National Left-Handers Day & Trap Shooting: Horse Tales Pt. 3

Annie Oakley pointing a handgun in the air

One of the many activities at Tumbling River Ranch was trap shooting–they taught you what you needed to know and were all about safety. Prior to this, I hadn’t been shooting. I never really held a gun–not even my brother’s old BB gun. 🤔


The shooting range was down the road from the cabins, but it was a quick 5 minute drive. As we were loading into the van, a couple of the guests were talking about eye dominance. We were a mix of people who had handled firearms and those who were total newbies. Their conversation was interesting and I hadn’t thought much about it before. Oddly enough, that conversation was a laid a kind of groundwork for my shooting experience.

I couldn’t hit a dang thing. I’m predominantly right-handed, although I do some things with my left. There was a series of adjustments which changed the range of my shooting. I’m talking six inch difference in my case (boy, I really wanted to say something crass there 😮).

What do I mean? Well, I held the rifle in my right hand and closed my left eye. The instructor said I missed the target by about six inches.

Instructor: leave both eyes open.

Me: Okay…I felt a little off and everything was moving around. Yup. Missed that one, too.

Instructor: shoot with your left hand and eye.

Me: What?! Noooo.

Okay. I switched it up and hit it multiple times in a row. Dead on.

Why do I bring this up? Glad you asked. There are a few reasons.

First, it’s national left-handers day–found that out by total accident, hence the post to celebrate and make connections. Being more left-handed than I realize is connected to my long ol’ story. Second, shooting was part of my mental list of “things I’d really like to try.” Shooting at objects, not living things. Plus, I wanted to do something different. I’ve always been curious about skeet shooting and I didn’t really know the difference between that and trap shooting. Short answer: direction and angle of the clay pigeons (correct me if I’m wrong). If someone would like to post a longer answer in the comments, that would be great! Third, my alter-ego comes into play–someone called me Annie Oakley after our first round of shooting 😂. I can’t tell you how much that made my day. Because that moniker has connections with my last job.

A few years ago, I created an alter-ego (Norma) as a joke–I really like to poke fun at myself, if you haven’t already realized. A friend told me that I was the most paranoid person she knew. ParaNorman was an animated movie that was out around that time, so I took her “paranoid” and mixed it with the feminine version of “Norman” and came up with ParaNorma, Norma for short. I realize the base words (paranormal/paranoid) are different, but I was being cheeky. When my paranoia or worry was high my coworkers used to joke and ask if they were talking to Ami or Norma. One coworker used to ask just because.

Later, we began to joke about my alter-egos based on “moods” or what was going on. One “persona” was Annie Oakley because I always wore tall boots, primarily with long skirts and a denim jacket. One day I wore a skirt with a shorter flouncy hem (don’t go crazy–all of them were “long” 🙄) and cowboy boots–kind of Annie Oakley-ish. I have a vast collection of boots–I love them. Remember my newsletter about the boots driving around with UPS? 🤨 Mind you, summers get up in the triple digits here, so that persona was a fav of a couple of my colleagues because I was always over-dressed with my ass-kicking boots. There’s also a boot and butt-kicking story as well as some sharp-shooting language coupled with it. I’ll just leave you with that.

Finally, years prior to that, I worked with a couple of self-absorbed women who couldn’t bother to learn my name. They kept calling me “Annie.” Ugh. Or Ann. 😶 I can’t remember how long that went on–I’m thinking about a month. I stopped hearing it or maybe I was too busy being snide, internally of course. Point being? Annie Oakley is a moniker I’m fond of, and it’s a layered and textured kind of fondness.

Trap shooting was available to the adults twice–I went both times. No surprise there. A sweet couple (Claire and Bob) were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this month!!! They had another couple and their daughter (Liz) and her family along to celebrate. I really enjoyed this family. They were fun and sweet and funny. Claire is a hoot. She’s the one who kept calling me Annie Oakley. Her southern accent added flavor to the nickname. She created all sorts of “jobs” for me as a “sharpshooter” (remember, I failed epically the first couple of go arounds and then nailed it). One job had me “on guard” for the property and another as a greeter at Walmart. I had to ask about that one because I caught the tailend of being a Walmart greeter and all I could think of was “we don’t have Walmart greeters like that in Arizona.”

I missed the mark on that one.😬

We each took a turn with discs flying in one direction. Next go around, some another direction. When we got to point where they were throwing pigeons going in different directions, I shot four in a row. Won’t lie–it felt good. I could hear Claire’s low, raspy southern twang saying something to Chief, followed by Chief saying, “I don’t want to make her angry.”

Apparently, one of the things she said was “tell the burglars to wait until your wife gets her gun.” There was also a warning for Chief to not upset me–although he can’t remember what he said in response.

Remember, I’m trying to shoot and they’re having a loud running commentary behind me. At least I didn’t do the rookie thing and turn around with the gun pointed at all of them. Joking aside, I took this very seriously. What I didn’t take seriously was my ability to hit a target dead on. I didn’t think I’d hit anything and I proved myself correct until I switched my hold from right to left.

Every morning after the first shooting trip Claire teased me. 😂🤠

The second trip didn’t start off as well as the first, but ended well. I enjoyed myself all the same. Maybe it was beginners luck, maybe not. It’s the switching to something initially awkward (my left hand) that came to feel “natural” that’s interesting. I let go of “should”–how do I know how it “should” feel? Let it be and just see. There’s also an element of the power of naming. Chief Sitting Bull was so impressed with Annie Oakley that he called her Watanya Cicilla, the Lakota name for Little Sure Shot. It’s quite the honor to receive a “name,” bringing you into another culture–language is powerful like that. There’s something so intertwined with your native tongue and your very essence. Even if you speak the same language, there’s also something powerful with nicknames.

As I mentioned in the newsletter, I postponed posting this because of the release of The Reluctant Bandit. I didn’t want to put up a bunch of posts all at once. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a tremendous amount of stuff posted on Instagram about Left-handers day. I will say that over the years I noticed that I do use my hands equally with some things and my left primarily with others, despite being right-handed. Claire mentioned that I may have been left-handed and was forced to switch as a kid. I have a coloring crayon memory of being told to switch, but other than that I can’t remember. I do remember my dad telling a story of being forced to switch. That was back in the days of getting rapped with a ruler as correction. No thank you.

So for the record, I really enjoyed shooting at the clay pigeons and would do it again in a heart beat. If we were invaded and I had to defend myself and others, then yes, I suppose I better do what I can. With that said, I don’t want to shoot any living creature so I won’t be taking Claire’s imaginary jobs 😳, but thanks for joking with me Claire. I enjoy a good ribbing, especially since I know you don’t mean it. 🤠

Give me a shoutout! 🤠

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