Nov 16, 2019 | By: Daniel Schindler, Master Clay Target and Wingshooting Instructor
“You cannot do a kindness too soon
because you will never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The mountains here are ablaze with color and many are replacing their # 8’s with # 5’s. For those of you here who believe this is all about shooting, I humbly offer you the following experience.
At 6’ 5”, Dave Miller ran 3 miles in the morning just to warm up before exercising. A gentle giant, he and I were close friends.
It was mid-October in PA. Dave had a client who wanted to go pheasant hunting. With the hunt arranged at the preserve, Dave called and asked me to join them. Having just received my anniversary gift, a Winchester Model 21, I was delighted.
Arriving at the Lodge, we shook hands with the guest. Dave’s older Lab Sally was eager to get started and running out of patience. I remember.
Closing the tailgate and stepping onto the field – out of respect for Dave and his guest – I loaded 2 shells in their chambers and placed the open SxS over my shoulder, barrels forward. The field in front of us looked a long one, holding a brilliant mix of leftover corn stalks and optimistic piles of brush. Off we went, inspired by Sally’s contagious urgency.
Maybe a hundred yards from the truck, Sally got birdy. 2 roosters went up and the guest fired three times. Not a feather! The 21 still open, I’d held my fire. As the guest looked down to reload, Dave glanced at me. I smiled and shrugged politely. My expression said – thanks Dave, I’m really glad I’m here. Next time, Dan will shoot.
Again, Sally settled down into her work mode and forged ahead. For fifteen lovely minutes, our humble group soaked up the sun, the joy in our fellowship and the hunt. That’s when I saw Sally look back to make sure we were paying attention. 2 guns up. Four handsome birds launched into their escape and escape they did. I could not fire as the birds all went where the client was standing. Let’s see – where are we? Client 0 – pheasants 6. As Dave and I reassured him, I noticed Sally lying down, studying the three of us over her greying muzzle. Our eyes met. Being a dog person – I assure you – she was contemplating what had just happened. An omen? Hold onto that.
At the whistle, Sally pulled us towards the end of the field. Dead ahead – definitely a pheasant lounging area. Dan was thinking, 3rd time’s a charm. This will work. Our guest went left. Committed, I went right. We were ready. Sally did the deed and up they went. And went. Again, intact, they scattered downhill and left so I could only watch. Adding insult, they celebrated raucously as they sailed triumphantly into the tree line. The silence crept over us. That’s when Sally walked between us and kept on walking. On a mission, ignoring Dave’s whistle and calls, we watched her close the distance to the truck. There – she finally stopped, looked back at us, went under the truck and laid down. Dave told the client she’d just gone back for water. Dan? He went for a short walk to stifle himself, something he could barely do.
With some coaxing, Dave retrieved her and guns were again loaded. That’s when I caught Dave’s anxious expression, urging me to shoot. The hunting Spirits must’ve heard and the next flush went my way. I dropped both birds cleanly. Our guest shook my hand and smiled sincerely. Standing very still and looking right at us, I swear, Sally forgave us. Tail wagging, she brushed against me and went back to work. After some encouragement and a shooting tip or two, our guest collected two birds. I’m not sure who was happiest. All four of us I think.
Here at my keyboard, all this seems like yesterday.
The following week, Dave went into the hospital where surgeons discovered untreatable cancer. And then, like the sun going down for one last time, Dave was gone. Sally passed shortly thereafter.
“Enjoy the little things,
for one day you may look back and realize
they were the big things.”
The permanency of the falling leaves this spectacular season reminds us to take a moment to remember, to celebrate what matters most and be thankful for what brings us together today. Be safe and I hope to meet you at River Bend Sportsmans Resort.
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of the Guild of Shooting Instructors (UK) and is one of the most highly respected Sporting Clays and Wingshooting Instructors in the US. Dan is an NSCA Level III Instructor (since 1995) and founded the Paragon School of Sporting with one goal in mind. Whether it be for the advanced competitor or providing the basics to the entry-level shooter, Paragon provides the simplest, most practical and most effective Instruction, Coaching and Mental Training for the Sporting Clays & Wingshooting enthusiast. Dan Schindler helps shooters alleviate a lot of their frustration by taking the mystery out of breaking targets, calling their own misses and make their own corrections. Lessons are fun, enlightening and our clients learn to shoot better in minutes!
Take the MYSTERY out of missing targets and help you quickly learn steps to shoot more CONSISTENTLY! Order Dan's 3 books NOW!
Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer...
and is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting. This book is used by high school and college shooting teams, recreational and competitive shooters from around the world. Solid, valuable, concise information that has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores.
To The Target (Book II) Builds on the steps outlined in Book I. Emphasises Gun Management skills when the trap fires, creating a consistent, reliable, trustworthy swing.
Beyond the Target (Book III) is for shooters of all levels, filled with valuable information, clay target truths. Entertaining and a culmination of 3 decades of Dan's life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.
"Take Your Best Shot is the best clay and wingshooting shooting primer on the market that I have ever seen. The brilliance of its simplicity aids in getting across the correct messages for successful shooting for ANY clay/wingshooting shooter, let alone a new shooter. As a master instructor, founder/Head Coach of the Jacksonville University Shooting Team (a national championship program), and JU faculty member, Take Your Best Shot is standard reading for ALL of our varsity shooters. Dan has managed to capture the basics beautifully, and he has placed them in an easy, simple-to-follow, witty presentation. My students love the book and read it time and again. Highly recommend, no matter what your level of shooting experience and expertise."
David T. Dobson, M.B.A.
Paragon Master Instructor
NSCA Instructor, Level III
NSSA Instructor, Level III
Mark EngenThese three books are a must-read for all clay target shooters. They are clear, concise, logical instructions on how to shoot clay targets and how to improve your scores. Taking a lesson from Dan would be very advantageous & help hasten the learning process. He has been my instructor for 15 years. With each lesson, I always come away amazed at how much I have learned & how my scores improve. He also emphasizes how important it is to practice regularly & stay with his advice & recommendations to really learn new skills to improve your scores. He has helped me tremendously & I highly recommend him.