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Lessons in luck from Grandpa

Growing up, my Grandpa was always a rather quiet guy, never bragging too much about too much. He was an avid sportsman, extremely patient man, and carried with him a dry sense of humor that many never quite fully grasped.

He also was one of the first people to take me hunting when I was a kid and taught me many of the hunting habits that I still carrying with me to this day. Most were good, but of course maybe some a bit questionable. But that is what Grandpas are supposed to do; add just enough to keep the commotion, curiosity and colorful language going for future generations.

Before hunting season in the fall, a group of my friends would get together a few times in a neighbor's gravel pit to shoot some clay pigeons. Mostly to share some laughs, but also to get warmed up for the upcoming hunting season. It was also good to shoulder a gun a few times, dust off the cobwebs, and pull the trigger on some clay targets before we started pulling the trigger on ducks and geese. After a few times out, we got pretty good at crunching the clay targets. And, being teenagers, of course we bragged about how great of shots we were constantly.

Grandpa caught wind of us boasting and bragging among our group one afternoon. With a smirk on one corner of his mouth and a stogie hanging from the other corner, he asked if he could join us to shoot clay pigeons next time. Of course my friends chuckled a bit and said sure, mostly to humor an old man probably. But I knew better. I knew that Grandpa was one of the best shots I had ever hunted with in my life. He was confident in his ability and always extremely patient; waiting for the right moment and distance before pulling the trigger. Very rarely did I ever see him miss or his shooting result in a cripple.

So there were we in the gravel pit taking turns dusting clay pigeons one after another when Grandpa pulled up to join us. He greeted us and just sat there for a while watching us shoot and complimenting us on our abilities. Finally, one of my friends asked if he would like to take a turn. Grandpa just smiled and said sure, but he only wanted to shoot one. We were all a bit puzzled after he said that, but even more puzzled when he pulled his faded old 22 rifle out of the gun case. One of my friends asked him what the heck he was going to do with that? Grandpa smirked and said, "Any average shooter can hit a clay pigeon in the air with a handful of BBs, but a good shot can hit one in the air with a single 22 bullet."

What happened next I will never forget as long as I live. Grandpa stepped up to take his turn, stogie hanging in the corner of his mouth. The clay pigeon came off the thrower and sailed through the air. Grandpa waited and waited until the right moment, the clay pigeon sailing farther and farther. He pulled the trigger and the distant clay pigeon shattered. We were all in disbelief. Finally, one buddy uttered something about it being a lucky shot under his breath. Grandpa smirked his direction and said, "Luck will get you only so far — how about we try one more?" He then proceeded to shatter another clay pigeon without hesitation while we all stood there in awe. Then, without a word, he put his gun back in the case, hopped in his car and headed home. A smirk in one corner of his mouth and a stogie hanging from the other.