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Archive for February, 2011

When I moved to Switzerland, I decided to jump into things and experience local customs and foods without reservation or judgement.

I celebrated bringing the cows down from the high pastures in the autumn. I roamed the streets of Basel when all hell broke loose for Fasnacht. I rode my bicycle everywhere. We put burning candles on our Christmas Tree. I sunk my teeth in the mouthwatering McFondue burger – a local treat. When the World Cup was being played in South Africa, we joined the raucous celebrations in the middle of Europe. I swam in the Rhine River.

When I told my European friends and co-workers that I was going to move to California, I asked them for a list of “classically” American experiences that they think I should try out. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Monster Trucks
  • Nascar Racing
  • Hamburgers the size of my head
  • NFL “football”
  • MLB
  • Shooting guns

Obviously, there is much more to the American experience than this limited and fairly crude list, but it was an entertaining place to start.

…and now I can knock the last item off of the list.

Over Christmas supper with some new friends, I found out that most of them had guns, and that sport shooting with shotguns is quite a popular activity. I almost burst out laughing – sort of like when I met Swiss who would gush about cheese fondue. For real?

Last week I got an invitation to join a few guys for some skeet shooting at an outdoor sporting club south of San Jose, so I jumped at the opportunity. The last time I fired a gun was in 1999, and it was an automatic assault rifle, as I was getting my final certification with the Canadian Armed Forces. And when I finished my service, I promptly forgot the whole thing.

The fellow with the new shotgun – Alex – was really excited. He’d only had his new gun out once before, and he was eager to try it again. The other fellow – Ryan – is from Nebraska, and had grown up with guns, but didn’t have one now. So we loaded a backpack full of shotgun shells ($6 for 20), arranged for the skeets, and set out on a walk.

It was a lot like golf, only more awesome, because you get to shoot things and they explode. Much more satisfying than dropping an egg into a hole.

We walked from station to station – eighteen in total – and assessed the challenge at each one. Would the skeets travel from left to right? Would they be floaters or quick? Would they coast over the ridge directly to you? Would it be a “rabbit” that skitters and rolls across the ground? Regardless, you just needed to point the gun and waste ’em.

So. Much. Fun!

So scratch one from my list of American “To-Do”, and chances are good that I’ll take Tasha out do enjoy that experience next time.

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