Biographies and Stories

In her sexy black dress and four-inch stiletto heels, no one could have guessed her secret passion.

But finally, she revealed it to a handful of men at a private party -- changing the course of her life forever. This story begins in January 2003 in a trendy section of Dallas. Anginette and her girlfriend hosted their annual soirée. The cocktails were chilled, the hors d'oeuvres extravagant and the guests straight from central casting of a smart Hepburn classic. The warm glow of the house against the evening bespoke of hospitality and elegance.

Anginette mingled in the swirl and buzz, making introductions, spreading her hallmark gaiety, relying on the same wit and charm that propelled her through a career as a successful mortgage broker…when the doorbell rang.




She crossed the room to answer the door, and there stood Mark Jorrey. She graciously invited him in and mixed him a cocktail, then led him through the party in a round of introductions. It was the first time they had met, and Anginette lived up to her reputation that new acquaintances should always feel right at home.

Later in the evening, as she carried an armful of coats to the upstairs bedroom, she passed a small group of guests -- Mark being among them. Bits of conversation caught her attention. She paused, calculating her options…Should she interrupt? Bring it up later? Or just forget about the whole thing?

She continued up the stairs, rolling around in her head exactly what she heard. It was something that she’d been dying to try.

Coming down the stairs, she politely interrupted their conversation. She would confess to them that she overheard her conversation. If they were accommodating, great. And if not, well at least she tried.

She Confessed Everything

She approached the group and confessed everything. She had overheard them talking about duck hunting, and that was something she really wanted to do. She’d been an avid dove and quail hunter, but never quite got the chance to shoot ducks. Could she come along with them? She could really hold her own in a duck blind. She wouldn’t be a bit of trouble. Just consider her one of the guys. Well, what do you say?

The men checked out the dress, the heels, the makeup -- and for a moment they were speechless.

Finally, Mark explained that in fact he was the one going duck hunting the next morning, and that he would have to speak with his friends and get back to her.

She thanked him and returned to being the perfect hostess -- everything the same except for one tiny thing: now her secret was out.

No Girls Allowed

Sure enough, when the phone rang the next day, Mark gave Anginette the bad news. Guys only -- no girls allowed on this duck-hunting trip. They had already told their wives, no girls. Then he surprised her by asking Anginette to dinner. She said yes.

Nine months later, they were married.

“Having something in common really adds to our relationship,” Anginette said. “We are best friends and we do not have to look far when we want to go shoot some clays. We just say, ‘want to go’”?

So she packs up her Beretta 390, and Mark takes his Remington 11-87, and they take a five-minute drive to the Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek State Park.

Now that the word is out about Anginette’s secret passion, they’ve been making the most of it. As Mark explains, “We have a turkey hunt planned for later in the year and I said my wife is going and my friends said no problem.”

The Colorado DIVAS

Anginette’s world of bird hunting has really opened up since relocating from Dallas to Denver in mid-2006. By virtue of bringing her organizational experience from Dallas, she’s introducing a new group of Denver women to the shotgun sports.

The way it happened is that in Texas she was a board member of the Texas Women’s Shooting Sports/DIVAS. The charter of the group is to teach women and help women learn about shooting sports and outdoor skills -- shooting, fishing, archery…you name it.

Since moving to Denver, she started the Colorado chapter of the Divas and today it has members who actively shoot and bird hunt. Last year, the Colorado Divas took four women on a pheasant hunt with a guide “who loves new shooters,” Anginette noted. Since then, there has been a second pheasant hunt.

This year there are plans for a turkey hunt, duck hunt, dove hunt and shooting clinic for new shooters. They also have a monthly shooting day where women can come and practice shooting with other women.

Even though she’d been around guns all her life (she grew up on a ranch in Texas), when she turned 40 she started looking around for something different to do. She tried softball along with other sports, but nothing really satisfied her.

How Anginette Got Hooked

Then one day a girl friend who was a shooter gave Anginette the name of a woman instructor. That was in 2000. Anginette wanted to learn the etiquette and rules in the shooting sports. Soon, she was hooked. After that first lesson her instructor suggested Anginette join the DIVAS. Today Anginette is working with women in Nebraska and Pennsylvania in helping new DIVA chapters get started.

And as the group’s International Liaison, they have their eyes on launching chapters in every state as well as outside the U.S. (Divas already has 17 international members).

Even though Anginette takes the lead in Divas, she appreciates Mark’s full support of her shotgun endeavors. “As I implement outings, hunts and shooting days for local women under the Diva umbrella...he is right there with me helping,” she said. “He knows he doesn't have to, no expectations from me, he just does. And I greatly appreciate him and his help with all our events. I enjoy catching him in a conversation with other men about Divas and how important it is to get women out shooting. More importantly, I appreciate his support of my shooting and hunting.”

In fact, Anginette believes there are plenty of women around like her who like enjoy shooting, but tend to keep it to themselves -- especially those women who aren’t fortunate enough to have a supportive husband like Mark.

Shooting Isn’t Lady-Like

“Women have been raised to be lady-like, and not participate in such things,” Anginette observed. “And let’s face it, in this politically correct world, shooting is perceived to not be lady-like.”

But the times are changing -- for the better -- when it comes to women and the shotgun sports. “Now women realize they like to shoot and they can shoot. They love the camaraderie. Just watch a woman’s face when she shoots for the first time with other women shooters, and you know they’re thinking it’s just great to break that old taboo. And they’re still ladies.”

