Man Scouts: Shooting Sporting Clays

June 20, eight Man Scouts from New Hope Church drove out to Silver Willow Sporting Club near Carstairs for an evening of shooting sporting clays with shotguns. Few things can compare to the sheer manliness of shooting a shotgun - maybe growing a beard? Anyway, we split into a couple teams and ran through the beginner/intermediate shooting course which is 10 stations with 2 different clay launches at each station where each shooter gets to shoot 5 clays (50 clays in total).

It's been a few years since I shot a shotgun in BC with uncle Terry, but I get the hang of it again pretty quickly. We alternate who goes first at each station since the first clay is sometimes difficult to spot as it flies from different spots in different directions and at different speeds. The challenge is to shoot it early if it is flying away from you and lead your sights ahead of where it will be. The launches are under little wooden shelters and fire clays in a great variety of settings: swamps, clearings, woods, bushes. A few clays come flying from up over your head and you have to spot them as they go flying away from you.

The entire process is very high tech. Your purchase of clay discs is loaded onto a card which is then placed onto a controller. The controller has two options, A and B, which launch the two different clays. The shooter loads their shotgun in a wooden frame and cries "pull" which is signal to the other who is managing the controller. Our group let the first shooter decide what the 5th shot would be: A or B. One of the unique shots was one that was shot along the ground and bounced around like a running rabbit (I didn't hit that one).

I intend to shoot only 25 clays with my buddy, but my buddy doesn't show up so I fire 50 shells and end up with a decent bruise on my shoulder. And yes, I held the gun tight against my shoulder and my face tight too. I end up with a rather modest score of 21 hits out of 50. The best shots are John and Kenton with 35. I admit (or provide excuse for my poor showing) that I got lazy and tired during the last 4 stations. I enjoyed taking pictures and watching others shoot. It was a long week leading up to this night.

My Mother, the Canadian

Yesterday I was able to assist the swearing in of 84 new Canadians under the supervision of Judge Lei here in Calgary. It was my first of such ceremonies, though I have heard from various people and radio stories that they are dramatic and moving, so I was prepared.

Most notable however was the reason I left my messy, half-packed up classroom for the afternoon. My mother who has been living in Canada for exactly 39 years and 8 months was among the new 84 subjects of Queen Elizabeth II. I was lucky enough to be free to attend and was the only friend/family to be there for the event.

There were many people from some 30 countries along with their close ones in the small, heavily Canadian themed courtroom. I found a seat and then mom found me. She recounted in great detail how her morning had passed with all the waiting, the interview, and meeting other citizenship candidates. She also had some pretty swag gear like a big poster of all the provinces and their info.

The ceremony began with the clerk giving us a run down of the event and Judge Lei being ushered in by an RCMP officer. I was very impressed with the judge's remarks on the rights and responsibilities that accompany Canadian citizenship and her reflections on the struggles many of the day's candidates would have experienced to reach this milestone. Her speech heavily accented "Canada" and "Canadian" when they came up. She led in the oath taking in both official languages and we all stood repeating after her raising our right hands:

Je jure (ou j’affirme solennellement) Que je serai fidèle Et porterai sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux Reine du Canada À ses héritiers et successeurs Que j’observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada Et que je remplirai loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien.
I swear (or affirm) That I will be faithful And bear true allegiance To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Queen of Canada Her Heirs and Successors And that I will faithfully observe The laws of Canada And fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
She presented certificates to each one [pictured]. It was pretty relaxed and she took a couple moments to meet each person and welcome them to citizenship. She led in singing O Canada and invited all the children in the audience to join her up front - this was actually the most emotional for me as it created a picture of Canada with great promise and innocence.

Mom and I walked through downtown and enjoyed a beer before heading back to my place where she enjoyed her first delicious meal as a Canadienne. Amber even made some cool cupcakes with red wine (mom's favorite) in them and little Canadian flags sticking out of them.

Mom left her home in Massachusetts on her 18th birthday early in her senior year of high school to join my father in New Brunswick.  She began her family with my birth almost 2 years later, followed by my sisters. She lived in NB, BC, and AB, settling finally in Alberta these past 20 years.

So, welcome to the confederation!

If you want to know more about my mom, check out her brand new blog about being short and cooking healthy food: Life on the Short Side.


Marathon: The Second

Ever since having finished my first marathon in May 2012, I have been longing to replicate the experience. It was one of the most exhilarating times of my life. So, in early February I casually mentioned to Heather, one of my housemates, that I should run the Calgary marathon on June 1st. She said if I would run the marathon, she would run the half. I said sure. Then she registered.

Training again was the true struggle. I was forever faced with time challenges as my work and home responsibilities made it difficult to carve out hours to run. In the end I ran 450 kms in training over the 16 weeks prior to the marathon, with a couple 32 km runs in there and a host of intervals and hills (oh, Home Road!!).

I was so busy leading up to the marathon that I hadn't really had much time to fret. The day before, I went for a 15 minute run early in the morning with Heather to get the muscles ready, then collected all my gear together for the early departure to the race the next day:

running shirt, running shorts, light socks, hydration belt with 4 bottles, bandana, headband, bib, running shoes, cash for after, lip balm, face sunscreen, sunglasses, train tickets for transport to and from the race, fruit gummy snacks, ibuprofen, nipple bandages, GPS tracker, energy gel, bag for bag check with morning sweater / deodorant / after flip flops / Nalgene with frozen protein shake for after
I ended up making a last minute call and leaving the hydration belt and bottles behind in favour of a lighter fun and relying completely on the water/gatorade tables every couple kms.

The gate I was supposed to begin the race with was inaccessible when I arrived and so the run began at a much slower pace than I had hoped. I weaved between people trying to get ahead of the masses for the first 4 or 5 kms through Inglewood, Bridgeland, and East Village. The runners eventually thinned out and I haphazardly ran into my old friend Tom from university. He was running his 7th marathon - his first was the same as my first. We hadn't seen each other since college, back in 1996 maybe. We loped along together for a couple kms and then I left him behind as we approached Mount Royal University.

We wound back into downtown and over the 14th street bridge into Kensington where I ran into my beer tasting buddy Gordon. He was there taking pictures for another friend, so he snapped a pics of me too. I ran west and then turned around 3 kms later and ran along Memorial Dr all the way to Centre St when I crossed back into the south for the final 4 kms (which were brutal!). Jesse, a coworker, came down to the river to cheer me on and for the final 7 kms he rode his bike parallel to the track to encourage me. He snapped a few great shots too.

As I mentioned, the last kms were gruelling. I accidentally dropped my last cup of water 3 kms from the end and I was so thirsty! Also, at about km 32, I put a powergel in my pocket and it burst there. Tangerine flavour goop ran all the way down my leg and stuck between my sock and the top of my foot. It was very uncomfortable - and I needed that energy. The only injury I suffered was my sock tearing at my skin where the gel was.

The end was glorious. I was disappointed that my time wasn't better, but I did beat my 2012 time by 4 minutes. Amber, the kids and my friend Stephanie (who ran the 21.1 km) were at the finish line to cheer me in. I got my massive belt buckle and water and bit of snacks before grabbing my checked bag with the protein shake. It was still cold. The kids had their medals from their 1.2 km run which capped off a total of 42.2 kms that they ran in the months previous, so they ran marathons too.

My family went home before I did as there were things they needed to tend to and I still had my massage. My massage was great, mostly due to the fact that I wasn't moving and I was laying flat. I then took transit home and walked the 1 km home.