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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rare Bird

A housewife from Montana gave the sport of shooting clay pigeons the name "skeet" in 1926. Her name was Gertrude and "skeet" is Scandinavian for shoot. Which means Swedish basketball teams skeet baskets. This is one of many things I never knew about trap and skeet.

I learned several things from senior Erica Post recently, who was decked out in her shooting duds for the ACUI tournament held in San Antonio last week. Erica explained to me the difference between trap and skeet, which surprisingly I never thought about. Trap shooting is when clay pigeons are hurled in uni-directional arcs whereas skeet shooting involves two clay pigeons crossing paths. The sport originated when men in Massachusetts wanted to practice shooting in the 1920's, and voila, a sport was born. Erica has only once hit two crossing clay pigeons with one shot. This is the equivalent of a full-court shot in basketball or an inside the park home run in baseball.

It was all improbable for Erica, who as a sophomore, needed to take a one-hour PE credit, and signed up for this new experience. She had never ever shot a gun and was terrified when she went to her first class at the local shooting range. Think how her classmates must have felt. But she shot, and liked it. And she was good at it. If ever there were an argument for the liberal arts, this is one. A class that was taken to check off the list turned into a passion.

For Erica, that passion has raised her profile in her family. Her dad, a military veteran, now has the the son (sort of) that he always wanted. He and Erica can shoot, clean out their weapons, shop for ammo, watch Louis C.K. videos, and spit out sunflower seeds together.

As an avid non-gun shooter and non-hunting/fishing vegetarian, I cannot relate to much of this. But the idea of shooting little break-able Frisbees does hold some appeal. I mean, I spent half my life sliding little folded triangular sheets of paper across classroom desks, so I guess I have a low bar. But trap and skeet at Trinity, under the guidance of Van Boerner, is a serious business. I wouldn't mess around with a skeet instructor, let alone one whose name seems like something out of a 007 movie. The name Van Boerner is actually Scandinavian for "I will shoot anything that moves."

So here is a shoot-out shout-out to the coach and his team. They go up against the likes of Yale, UT, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Florida, and even power-house Martin Methodist. While playing host to last week's tournament Erica noted that among her favorites are the polite boys from West Point. Of course they are Erica. And here is a shout-out to you, for taking a shot, and making the most of your PE credit. It appears to have been a direct hit.

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