She talked about a professional networking event that she attended recently, where everyone had to reveal something about themselves. She stood up in a roomful of people and confessed that she likes the shotgun sports. Sure enough, she received plenty of emails afterwards from women wanting to find out more.

Good for Their Relationship

As far as Anginette and Mark are concerned, shooting is a great way to keep a relationship going.

“He encourages my shooting and hunting,” Anginette added. “He wants to shoot and hunt with me. Not because he thinks he has to, because he wants to. Some husbands don't encourage their wives and daughters. They don't mind if the women do, they simply do not encourage it and usually this type of man would rather go off on his own or with the boys and let the little ladies go do their own thing. I am blessed we do it together. He's the hunter and I am the shooter.”

When the Jorreys do go their own separate ways, Anginette goes off to shoot clays or birds, and Mark will hunt big game. Mark’s pursuit of big game got him actively involved in several wildlife organizations.

For Mark, “clays is about getting ready for hunting season.” In particular, he enjoys shooting pheasants in Texas. Recently he was shooting pheasants in South Dakota. Anginette and Mark spent a couple of days with friends pheasant huntin . Mark said that when he got back the other men said “We didn’t know women could hunt like that.”

Mark grew up a hunter in tiny Heath, Texas, just east of Dallas. As a boy “We could always go to different places to hunt on people’s places. We’d hunt lots of small game.”

Mark would be out all day and get home just before dark. As far as the Jorrey’s are concerned, children today do not have that luxury any more. They believe kids need to spend more time outside and out of the city -- where shooting and hunting can be an excellent way to encourage discipline, self-confidence, and caring for things other than one’s self.

Anginette’s Revenge

When it comes to duck-hunting, though, this time girls are most definitely invited. Maybe it should be called Anginette’s revenge.

It turns out that one of the guys who put the nix on Anginette’s duck-hunting invitation doesn’t stand a chance any more of doing that ever again. Anginette taught his wife and son how to shoot on a trip out to their family farm. They loved it. Mom’s a good shot and has even built her own collection of firearms. The son, as it turns out, is a born hunter. Now the entire family shoots together…just like Anginette and Mark.

“Shooting is an excellent outlet for getting out and being together,” Anginette said. “And being together is something we really like to do.”

Michael Sabbeth
by Irwin Greenstein

The years passed in Colorado, he got married, had kids, and had not picked up a shotgun in nearly a decade. That would’ve been around 1970.

Now it’s 1996, and Michael Sabbeth vividly recalls that pivotal moment in the Denver suburb of North Cherry Creek…

“I’m in my law office, it’s lunch time and I get out and walk to a sandwich shop. That’s when I run into my friend, John, who I hadn’t seen in several years since he moved to Florida.

He had been a very dear friend who was a stock broker. He was an avid shooter, competitive trap. And we used to shoot together. After he moved away, the shooting sports became very ephemeral for me.”

The two old friends were catching up when John invites Michael over to his apartment.

“When I go over there, it’s covered with gun magazines, guns, reloading supplies…you name it. It was there that I picked up my first issue of Double Gun Journal. I had never seen anything like it, and I was very intrigued. I leafed through it, this world of elegant guns, travel, clothing, leather -- it all came at me like a sandblaster. I asked if I could borrow a few issues. John then made a comment: ‘You want to be a big shot? See if you can get published in this magazine.’ There was no reason for him to say that because I never expressed any interest in the magazine. I had never written about guns. But as I looked the magazines over the next several weeks, I had an intuition that if I could get published in that magazine, something good would happen, something elegant and out of the ordinary in my life.”

And over the ensuing weeks Michael did in fact come up with an idea to submit to Double Gun Journal. The topic? Teaching the ethics of shooting to children.

“They sent me a handwritten card that they would publish the article, and not pay me for it. That’s how I got involved in the gun trade.”

Journey to Spain

After that breakthrough article, Michael’s next assignment for the esteemed Double Gun Journal took him to Spain for a story about the exquisite gun maker, Kemen.

Michael traveled to the town of Elgoibar. “That is one of the two gun-making cities in the Basque region, in the province of San Sebastian. I called my wife, Nancy, to tell her I was OK. She asked where I was. I told her a tapas bar and she blew up -- thinking that I was at a topless bar,” he says, laughing.

After the Kemen article, Michael says he got his first big break in writing about shotguns.

Visiting Beretta in Italy

In 1999 Beretta acquired Benelli and Franchi. As a foundational advertiser for Double Gun Journal, Beretta offered the magazine an exclusive about the merged company. Double Gun Journal turned to one of their long-standing writers, but something went sour with the writer. That’s when editor/publisher Daniel Côté turned to Michael, who flew to Italy for a week-and-half on an all-expense paid trip to cover the story.

With that trip, “I had to ratchet up my understanding of shotguns voluminously,” he recalls. “That started me writing about many other guns. And as a consequence I was received warmly by gun makers and then transformed those relationships into articles.”

Michael believes that his deeper understanding of shotguns played a role in synthesizing his collected passions into a whole way of life.

“The great things about the shotguns, it has given a purpose for many disparate and unrelated aspects of life…food, wine, travel,” he says “I’m now seeing things that I would not have seen. Exquisite sunsets, a double rainbow -- the collegiality -- and meeting some of the esteemed craftsman and women on the planet. All of which has enriched my life immeasurably.”

