Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Ready, Aim, Fore!

forays into golf, trap shooting push writer’s boundaries

Luc Anthony

U.S. CPB / Public Domain
U.S. CPB / Public Domain

There are certain activities in life that we would just as soon never do. Some are required – taking out the garbage, doing paperwork – and some are optional, but lead to frustration or indifference or distaste; being optional, we can avoid them. However, opening up your mind and broadening your horizon can be more fulfilling than you might imagine, and doing something different can bring a certain joie de vivre. Ultimately, this all relates to a mindset of “Why not?” So, on consecutive June Thursdays this year, I golfed and shot trap.

Golf and trap shooting have a notable similarity: focus. Many external factors can alter your concentration, but being “in the moment” really helps.

Unlike most forms of athletics, golf is a sport I could almost play. I grew up a block-and-a-half south of the old Lowes Creek (now Pine Meadow) Golf Course, so it was easy for my dad and I to walk there. I almost went out for golf at Memorial High School (until realizing I was not remotely prepared), and took golf as one of my two required college phy ed courses. My dual issues were: not doing well at hitting the ball (whiffing, topping, shanking, and endless putting), and having a short attention span with an easily attainable impatience. In 2000 at Hickory Hills, after another day of screwing up fundamental shots, I stopped playing. Why golf again? I prefer to enjoy life.

Time and maturity ease the wounds, and by the 2010s, I thought that perhaps I should give a round another round. I surprised myself last August hitting some tee shots at a United Cerebral Palsy event, so on a nice recent vacation day, I looked at my wife and suggested we go golfing. My 18-year dormancy was at an end.

Being the descendant of my “home” course, Pine Meadow was the natural destination; it’s also good for novices like me. Thankfully, the bit of technique I picked up in that college golf class stuck with me, and a decent number of drives took nice airborne arcs or at least bounced a good distance down the fairway. I was constantly over par, but usually by only one to three strokes.

Then, it happened: a topping here (trying to hit the ball hard but barely making contact so it only bounces several feet), a whiff there; I could feel the frustration building. By the end of the nine holes, I was trending worse, my strokes increasing; this was why I hated the sport. My wife suggested I do another round. Good call: The second time through was marginally better, and it featured my first-ever birdie (one shot under par for a hole). Maybe some good ol’ experience and that elusive patience were all I needed.

Experience was something I thoroughly lacked one week later, at a charity trap shoot for the Aging & Disability Resource Center. My radio station was putting together a team, and, incredibly, I signed-on – despite never having shot a gun in my life. If you know me, you might never have expected I would get some ammo and start shooting anything, yet there I was at the Rod & Gun Club, holding a Remington shotgun, ready to take down some clay pigeons.

When doing something like, say, firing a weapon for the first time, some personal guidance is a necessity, and the folks helping me and my team were wonderful instructors. Push the stock of the gun into your shoulder, stay upright, lean forward, watch the bead, time the shot – all helping to hone the process. After my first few attempts, I pulled the trigger and saw the orange disc change trajectory – I hit my target. Whoa. By the time I was done, this gun rookie hit seven of 25 discs – not exactly a marksman, but perhaps better than one would expect from a guy who had never fire anything besides water and a couple of paintballs during his first 40 years.

Golf and trap shooting have a notable similarity: focus. Many external factors can alter your concentration, but being “in the moment” – as we are often told to do to optimize life in general – really helps you to perform in these sorts of activities where the assumption is that you would struggle. We won’t be Tiger Woods – well, that’s probably a good thing – but we can find small amounts of excellence where we never thought it was possible. Take a shot.

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.