Unceremoniously finishing my practice birds, 5 more shooters, then the real shoot would start. Getting to watch some very good shooting, I picked up some useful pointers. Don’t be glued to the middle of the shooting area. Change your position once the colombaire says “Listo” and he can’t change his. Your initial aim point is the center of the middle rope. Block out the colombaire’s movements and just watch the bird. Keep both eyes open and concentrate on the pigeon. And a truism of all wing shooting, swing through your shot, don’t stop your swing until the bird is hit and always be ready for a second shot!
My turn came up as the lady in front of me finished with the lead having knocked down 7 out of 10 birds thrown. Being nervous, I took a half breath, walked to my position and looked the colombaire in the eye. His lips moved, but with ear protectors on and being hard of hearing from too much shooting without them, I heard nothing. I told him to speak louder and he smiled and said “Listo.” “Pull,” I answered and the bird sailed over the rope and dove to the ground and Pow, Pow, I missed both shots!
After the miss my nerves were gone and I hit 8 straight birds including a long, long shot of over 75 yards with the bird falling just inside of the flags. Concentrating completely, being deaf and having ear protectors on I could only hear the “Listoes”. But Brad told me later that I really had all of the other shooters attention. “Who is that guy with the wide shoulders?” “ I have never seen him shoot before.” “That old guy can really shoot!” “What a long shot!” The crowd murmured.
On my last bird, 9 of 10 should win the shoot for sure, the colombaire stood right in front of me, smiled and said, “Listo”, I moved 2 side shuffles to my left, clearing him, he took 2 spins forward as if to release the bird like a discuss, then of all things, released it behind his back. The bird was flying between the colombaire and me, and I’m completely faked out, in the wrong position to shoot a hard right bird and Pow, Pow, 2 feeble misses. The colombaire then did something I had not seen him do with the other shooters, he came toward me, held out his hand, and smiled saying, “Good Shooting.” Everyone was patting me on the back, shaking my hand and congratulating me, but I was worried that one of the last 5 shooters would tie or beat me.
The last 4 shooters had sixes and sevens and, as in all good stories, the last shooter a young man probably in his mid twenties, and sporting an old, beat up, 12 gauge, pump, tied me. He missed his first bird, then shot seven in a row, missed number 9 and hit an easy straight away for 8. We tied and to determine the winner, a shoot off was needed.
Having come to the shoot to support Brad, I found myself in a shoot off for the championship. This wasn’t planned, but I would definitely do my best. The colombaire was primed to make both of us work hard for the victory. While he paced around in the throwing area, he was getting the bird ready, pulling tail feathers out and swinging it around,. We both missed the first 2 birds, our colombaire stepping up the level of his throws. Shooting first, I nailed a low bird right past the rope and my opponent hit a high, climber. I got a discuss type, behind the back bird to my right and dusted it on the first shot, but hit it square on the second and my opponent hits on his second shot also.
Still tied, I moved to the shooters position, and the colombaire was smiling and pulling tail feathers out. I’ve seen everything he has I thought, so he spun and released the bird with his right hand, a hard left one and I hadn’t seen that! Pow, Pow, I missed. My opponent won the shoot with an easy climber. My young opponent was the best shooter that day. Second place still paid handsomely, but I donated my winnings to Jubalee Junction!
However, second guessing, I think that if I had hit the hard left bird, our colombaire would have pulled one of his tricks on my opponent. Who knows?