And an enriched life is the one thing that Michael does not take for granted. In 1989, he survived surgery for an artificial heart-valve implant. “Being close to death made me value those people who strive for excellence in their craft: the heart surgeon, the chemist, the biologist, those people who created the artificial heart valve, and all of those wonderful nurses and staff who were so competent and expert who allowed me to live. I felt very blessed to have survived, and I thought, now that I've had this good fortune, what can I do?"

Repaying a Cosmic Debt

To repay his "cosmic debt," Michael developed a curriculum that teaches ethics to elementary school children. While recovering from the implant, Michael crafted a course to make it easier for young people to more critically analyze the consequences of their choices, with the hope that they will ultimately make the right choices as they get older.

He started with the students at Cherry Hills Elementary School in his hometown of Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.

From Michael’s perspective, ethics is shorthand for applying moral reasoning to problems such as racism or peer pressure. It’s a form of character education to engage students to work hard to reduce bullying, sexual harassment and drugs in schools.

In effect, Michael uses current, historical and personal events in the lives of the children to frame an ethical theory. His approach is to stimulate conversations about issues that most adults believe are over their heads.

The conversations allow the children to use terms such as the "sanctity of life" and "beneficence.” What Michael achieves is a format that helps them understand how to make choices, that in turn can help other people, and help elevate humanity.

11 Concepts

At the core of Michael’s curriculum are 11 ethical concepts that he calls The Moral Measures..

Four of them are universal ethical principles drawn from the writings of Aristotle and biomedical ethics. They are autonomy, beneficence, justice, and sanctity of life.

The others are the "Seven C's," which Michael devised. They are character, choices, compassion, competence, consequences, conscience, and courage.

Michael has since conducted his program more than 500 times. It has gone beyond children to first responders as well. His efforts have garnered him an impressive article in the Christian Science Monitor in 2002.

His ethics course also set Michael on a path of what he calls the “political aspect of gun ownership.” He has become involved in Second Amendment issues -- lecturing nationally.

“I’ve become politically involved in the general field of selectively defending and advocating gun ownership rights,” he says. “That involvement with guns as an advocate, has enhanced many relationships, and is generally very well received.”

Among Michael’s accomplishments, perhaps those most cherished are the friendships he’s developed with the most elite shotgun makers in Italy.

The Craftsmen of Gardone

It started in 1997, when Michael and his wife traveled to Switzerland and Italy to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. After racking up miles of skiing in the Swiss Alps, they took a train to Milan…and then to Gardone, where craftsmen have excelled in making fine shotguns for more than 500 years.

Through introductions from Double Gun Journal, he met Italy’s greatest artisans of the shotgun craft -- many of whom are still his friends today.

There was engraver extraordinaire, Mauro Dassa. His company Incisioni Dassa has engraved numerous Beretta premium shotguns, including stunning new SO 10 models, which can cost upwards of $80,000.

Dassa then introduced Michael to other Italian shotgun legends.

Ivo Fabbri, who at the time made shotguns in the basement of his house -- using state-of-the-art computer systems. Fabbri shotguns then started at $90,000. At the 2008 Safari Club Convention, they were selling for over $250,000. Making only 30 shotguns a year, Fabbri’s clientele include Steven Spielberg, Tom Selleck and King Juan Carlos of Spain.

There was Piotti Fratelli, who is widely respected as among Italy's premier gunmakers. Their shotguns and rifles are made to individual order -- tailored to meet the customer's specifications. The result is an elegant gun that has been rated among the top-10 shotguns produced in the world today.

He also met Elio and Remigio Bertuzzi. The brothers learned to build shotguns from their father and grandfather. Working in a space no bigger than a garage, they only make 10-15 shotguns annually -- each one a collector’s prize.

Michael also visited FAMARS di Abbiatico y Salvinelli. In their small factory, they helped usher in the computer-designed artisan shotgun replete with stunning, old-world engraving. Starting at the $25,000 price point, a stunning .470 N E Express double rifle sold for $165,000 at the 2008 Safari Club Convention.

From Vail to Italy

But one of Michael’s greatest memories is about the improbable connection between a modest Beretta semi-automatic shotgun and Beretta’s Patriarch, Ugo Guassalli Beretta.

The story starts on a road trip to Vail, Colorado in 2001. He was going to drive his daughter, Alexandra, then 13, to a friend’s bat mitzvah, when he remembered that Piney Valley Ranch Sporting Clays Club. was about 20 miles west of their destination. He asked her if she would mind bringing a book to read so he could shoot afterwards.

After the bat mitzvah, as they approach Piney Valley Ranch, his daughter said that she would rather go shooting with him than sit around and read. The only shotgun he had on the trip was a Dassa-engraved Perazzi that weighed about 8½ pounds. Michael knew it was too heavy for his daughter. Fortunately, Piney Valley Ranch just took possession of a new Beretta 391 Urika youth model 20-gauge shotgun, an ideal shotgun for his young daughter. They went trekking off into the mountains to do some shooting.

Well, not only did she run the first station, but she “creamed” the course, Michael says. “She was outstanding. I was stunned.”

The following month, he was Beretta’s guest for a week to write an article for Double Gun Journal about the seven extraordinary shotguns and rifles built as a surprise gift honoring the birthday of Ugo Gussalli Beretta. On the afternoon of his last day there, he found himself in a large conference room behind the world-famous Beretta museum. In attendance is the family patriarch, Ugo Gussalli Beretta -- a direct descendant of Maestro Bartolomeo Beretta who started the company in 1526.

As they are admiring the collection of shotguns on the velvet-covered table, Michael began telling the story about his daughter’s incredible sporting-clays game at Piney Valley Ranch.

