It is Winter on Marylands Eastern Shore. It is the week between Christmas and New Years. There’s a convoy of 3 vehicles, with 6-8 high school/college buds headed across the Bay Bridge and we are not speeding towards salt water and the beach or green fairways and a small white ball. We are about to engage in a lesser known Maryland Sport called, “Sporting Clays”. You can call it Skeet & Trap shootin’. You can call it “Golf with a Shotgun”. Or you can refer to it, as we do ……….”Blastin’ a clay disc into oblivion with a gun”. Sporting Clays is almost the same as Skeet & Trap, except that the clay disc comes out from different directions, at different stations, at different speeds.
It is 8:30am. It is cold. We are in a field. We are novices. Six out of the eight of us, shoot a gun, once a year. It is cold. We are not playing golf. We are not at work. We are with friends. We have guns. It is cold. We are “Livin’ La Vida Loca” – (Ricky Martin). This is not our sport of choice. Except for the two sharp shooters, that have their own guns and yes, an embroidered shootin’ vest. This is simply an excuse to get together, relax, breathe that crisp eastern shore air and blast away. That gunshot smell is pretty cool, too.
Earplugs, safety on, load shells, safety off, aim, yell pull (as manly as possible), pull trigger, BOOM - BOOM, (sorry gang, no “out go the lights”), then there is a hit, but usually a miss of the elusive flying clay. You curse at “the bird”, “the rabbit”, “the pigeon”, your so-called friends that are laying into you relentlessly, or the guy doing the “pulling”. Then you quickly re-load and get ready for the next round. Actually it is quite challenging. And with successful “hits” or ”blasts of the discs”, comes that sense of accomplishment, followed by adulation from the same guys who were looking for a broad side of a barn for you just 2 minutes ago.
There are a few nice shooting ranges/courses on the eastern shore. There are also some on this side of the bridge. If you haven’t tried Sporting Clays/Blasting, I highly recommend it. The real deal is simply, “an excuse to get together”. Use sports as an excuse. The e-mail banter leading up to the event, ain’t to shabby either. We golf in the Spring/Summer. We shoot in the Winter. Here’s part of the crew:
You will get cold. Cold enough, that at the end, your fingers are so frigid, you can barely put the shells into the gun. You will also need a ”Safety Officer”. He’s the guy always leaving the safety on as you pass the gun, so when it’s your turn to shoot, you get set, you get all fired up, you yell “pull” and there is no shot. More cursing. It’s awesome. You can’t fault “safety first”. Your shoulder will hurt, especially the next day. You will be cold well into the night, even after a shower. It’s all worth it.
Sporting Clays on Marylands Eastern Shore in the winter. Try it. It’s good for the soul. Happy New Year and Decade.