ellenHow did I become a Goddess with Gun? In most ways, I was a typical New York City kid. Dad was a teacher, Mom an accountant – nothing telltale there. We lived in a small apartment in a middle-class neighborhood with concrete sidewalks and asphalt playgrounds.

Then my story goes Green Acres, just like the old TV show. My great-aunt owned a dairy farm in upstate New York. Our extended family often stayed in her guesthouse for weekends and vacations. Thanksgiving was our biggest and favorite annual gathering – lots of cousins, animals (dogs, cats, cows, an occasional horse), good food and eventually, our guns.

Every Thanksgiving, we set up the shooting range in one of the fields. The women shot as often as the men – we were an equal opportunity shooting family. I was 10 years old when I shot my first .22 rifle “plinking” at the dump. Shooting cans and bottles with my family remains one of my favorite childhood memories.

Our interest in shotgun sports began when my cousin was given a pair of 12 gauge Purdeys. They were the most beautiful guns we had ever seen. So… we bought a portable manual trap and a reloader and got started.

I was 16 years old and a whopping 5’1” tall when I gave that shotgun a try. I stepped up to the line and yelled, “Pull.” Found the flying clay, swung the barrel and pulled the trigger. The recoil threw me back a few steps, but I had a big smile on my face. It didn’t matter that I missed that clay or countless others that weekend. Eventually I hit them, and watching them break in mid-air was exhilarating. I was hooked on the sport for life.

Fast forward 20+ years. The family stopped going upstate. I moved to the suburbs and eventually became a divorced, working mother with a young daughter. Shooting was a hobby that fell through the cracks.

Believe it or not, online dating gets the credit for returning me to Goddess with Gun glory. Out of the blue, the computer matched me with an expert shooter. Of course, our first date was at his posh gun club.  We went to the skeet range and he handed me a 20 gauge fitted for a woman. I stepped up to the line, loaded the gun and yelled, “Pull.” Unbelievably, I broke that first clay and the next. I was surprised to hit anything after so many years, but it all came back to me as though it was yesterday. Needless to say, I’ve been shooting ever since.

Every time I go shooting, it feels like coming home. And hitting targets today still excites me as much as that kid breaking her first clay all those years ago.