Realizing that the Urika youth model was constructed merely 200 yards away in the Beretta ‘industrial’ facility, and in a moment of inspired enthusiasm, he ordered the shotgun directly from the boss himself, Ugo Gussalli Beretta. Michael’s only request was that the names of his two younger children, Erik and Alexandra, be engraved on the receiver -- one name on each side.

“Then, Mr. Beretta, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in Europe, excitedly said ‘We put today’s date on the gun.’ Michael recollects. “Here’s this industry titan and he’s as exuberant as if he’d just made the largest sale in the company’s history. It was a magical moment. Now I have the gun, but more importantly I have the story. The cost of the gun was not at all that much, but the story, well, that is priceless.”

Useful resources:

http://www.kemenarmas.es/web_en.asp

http://www.fabbri.it/

http://www.piotti.com/

http://www.famars.com/

http://www.doublegunshop.com/doublegunjournal.htm

http://www.clayshootingusa.com/readers/archive/jul_aug06/Modern%20Classics.pdf

http://www.pineyvalley.com/shooting-sports.shtml


http://www.berettausa.com/product/product_competition_guns_main.htm

http://www.beretta.com/
Alesandro
Was it because he used to cut class to go shooting? Was it because his father was a champion skeet shooter in the Army? Was it that darn Remington 1100 of his? He was shooting 100 straight in skeet -- and that was no fluke. His vest was covered with patches. What’s up with that kid, anyway?

His Father’s Beretta

Well, Alessandro credits his father, Rinaldo. In fact, Alessandro still owns his father’s first shotgun, a Beretta SO3 that he bought in Brescia, Italy, while stationed at Fort Darby there.

The Beretta SO Series marked the company’s entry into sidelock over-and-under shotguns. The elegant design of the lock work has only five basic parts, plus three pivot pins and a single screw -- in an attempt to make the shotgun extremely reliable. The minimum number of parts, and a chrome-plated action, made the SO Series smooth and easy to use.

Alessandro recalls that his father paid $300 for the SO3. These SO3s are no longer in production and today can bring in upwards of $5,000 -- with some exemplary combo sets demanding nearly $10,000.

That Beretta SO3 was the Vitale family’s introduction into shotguns. Rinaldo had emigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy in 1961 at age 16. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and then found himself stationed back in his native country -- this time, in the Tuscan region surrounding Florence and Siena. He became a small-arms training Sergeant and fell in love with firearms and cooking.

Rinaldo befriended many local chefs and restaurateurs -- enabling him to become a restaurant success story in Maryland. Today, along with Alessandro, his older brother Sergio and their mother Regina, the Vitale family operates Aldo’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy and Cibo Bar and Grille in nearby Owings Mills.

The 10-Year-Old Skeet Shooter

While laying the foundation for the family’s culinary legacy, Rinaldo continued to pursue skeet shooting. He joined the Loch Raven Skeet and Trap Center in 1971 -- the year before Alessandro was born. But by age 10, the kid practiced skeet with his father. Firmly planted on stations 1 and 7, Alessandro kept shooting away at targets with a pint-size .410.

The kid graduated to his first gun, a Remington 1100 Sport in 20 gauge. That was the shotgun, in fact, that really got the goat of the Loch Raven shooters. Alessandro recalls shooting several 100-straights with it. As he got older, he completed a full set of Remington 1100s, buying them in .410, 28 and 12 gauge.

Alessandro thought he would be a Remington 1100 guy for life until his first visit to Italy to spend a summer with family. Like his father, Alessandro found Italy to be a turning point when it came to shotguns.

It was 1988, and he was shooting skeet and trap. That was the year Enzo Ferrari passed on, and Alessandro remembers the entire country went into mourning (Of course, Alessandro had no way of seeing into the future when he would become a Ferrari owner himself.)

Love at First Sight

But that fateful summer Alessandro laid eyes on his first Benelli M1 Super 90 semiautomatic shotgun -- the civilian model. “It was love at first sight,” he recalls.

With its black synthetic stock and forearm, and the optional magazine extender, the thing looked like a riot gun. Italy’s famous voluminous paperwork, though, prevented him from bringing it back home with him.

So he started calling just about every gun dealer in Maryland (this predates the Internet) until he found a small gun shop in Maryland’s Eastern Shore called Vonnie’s Sporting Goods in Kennedyville that had one left in stock.

Alessandro was there in a heartbeat. It was the bomb: matte black finish, 18.5-inch barrel, imported by Heckler & Koch. He shelled out about $800 for it, twice the price of a Remington 1100.

Just by looking at it, you could tell the Benelli M1 Super 90 was way ahead of its time. The shotgun incorporated a patented, super-fast, recoil-inertia system compared to the more usual gas-operated systems found in most other semiautomatic shotguns.

The engineers at Benelli had figured out how to perform both extraction and ejection into a single mechanism using something called a rotating bolt head. A model of shotgun innovation, it uses only three components: the bolt body, the inertia spring and the rotating bolt head.

Fires Five Rounds Per Second

The reduced mass of parts makes the system extremely fast and reliable. Alessandro said the shotgun was capable of firing five rounds per second without ever jamming.

And because it uses recoil rather than spent gas to chamber the next shell, the system stayed clean -- a big benefit for Alessandro.

As much as he loved the Remington 1100, the gun consumed a lot of time in maintenance. He still bemoans the cheap rubber O-rings used to seal the barrel. It was a twenty-five-cent part when he used the shotgun all the time; and once the O-ring broke the shotgun went kaput (that only happens once before you learn to pack extra O-rings).

