First let me tell you about her... picture this: nice pants, tank top with crocheted pullover, huge hoop earrings, high heel boots and blond hair poofed way up...Yep, that's how Sandy Nunnally showed up at her first lesson. To this day I still get a laugh out of it.
Her son had convinced her that they needed to pheasant hunt as a family. That it would be fun. Again, this is a woman who used to run if a goat looked at her! She could clear a four board fence in a single bound if the donkey brayed at her. Her son prevailed.
Well, Sandy finally did agree to the lesson and was taking her first one from a friend of mine several years ago. He called me and said why don't we surprise her and you trap for me during the lesson? Well, our Little Miss Prisspot Chicken Doo did not know the instructor at the time. I had arranged the lesson. She had directions to the shooting field, which required a long drive down a dirt road. Mid-way down the road she thought about Deliverance. She was alone and headed to meet a man she did not know in the middle of who knows where. With sweaty palms and thoughts of turning around, she rounded the bend instead and saw me waiting there for her. I am sure those were tears of relief as she had just seen me the day before.
When she got out of the car I just giggled and she said "what??" I told her she had to lose the hoop earrings before I was going to push the first button. Not that I don't bling it up myself but good gun mounts come first!
Now watching this lesson was even funnier. She first held the gun like it was going to break, then when she got it up to her shoulder the expression on her face made me wonder if it stunk or something and the first time she pulled the trigger, the squeal of delight was priceless. You should have heard her when she started breaking clays. That of course happened when she decided to open her eyes and pull the trigger.
As she was guided through the lesson and watched as the clays broke, she would look over at me convinced I was "pinch shooting," that I was actually shooting at the same time and breaking the clays for her. "Are you sure you didn't do that?" she would ask.
Those were the early days. Now, well over two years later, she can hold her own on the shooting courses. If you mention the remote possibility of shooting, the gun is thrown in the back of the car, along with three shell pouches (have to be sure they match the outfit) and the all essential gear like snacks, gum, hair spray, lip gloss, sunscreen and oh yes, and shotgun shells, eye and ear protection and more shotgun shells.
She is always up for whatever adventure comes our way. This is a woman who started with a 28-gauge shotgun because she did not think she could handle the weight of a 12 gauge. Now she can more than handle the 12 gauge. This is a woman who traps for me for every lesson and cannot get enough of shooting. This is a woman who two years ago was afraid to drive a golf cart.
Today she powers around a John Deer Gator and loads targets in the machines. She helps me set up target presentations. It has been such a joy for me to watch her find she can do things she never dreamed of trying. To see her confidence and empowerment evolve, all from those first days of learning to shoot a shotgun onward. It gives you a sense of independence that is hard to describe but wonderful to see grow.
Yesterday she helped me catch and hold a new baby donkey and stayed right there through the braying and all.
Until next time, keep shooting.
Elizabeth Lanier is an NSCA Level I instructor based in Virginia. Please send your questions and comments to email@example.com.