Bucket list blues: my shots in the dark

September 22, 2016 — by Victor Liu

“Today we’re going to make some real Americans,” the shooting range instructor declared, snapping me out of my daydream of sleeping on real mattresses and eating real food.

Firing a shotgun has never been high up on my bucket list, but when I had the chance to shoot one at Boy Scout camp in New Mexico this past summer, I decided to give it a try.

I definitely should have listened to the instructor's explanations on how to properly shoot, but reading a conveniently placed whiteboard with a quick summary of his lengthy speech seemed sufficient for understanding how to operate a shotgun. Everyone had three shells to use — or waste — on clay targets the staff would throw in the air.

Given my on-and-off relationship with first-person shooter video games such as Gangstar Vegas and Duck Hunt, I confidently stepped onto the range thinking that I would be able to shoot at least two, if not all three, of the targets. That bravado immediately disappeared after I picked up the shotgun.

It was surprisingly heavy for something that movie actors and video game protagonists effortlessly pick up, but I didn’t doubt my un-Channing Tatum-like arms until the instructor threw the first target. I immediately shot — and missed. I put the gun down and rested.

My second shot managed to miss the target again, this time eliciting a slight groan of disapproval from the instructor. I still kept my hopes high because hitting the last target meant beating all the other scouts who missed all of theirs.

My final shot was no better than the first two, striking the tree 5 feet to the right of the target. As I hung my head in defeat, the instructor said, “You missed all those shots because you’re left-eye dominant but you shot on your right side.”

Needless to say, although I failed miserably with zero out of three hits, at least I crossed something off my bucket list. If I ever shoot a shotgun again, I’ll remember to aim with my dominant eye, but for now, I think I’ll stick to virtual shooting.