Then there were the gas ports that needed to stay cleared. And the oil had to be just right when he took it waterfowl shooting -- or too much moisture in the lubricant would jam up the shotgun.

Out Shooting on the Farm

These are common complaints among the legions of loyal Remington 1100 owners who now swear up and down that the factory improved its quality control. (Plus you can buy after-market O-rings that may be more durable.)

Still, back then, Alessandro grew reluctant to take his Remington 1100 hunting. When it comes to the Benelli M1 Super 90, Alessandro swears the dirtier it gets the better it shoots. That’s why he now owns almost every model of Benelli shotgun -- his collection is up to about 20 models.

He’s also a Beretta aficionado. Add it all up, and he has some 35 shotguns in his gun room.

There are plenty to go around as Alessandro shoots with his father and brother. The family owns a farm on the Eastern Shore and leases others for waterfowl hunting. And the three Vitales get out there whenever they can to shoot geese, ducks and even doves.

In addition to his shotguns, Alessandro loves his cars. Ferraris, BMWs, Mercedes -- he’s had them all -- the top-of-the-line, tricked-out models that nail you to the seat when you floor them.

Not that the old crew at Loch Raven expected anything less from Alessandro.

Useful resources:

http://www.lochravenskeettrap.com/

www.aldositaly.com

www.cibogrille.com

http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/shotguns/model_1100/

http://www.benelliusa.com/

http://www.benelliusa.com/firearms/inertia.tpl

http://www.berettausa.com/

http://www.berettaweb.com/Premium%20Guns/prima%20pg.htm

http://www.berettaweb.com/sezionati/sez%20SO.htm

http://www.mdisfun.org/planningamarylandvisit/outdoors/ huntingandshootingsports/
Outdoors-Hunting-ShootingSports.html


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_F430

Shotgun Life Newsletters

Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letters are for you.

Shooting Tips, Gear & Shotguns

In a riverfront honky-tonk deep in the South, the sliding doors open to the verandah, women sat on bar stools wistfully blowing cigarette smoke at the stars.

It was the kind of forlorn place where a man could bring his bird dog and let it curl up on the floor between the stools, and you could never tell which one stunk worse - the man or the dog.

Time was of no consequence in this place, here on the river, in the darkness, where the hours and minutes were marked by the bug zappers incinerating their random catch. Yes, the Universe was clearly at work, here, now, in this honky-tonk where men and women wandered in drawn by the Big Mystery.

I never did get the name of that bar, but there's one thing I'll always remember about that place. It was where I first met Jim and Bugsy.

Their table was heaped with the remnants of peel-and-eat shrimp and empty beer bottles. I'd accidentally bumped into a corner of the table on the way to the john, a bit sodden myself, when I whirled around to see Bugsy splendid in his Vintager apparel and Jim in a shooting vest and baseball cap.

They looked up at me - more startled than menacing. Both sported long, thick cigars, and I remembered what Freud once said.

Taking in the scene I thought "these men are my kind of men." So I decided to hold it in and rather than hit the john, and asked, "Can you buy you gents a beer for the inconvenience?"

Bugsy broke out laughing and turned to Jim: "Can you believe this guy?"

Jim simply nodded, world weary and wise.

"Of course you can buy us a beer," Bugsy shouted.

"Hefeweizen with a wedge of lemon?"

"Sure, why the hell not?" Bugsy shouted.

Jim simply waved his hand, as though to say, que sera, sera.

"Miss, oh, miss," I called to the barmaid. "Three Hefeweizen with a wedge of fresh lemon, if you please."

She was young and lithe with a tank tap and no bra and she leaned over into the ice box, drawing the attention of the great rough slab of tramp-steamer maleness, each of them shanghaied to this forsaken place, here on the river, and she put three long-necked Snake Venom Ales on the bar in front of me.

"We're outta lemon wedges, handsome" she said. "Start a tab for you and your pals?"

"That would be excellent," I said. "By the way, do you have any coasters?"

She turned away, and resumed her conversation with the burly men at the end of the bar.

"Hey, you gonna eyeball those beers all night or bring 'em over here?" Bugsy said.

"Sorry about the coasters," I said sitting down. "Fielding-Clapp, Cletus."

"Bugsy."

"Jim."

Bugsy had a mischievous glint in his eyes, his face part pugilist, part English professor. Jim wore a scruffy beard, his dark penetrating orbs awash in a secret sea of resignation whose powerful tides shifted with the whims of Lady Luck. I couldn't help but notice he wore an orthopedic shoe with a platform sole; one leg was longer than the other.

Their cigar smoke enshrouded us in a place within a place, here on the lazy river. The bar opened directly on to the water, giving the impression that we were on a slow boat to the end of the world.

"Shrimp?" Bugsy asked, pushing the plastic basket toward me.

"That's extremely generous," I said, "but I have a shellfish allergy."

"No worries," Jim said. "I always carry antihistamines."

I put forth a polite smile. "So I see you chaps are into shotguns."

Bugsy broke out laughing. "Hey, this guy's a regular Sherlock Holmes," he said to Jim."

"Don't start," Jim said.

"Actually, I write for Shotgun Life."

"I love it," Bugsy shouted. "Man, we've got something for you to write about."

"Well, fire away."

"That's a challenge we'll gladly accept," Bugsy said. "Go ahead, Jim-bo, you go first."

"I think I will."

