I don’t remember my first-ever fishing trip, but I do recall the early days of fly-fishing in which hitting the water while standing in it was difficult for me. After a few years I’ve been able to graduate to the “Varsity Beginner” level. People don’t know what that means so I explain I am convinced there are three levels of fly-fishing (Novice, Varsity and Expert) each with three sub-levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced). People ask, “Why not just have nine levels?” I reply, “Because.”
To be a Varsity Beginner means I recently graduated from Advanced Novice which meant I could catch fish just about every time I tried, have caught a variety of fish from a variety of water even when it was new and hooked more than one on nymphs, wet and dry flies I tied myself. I look at what is out there in the form of Advanced Experts who revolutionize rods, make six casts and catch six fish, throw any cast in any situation and can make a 20-fish fly out of their own beard hair, some ear wax and a size 12 hook. I’m not to that level, nor will I probably ever get there. I’ve usually got a beard and ear wax, but I’m no entomologist, I cast lots to catch lots and nothing is named after me.
I do have a lot of fun though, and constantly improve which makes it the perfect time to introduce some chaos into my sporting life. In other words, it’s time to be awful again in a new and interesting way.
Sometimes it is wonderful to be terrible. This usually means that you are trying something new and have yet to achieve a level of proficiency. If I wanted to feel mostly good about myself I’d just do what I’m good at, but that is a recipe for a life of stagnancy which scares me more than Snooki giving advice to Kate Middleton on being a mom.
Sunday I took my new 12-gauge out with a friend to a field in the country, we had permission of course. I bought 75 shells, but only brought 25, thinking that would be more than enough for extended time taking out orange saucers. Of course anyone who shoots clay targets knows 25 shots doesn’t last long.
My buddy Chris was kind enough to just work the thrower and allow me to miss the targets at a faster rate. I was Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn before the glasses; Dwight Howard at the free throw line in the fourth quarter; whoever quarterbacks the Arizona Cardinals. I’d yell, “Pull” and the disk would be flung into the air then float down gently to earth unscathed by my projectiles. But I didn’t get frustrated, because it was only the second time I had pulled the trigger on a 12-gauge, and the inner kid in me loves explosions even if what I’m supposed to hit has a better chance of breaking on a rock when it lands. I’ve shot plenty of rifles and have a BB gun range in my backyard (I live in the country), but my adjustment to scope-less shooting at moving targets will take a little bit.
I ended up hitting exactly one that afternoon, but the one I hit was clean and pure. It was a lot like golf. You play four holes without a decent shot, but then, out 175, put it 10-feet from the cup, or save par with a 30-foot putt and all of a sudden you’re back into it. Things go back to miserable afterward, but that one shot makes all the horrible shots worth it. (Well, that’s at least what golf is like for me.)
So I’m a novice again, doing something my parents enjoyed back in Nebraska and Colorado after they were married, so it’s got to be cool.
If I don’t do it now, when will I, right?
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