The Ringer

My last trap shoot was in 1975, at the Moccasin Bend Trap Club, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we decided to make a family weekend out of it. The family piled into our camper and we took the leisurely two hour, drive from Sandy Springs, Georgia to Chattanooga and checked into the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, a real neat hotel converted from a bunch of old sleeper cars, complete with a dining car. The kids still talk about it.

We visited “See Ruby Falls”, as advertised on barn tops along the freeway and I hated the elevator ride down to the falls; the Incline Railway, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Chickamauga, the site of the largest battle fought in the western theatre during our Civil War.

Sunday morning found us on the way to the gun club and I was going to surprise the “good ‘ole boys” in Tennessee. Being a real “hot” shooter out west, but not known east of the Mississippi, I “bought” myself in the Calcutta for the minimum amount, a whopping $3.00.

The featured event was the handicap shoot and I was placed with the long yardage shooters. As is said in trap shooting circles, “I was smokin’ ‘em.” Walking to the last station and leading the shoot with only two misses out of ninety-five clay birds, the thought of my potential winnings, Over $1,000.00 flashed through my mind. Quickly pushing the errant thought out, my concentration returned. And I barked, “Pull!”

The clay pigeon wobbled out of the trap machine, an easy, hard right bird, that I swung on, led and pulled the trigger; no bam, no ignition of the shell, nothing but a fluttering clay bird floating to the ground. The puller/ scorekeeper called out “lost bird” with me just looking funny at my trusty trap model shotgun.

A quick inspection told me that the trigger mechanism had failed. I had five minutes to fix the trigger, or get another gun, otherwise I would be disqualified and my only option was to get my ex-wife’s automatic, with a shortened stock.

Missing three out of the last five clays and finishing second, which paid $200.00, plus another $150.00 from the Calcutta, I thought, so much for a big “hit”! At least we paid for our weekend!

After this shoot, with my day job requiring so much of my time, and my kids being active in sports, at a very young age I retired myself from competitive shooting. As I have mentioned before, “Sometimes a good day job can really interfere with your avocation.”