It turned out, that Jim was a dentist, originally from Long Island. He ended up down South to attend dental school in Charleston, South Carolina. And that's when he started getting into shooting -- at the end of dental school and his first residency.

He got invited on his first dove shoot, borrowing a neighbors bolt-action 16 gauge. It was old and weird. "I was hooked. I had a knack for it, and killed my limit rather quickly," Jim recalled.

Well, by now Jim is married with three children and a successful dental practice.

Jim had also turned into a dove-hunting addict; and after doves he got hooked on quail. When he couldn't hunt birds, he started to shoot skeet. If it flied, it died, whether it sported feathers or fluorescent orange, it was going down. And as he got deeper and deeper into the shotgun sports, he joined a shooting club in Charleston, which was where he met Bugsy.

After skeet, Jim and Bugsy discovered sporting clays. They started to shoot competitively. Every weekend, Jim was out shooting - and it didn't matter what the heck it was...doves, quail, skeet, sporting clays...

Jim was telling all of this to me, until he paused for a moment of deep reflection., where he gazed into his fate like a warrior about to face the battle of his life... "Then I got bit by the tick," he said.

Bugsy nodded to me, puffing on his cigar.

"It's back in '94," Jim said. "I was on a dove hunt in Somerville, South Carolina. I got a tick bite without even noticing it - until the rash. Things started falling apart...neurological problems...my balance gave way and I started having pains and troubles with my legs.

"For almost two years, no one could diagnose it as Lyme's disease. I went to urologists, neurologists and internists. People weren't aware of Lyme's disease at this point -- and they never tested him for it. Mostly I was tested for MS, and it always came back negative.

"You see, Cletus, the doctors didn't really believe that Lyme's disease made its way all the way down south. You know, it was first detected in Lyme Connecticut.

"In the meantime my situation is deteriorating. Well, I finally got lucky. My sister and brother-in-law are physicians, and when they finally identified the problem, they put me on antibiotics immediately. And they also hooked me up with the head of infectious disease in Columbia, in South Carolina. My sister pulled strings."

Jim pushed out his chair. He showed me his orthopedic shoe. "That's what Lyme's Disease will do to you. You tell your readers, first to spray before they go out to hunt, and if they're bitten, they should run, not walk, to get treated."

"Jim, you gotta face it, you've always been jinxed," Bugsy said. "Falling on those fire ants...that woman who got sick on the plane next to you when we flew to Argentina..."

"Well, I do live under a cloud," Jim told me. "But I've never been..." He gave Bugsy a meaningful glance that only men who've seen it can know how meaningful it really is.

Bugsy nodded. He took a long, enjoyable puff on his cigar. "Heck, Cletus, what I've been through, that's just one more good story to tell."

And he proceeded to tell it with a flourish...

His introduction to the shotgun sports was more sordid than Jim's. At about 14, his parents introduced him to shooting in Savannah at the Forest City Gun Club in Savannah. They took him there because it was a private club and they could drink on Sundays.

As the years passed, he never lost of his love of shooting. He started a home-building company in Columbia, South Carolina called Colony Builders.

"That was 25 years ago when I started at Colony," he said wistfully, puffing on his cigar.

Well, in the great tradition of the South, Bugsy introduced his son, Bugsy II, to hunting. In 1998, the father took his son for his first shooting trip outside of the U.S., to Mexico, in John Wayne territory: Rio Bravo.

To minimize any dangers, Bugsy decided to stay in Texas. From their base in McAllen, Bugsy and Bugsy II would cross the Pharr Bridge and make day hunts South of the Border. Bugsy knew his outfitter well and they always adhered to the same routine. Pick-up at around noon, shoot until 6:00 or 7:00 on the preserve, and then to the world-famous La Cucaracha in Reynosa for dinner.

It was the kind of routine that men followed through the ages - for time immemorial -until such said day, when out of the blue, it happened...

"The horror," he said, gazing into the darkness, beyond the slow river.

"Well...," Jim said.

Bugsy, never one to lose his composure while telling a good story, sucked it up and resumed his compelling narrative.

"We were hunting some five miles from Rio Bravo when a storm came up," he recalled. "There had been a misty rain, the kind of rain that chills men to the bones and makes you want to brew up a strong cup of Earl Grey tea.

"So we get there, three vehicles full of hunters. It clears up and the rain quits. The day before it was all dry so you could drive to the spot but now it was all gumbo and you had to walk. We walk into the field - my son and myself and the two bird boys, and we're out in the field, it begins to rain again. I don't mind the rain but I don't like the lightning. You know what I mean, Cletus?"

I nodded, a somber nod, reserved for men of few words, like Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

But off in the distance, lightning had hit an electrical transformer - causing a loud explosion. "By my count, 1, 2, 3, I figured it was about 10 miles away," Bugsy said.

Bugsy and Bugsy II decided to take shelter under a nearby mesquite tree. What they didn't know, unfortunately, was that it was the devil mesquite tree.

Yes, of all the mesquite trees in all of Mexico, they unbeknownst to them stood under the mesquite tree that went by the name of El Diablo. But before any of the outfitters could warn the two men, Bugsy II had asked his father "What are the chances of getting hit by lightning here?"

Suddenly, it came up out of the ground and hit Bugsy, lifted him off the ground like El Diablo itself, and threw him down with a body slam that would've made Hulk Hogan proud. A fireball ran down the outside of the gun and there was a huge explosion.

