Jim Witt

September 2, 2014

First experience with shotgun was a blast

Helping raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters was the real aim.

As a golfer, I’ve played in many charity tournaments with “shotgun starts,” where teams of golfers all tee off simultaneously on different holes.

This was the first charity event where I literally had a shotgun in my hand when the fundraiser began.

There were plenty of golf carts, but it wasn’t a golf tournament. It was the 22nd annual Fort Worth clay shoot, benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, at the Alpine Shooting Range in Kennedale.

Even though I had never held a shotgun before, I was one of about 200 shooters and a few dozen kids ready to fill the air with pellets in support of a good cause.

I was there at the invitation of Bruce Moon, a local attorney I know from the Fort Worth Club. I play racquetball every Monday with Bruce, and often I overhear him and Ken McAllister, another attorney, discussing their love of all things guns, from loading their own ammo to going bear hunting.

After I wrote a column months ago about my first experience shooting a pistol, Bruce invited me to try my hand at shotguns during the clay shoot, where he and Ken both volunteer to help kids experience the outdoors and learn about guns in a safe environment.

And the faces of the kids really lit up when they hit that first target — almost as much as mine!

Shooters rotate between multiple stations, with two mechanical launchers at each station that toss clay targets in the air, one at a time or in pairs. Pairs are harder, because they go up simultaneously and force you to locate and break each target twice as fast.

When you’re holding a pump-action shotgun and have to slide the action before attempting the second shot, it adds a whole new level of difficulty.

Because we were beginners, the kids and I mostly shot singles, although I did try shooting pairs, too. In real competition, you shoot pairs.

Bruce and Ken each ran a station and gave instruction, but I got mine from Jackie Dalton, who is a state champion shooter and finished ninth in the nation last year in subgauge competition.

He had me hitting targets almost instantly. I was better at the “birds” either coming at me or going away; not so good when they were flying left to right or vice versa.

When you’re dove or duck hunting, apparently you don’t get to request that they fly in any certain pattern, so I’m not sure my beginner’s luck would translate into the field.

I hit about half of the 40 or so targets I faced, and it was pretty cool. Certainly something I would do again if I get the chance, and I could tell all the kids felt the same way.

And despite losing a major sponsor this year, Lone Star — which is the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in the world and represents 106 counties — still raised $50,000 after expenses.

You don’t have to like guns to help out Big Brothers Big Sisters. They have fundraising events all year, from golf tournaments to bowling to dancing the night away or sampling the best gourmet food the area has to offer. Go to www.bbbstx.org to see a complete list of events they sponsor.

They need mentors, too. Last year 9,472 kids were mentored, and since I was what they call a “Big” back in the early ’90s, I know firsthand how rewarding an experience being a mentor to a “Little” can be.

As Bruce said at the end of the shoot, being involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters changed his life.

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