Bang! Dead Pair! Jul16


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Bang! Dead Pair!

We saw a couple over and unders and a few pump-action, but most of them were side-by-sides that day at Black Dog Clays. Pull! Dead lost! Dead pair! These were the human calls that rang through the air in between all the gun shot cracks on the day we volunteered at the 10th Annual Ronald McDonald House Sporting Clays Tournament in Boise.

Boise is a big, little city, if you know what I mean. Miles of suburbs surround two handfuls of tall buildings downtown that stretch up to 10 or 12 floors at most and the hustling part is limited to an 8 by 9 block square of streets. Nonetheless, it offered up plenty of fun and good food for Ali and I on our first night in town.


Ali had done some research on restaurants so we walked the 8 blocks through the city reading menus and checking out the ambiance before we decided to spread ourselves around town a bit. We started with drinks and an appetizer at the Red Feather Lounge, then sunk ourselves into big leather club chairs in the lobby bar at the Grove Hotel for dinner. The piano player there was incredible and we had a blissful time sharing each other’s entrees and trying to stump him with song requests. After that we walked back to the Feather to share an order of Beignets & Butterscotch that had caught our eye. It was that damn sauce that lured us back.


The next morning we drove for nearly an hour up into the hillside to the Black Dog Clays facility. Our volunteering event started at 12:30 with a BBQ lunch provided for us beforehand. We packed a couple of healthy sandwiches instead since we’d consumed at least 3 days worth of calories the night before. We got registered, found a table, and began the gawking.

A month earlier, when Allison was telling me about the volunteering options in Boise that matched up with our 3 days there, she offered up an animal related thing or this clay shooting tournament. Guns are not really our thing, but the fact that it benefited the Ronald McDonald House meant a great deal to her. She and her sister stayed there for a while when their mom was getting her bone marrow transplant in Davis. It took about 2 seconds to decide that we’d already helped animals and that the shooting tourney would probably be a once in a life time experience. Sign us up!

So there we were, staring with incredulity, heads on swivels, mouths agape, mental absorption faculties on high, chewing turkey sandwich bites absently, while we tried to take it all in. I thought I’d be blending well by wearing my cowgirl hat that I bought in Wyoming, but it was all baseball caps, nice shirts and dark sunglasses. There were just a couple of big belt buckles there that day, these guys were more your urban sport shooters. It’s an easy call to say that the most fascinating site were the carts that looked like jogging strollers set up to carry 2 guns and ammo boxes. Ali took a break from her sandwich and headed out on a covert mission to snap a picture of them for the blog.



I found myself sitting there thinking about the horrible irony of seeing a device that I only associate with carrying children, instead carrying guns and ammunition, the things that had killed 20 children in Connecticut not too long ago. But I had to stop myself IMMEDIATELY. That kind of black and white thinking about guns is exactly the pinhole-sized view I hate about both sides of the gun argument. Most of these guns were actually quite beautiful in design, wood with silver inlay, some with double-triggers, no automatics. The people using them are obsessive about safety and as we would soon find out, incredibly friendly, helpful and very genuine. Anyway – no need to dwell on the gun drama. Suffice to say we threw off the dead bolts on our mind’s doors, and like we would our first day at a new job, we entered sponge-mode and prepared to soak it all up.


Ali and I were assigned to a shooting station, one of 14 in the course, where Ali was to man the electronic control that released the clay pigeons and I needed to track and score the hits and misses for each shooter on the team. It’s scary, or rather let’s call it uncomfortable, to not know ANYTHING about a job you are about to perform in 15 minutes. Ali and I are smart girls, so I wasn’t so much afraid of our ability to capture and process the info, I was more nervous that the info wouldn’t be delivered in a complete enough fashion. I mean we knew less than NOTHING! What if they didn’t account for two chartreuse-green horns in their training prep. Not to worry, the training, while brief, covered all of the critical aspects of the job just fine.

Ali had to click two buttons on a remote box. When a team walked up to our station she would wait until they were all gathered and the first shooter was loaded and “in the box”, then she would give them all a preview of the path of the clays. She’d fire them both off, no shooting. Then when ready, the shooter would call pull, telling Ali to release the first clay pigeon, and then upon hearing the first shot fired, she would automatically release the second pigeon. Our clays flew in two different low paths over a nearby hill, but the smart shooter (and Ali and I) figured out quickly that they actually crossed the same spot in the air just in different timing from the release. However, not every clay flew the same, some of them sank quite fast which always got a big round of “Ho, boy!” from the teams.


My job was to keep my eye on every clay and record whether it was hit or missed on each shooter’s card. Simple enough right, except there was a lingo to my task that I didn’t quite absorb during training. It didn’t come across as a hard rule when presented, so I fluffed it off. You’re supposed to call out the results as you record it, so that the shooter knows what you’re writing down and can discuss it with you if you got it wrong. I started out using the terminology that seemed most obvious to me – if they hit it I called it a hit and if they missed it I said they missed. DUH, right? So I was yelling out Hit, Hit or Hit, Miss. That didn’t last long. The second team of guys that arrived at our station let my sub-par shout outs survive for just one shooter. After I called out “Hit, Miss”, I was gently instructed about the proper terms by a very charming, handsome older man who was about as tall as my shoulder.

A hit pigeon was “dead”, a missed pigeon was “lost”. OH!!!! And you didn’t bother with saying the same word twice, if both clays were hit you said “dead pair” or conversely “lost pair”. I grinned and he grinned and Allison grinned and I only stumbled a couple times after that. My eyes were so engaged with the task of watching the flying clay disk fly apart or not that they bullied my mouth into the background for a few minutes. But soon enough, all body parts were engaged and performing optimally and I was looking good in my cowgirl hat.


It was an incredibly long four hours of standing on a windy hill. Our ears got sore from the ear plugs, and our feet and backs hurt big time, but the view was great, the newness of it all was so exciting and the men, and 3 women, who were giving their time for charity were wonderful.

We all need water, breath and food to stay alive, but we need new experiences in order to really live.