"I'm going to tell you something, Cletus, that was my moment of truth. Because if that bolt of lighting had gone inside the gun, well, just let me say that I had three shells in that guy and it sure as hell would've gone off and killed both me and my son," Bugsy said. "Yes, it would've...got us both."

There was a silent aftermath, the kind of long silence that makes men wonder, in the solitude of the vast nothingness where men have dwelled among other men in a silence of their own, wonder to themselves as they barely move their lips "It sure is mighty quiet - too quiet."

At first, Bugsy II thought his father had fired the gun.

Bugsy remembered what followed as clear as if he were laying in that field now.

"In my calmest voice, I said 'I've been hit by lighting, I'm hurt and you need to go get help.'"

You can imagine the fortitude of this man amongst men.

From the waist down he could feel nothing whatsoever. There was a tremendous pain in his left arm, so that he actually thought it had been knocked off and sent flying clear across the field.

There was blood, plenty of it coming from somewhere and he truly believed that his arm had been knocked off and sent flying across the field, where now the vultures had gathered. And they weren't ordinary vultures. They were the vultures known as El Diablo.

"I pulled on my arm to see if it was attached -- so I realized I didn't need a tourniquet. There was no wound either," he described with the most masculine fortitude I'd ever heard.

As fate would have it, the wound was on his hand and it came from falling on broken glass - also known as the tears of El Diablo.

"My son runs off, through the gumbo, to get some help, and I'm on the ground, can move a thing from the waist down, and there are the bird boys, speaking Spanish to me," Bugsy recalled. "Speaking Spanish."

"Yes, Spanish is a very manly language," I said.

Bugsy and Jim gave me a solemn nod.

"It took them about 40 minutes to get back though the gumbo, to find the guide on the other side of the field, and explain what happened and get them back to me," Bugsy said. "I'd been hunting with him for about eight years and when he saw me laying there and he said, 'Bugsy what have you done now?'"

Bugsy insisted they take him to the hospital on the other side of the border. It was the hospital known among the muscular men in this part of the world for its cherry Jell-O with fruit cocktail in it.

They got Bugsy to his feet - a brotherhood of hunters that has rung true and square through the millennium, and got him into Rio Bravo where they got a cab back to Texas. It was now about 7:00 PM, on a Saturday night, in the emergency room of a border-town hospital.

And he waited.

"By 10:00, they were bringing in the fighting victims, the knife fights, the fights of honor fought by men against men in parking lots with no name," Bugsy said.

By time the doctors got around to Bugsy, his blood pressure was 200 over 150 (normal is about 110 over 70). The doctors gave him several doses of medicine to lower his blood pressure, sewed up his hand and kept him on a heart monitor over night.

The next morning, the doctor comes in and says to me "You were really lucky."

"Let's see if I understand, doc. I'm in a field with 15 guys, I get hit by lightning, and you call that lucky. I think I'd like a second opinion. The doctor said 'that's not what I meant' and I said I know what you meant."

"Yes, now I know what you mean," I said. "Yes, yes, yes."

Jim was puffing on his cigar through Bugsy's tale of his travails. "Hey, Cletus, let me ask you something."

"Sure, Jim."

"Want to go shooting with Bugsy and me tomorrow?"

Cletus Fielding Clapp is an official correspondent for Shotgun Life. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Shotgun Life Newsletters

Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letters are for you.

Shooting Tips, Gear & Shotguns



quigley-01

My Afternoon With Olympian George Quigley

Written by Rick Robinson

Author, part-time fisherman and lousy shot

The picture which the folks at Shotgun Life have used to introduce me to you ought to tell you something.  All the people profiled in this fine publication are pictured holding their favorite shotguns.  My profile picture has me holding up a beautiful lake trout which I caught on the Niagara River cutting the border between New York and Canada.

What that has to do with clay shooting is what my story is all about.

Fishing (or at the least brackish lake water associated with it) is in my family's blood.  My dad had hunted when he was a young man, but by the time I was born he was afflicted with horrible arthritis.  So, instead of hunting, he taught me how to shore fish at a young age.  On my mom's side, I had an uncle for which fishing was his life.  Just to be able to fish on a daily basis, he spent his twilight living with a Seminole Indian tribe in the Everglades.

So, fishing is one of my sports of preference.  Although, the way I fish, calling it a sport is an insult to sportsmen everywhere.  I spend more time choosing my cigar for the day than I do choosing my lures.  Quite honestly, it's the quiet and solitude which I enjoy about fishing. Catching a fish is a side benefit.

One of my regular fishing companions, Lytle Thomas, mistook my love of fishing for being an all inclusive outdoor sportsman.  Lytle spends his weekends hunting things with and without a pulse.

"I'm running a charity sporting clays shoot next week at Elk Creek," Lytle said excitedly to me one day.  "I signed you up to shoot in my fivesome."

"I haven't shot since elementary school," I replied, hoping that would end the conversation.

"Yeah, I know," he persisted.  "You told me about it.  Remember?  You won a shotgun for breaking clay pigeons.  It's like riding a bike.  You'll be fine."

Lytle was only half right.  My bragging was catching up with me.  My dad had taken me to a youth shooter's safety clinic when I was a kid.  After a lecture from a local 4-H volunteer on safety (don't ever point a gun at anyone except your calculus teacher), everyone got a turn at the range.  Clays were going to be thrown out for us to shoot.  The prize for the most clays hit, winner take all, was the shotgun we were using.  I missed the first one and then hit all that were served up.  My dad was proud (although I do remember overhearing him explain to my mom that I had my eyes closed on each shot).

