboutit! although a camera might be a 'killer' shoot of another kind. I've heard an awful lot of stories about guys carefully waiting through cold and boring days to get a shot at a deer, turkeys are supposed to be WAY too smart for a guy like me to get, and ducks/geese, where you sit in a blind or field and if they see your face they just wheel away, thats not as fulfilling as even an hour worth of jump shooting in my book.
As a personal challenge though, I'm definitely for getting on the course again. At least I now have a 'baseline' score to judge things against.