Dad had visions of some kid in my class with buckshot marks on his face from me trying to shoot rats along the river banks and convinced me to trade the shot gun to a neighbor for a baseball bat and glove or something.  Dad was a smart man.

"Anyway, it's a celebrity shoot," Lytle snapped me back to reality. "Our celebrity is George Quigley."

I gulped.  I knew just enough about clays to understand that George Quigley was an Olympic shooter.  But the thought of spending an afternoon with any athlete who is the best in his sport intrigued me.  I accepted the invitation.

"Great," Lytle exclaimed and told me the real reason for the invite.  "My boss is also in our group and he sucks.  I put you on my team so that he'll have someone to beat."

George Quigley is a legend around my community.  He is one of the best known ambassadors of shooting in the world.  He and his dad are both nationally ranked.  George, Jr. was on the United States Olympic Skeet team which finished 6th in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.  He won a gold medal at the 1994 World championships in Cairo.

On the day of the celebrity sporting clays event, I showed up at Elk Creek Hunt Club in Owen County, Kentucky - the home of this year's US Open.  Lytle had loaned me a 12 gauge Beretta 682 Gold E to use for the day.  In the parking lot he told me that it was bored and ported to reduce recoil and declared that I was going to use 1 ounce loads of number 8 shot rather than the standard 1 and 1/8th ounce loads.

I pursed my lips and nodded a knowledgeable nod.  I had no earthly idea what he was talking about. I took the gun anyway.

After a quick refresher on gun safety in the pro shop where we watched a Dick Cheney speech, I headed to the course.

I looked for Quigley, but didn't have to really search the crowd.  At 6'5" and around 250 lbs. he stood out.  And, he was the only guy at the practice range who was actually shooting.  Everyone else was just standing around watching him.  "Pull," he'd shout and two clays would fly out.  He'd shoot twice and both clays would explode.  "Dead Pair," he'd say as the crowd applauded.

I decided to wait to introduce myself.

I showed up at our first station. All the men in my group (including Lytle's boss) were dressed in gear appropriate for a shooting event - ammo vest, shirts with padded shoulders, and orange hats.  Suddenly my ensemble of a Bass Pro Shop baseball cap and "Fishermen do it With a Lure" tee-shirt didn't seem like such a good choice.  These guys were serious.

I retreated to what I normally do when I'm intimidated - I became a smartass.

"This clay pigeon thing sounds like fun," I said approaching the Olympian Quigley with my hand extended.  "I hear they are good eatin' when grilled."

Lytle shot me a WTF look.

Quigley just stared at me.  "Oh God, he's pissed," I though to myself.  "I've just insulted the king and his own sport.  This is not a good start to the day."

Then, Quigley smiled a rather sly grin.  "They're a lot more tender if you boil them first."

He was as nice of a guy as everyone had said.

I stepped onto the shooting platform, took my first two shots and missed both targets.

Quigley stood behind me shaking his head.  He gave a quick beginners lesson on how to balance my feet and gave me a better way to position my shotgun on my shoulder.

"And your eyes," he said.

"Yeah?" I responded.

"Try opening them."

What the hell?  It had worked the last time.

As I proceeded to each successive station, my shots inched closer and closer to a target.  Although I have to admit, I didn't particularly care if I ever hit a clay.   Learning to shoot was one thing.  Learning to shoot under the tutelage of George Quigley was quite another.  I was watching one of the best and from a very close range.

What was remarkable about George Quigley was the zen-like manner in which he zeroed in on his intended targets.  I make jokes about me shooting with my eyes closed, but George's approach to shooting was just that.  He didn't shoot with his eyes.  He shot with feeling.  He and the gun were one unit.  He didn't need his eyes.  He shot by pure instinct.

George Quigley hit 99 clays out of 100 on that hot summer day.  His only miss was a clay that was thrown from behind him.  I swear that the shot went past my head as a warning that I better start trying harder.  George said it didn't come anywhere near me.  Just to make sure, I started paying closer attention (and standing closer to Lytle).

I feared that George had visions that the president of the National Sporting Clays Association was waiting for him in the pro shop.  Being an ambassador of the sport is one thing.  But encouraging someone like me to enter the sport was enough for the Association to ban him from competition.

Whether a result of George's stellar lessons or pure dumb luck, with a few stations left, I suddenly got the hang of it.   He was right; you don't shoot with your eyes.  It's all feel.  Each time I hit a clay, Quigley would boldly declare "Dead Pair."

Suddenly with one station left, I found myself tied with Lytle's boss.  I had the distinct possibility of not being the worst shooter in the match.  Lytle glared at me.  His whole point of inviting me was to lose to his boss.   Quigley, knowing why I had been invited, winked at me.  I went 5 for 5.

Dead Pair!

Rick Robinson is an attorney with the law firm of Graydon Head & Ritchey, LLP in Northern Kentucky and the author of political thrillers.  His debut title, The Maximum Contribution, was named a Finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book of the Year for political fiction and earned an Honorable Mention at the Hollywood Book Festival.  The sequel, Sniper Bid, was released on Election Day and opened on Amazon's top seller list of political thrillers at #46.  He is published by Publisher Page, an imprint of Headline Books.  He can be reached via e-mail at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



quigley-02

Visit Amazon.com for Rick's novel, The Maximum Contribution.


quigley-03

Visit Amazon.com for Rick's novel, Sniper Bid.

Shotgun Life Newsletters

Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letters are for you.

Shooting Tips, Gear & Shotguns



Page 2 of 2