Any day that involves a shotgun, good weather and great fellowship is a story book perfect day to me!!

FAILURE is the first step to SUCCEEDING. Wow! What a profound statement. One that kept running through my head as I tried to make amends with what put me there…that day…that very moment, on the magnificent sporting clay range in Alpine, Alabama known as Selwood Farms .

Dale Hill explaining to the group the history of Selwood Farms and where the wood came from that the lodge was made of.

What events had unfolded in my life that instilled in me that yearning desire to put forth all efforts in achieving the performance that I really want most? That desire to lay down any failed attempt and trudge forward with a new fire deep in my soul to succeed. What fuels my fatiguing efforts to grasp knowledge, practice precisely, put forth more, physically and mentally, than I ever thought I had in me to succeed.

FAILURE! Missing the target with an arrow, watching an unbroken clay target float to the ground, bird nesting a reel on an easy cast, not cutting a feather on a bird at a dove hunt or even getting turned around in the woods with a GPS. That failure is what makes me psychologically perform better on my next attempt.

That was never more clear to me than it is today as I sit here reminiscing over the 24 hours that I spent with Gil and Vicki Ash, founders and instructors of OSP Shooting School. The event started off with everyone getting acquainted over a wonderful meal at Buttermilk Hill in Sylacauga, Alabama. The food was phenomenal and the service was outstanding.

Buttermilk Hill Restaurant and Bar

Seared Petite Lamb Rack with Rosemary, Lemon, and Capers served with the Chef's Assorted Vegetables.

When we returned to the lodge we spent the evening getting further acquainted with each other, and visiting with our gracious hosts Dale and Carolyn Hill. As a group we engrossed in a discussion on Myelin sheaths that attach to the axon of a neuron. Could it be possible that a person could make this discussion so interesting? You bet! Gil had a way of bringing us this information in an interesting, and somewhat comical way at times, that made a profound realization of how important it is to work at programming a specific movement or task by “perfect” repetition. I could have listened to this “GIL-ISM” all evening long.

Gil explaining cross dominancy

Wednesday we were divided into groups and I was chosen to go with Vicki Ash in a group with the other two women in our group; Lisa Metheny and Hilary Dyer. Our first session was a explanation by Gil of the three important points of the path of a clay. He shared more Gil-ism about the follow through myth, how to focus on the target, importance of focus, and perceived lead. There was humor in this session and we definitely had a few laughs.

Loading up gear and guns and getting ready to go out on the course

Gil explaining the three important points in making a successful shot: focal point, hold point and break point.

Gil explaining the precise moment the shot should be made...when the gun touches the face.

We spent the entire day perfecting our timing and engulfing ourselves in Vicki’s wisdom in our efforts of becoming better shooters. We had the best time as a group being able to laugh and be serious all at the same time. I ingested so many tidbits of information that at one point it became a driving force in my performance. The morning was spent on simple crossing and quartering shots where we each took turns on the shooter’s mark being critiqued on our form and timing.

Success on a crossing clay

Practicing the Ash Flashlight Drill before the trip to the event helped in learning the proper way to mount my gun; not bringing my face to the gun-but the gun to my face. We worked on proper stance, gun placement, the three important points in a shot: focal point, hold point and break point. I learned the importance of slowing down my gun mount, keeping my focus on the clay, when to shift that focus, where to shift that focus to and the importance of a known break point. All of this information as well as the Ash drills can be found in their book “If It Ain’t Broke, FIX IT!” which you can find on the OSP website. Or better yet, sign up for one of their schools or attend school at their place; it will be money well spent. All level of shooters will learn something from the OSP School whether you are a novice or competitive shooter. A competitive shooter can benefit from this schooling and gain a renewed fervor for the sport while learning to use the advantages of a competitive mind in their favor.

Vicki's watchful eye on a quartering shot

After a wonderful lunch of turkey gumbo, homemade slaw, sweet corn muffins, double chocolate fudge pie and vanilla ice cream, cooked and served by Carolyn Hill and her wonderful staff, we headed back out to the range. We spent the afternoon shooting a few crossing and quartering clays in a variety of presentations like the rabbit, springing teal, midi crossing clay and doubles.

My reaction to the springing teal

Shooting the Springing Teal

Vicki explaining the proper hold point on a rabbit.

My first successful shot at a rabbit...ever!!

Shooting from the high house.

During our mid-afternoon session, Carolyn was kind enough to bring us trail mix and was sweet enough to bring me a special prize as a jester after telling her my funny story of a turkey hunt Richard and I went on 3 months after gall bladder surgery. She is such a sweet lady and can make some really great sweet tea! I only wished I would have had more time to sit on the porch swing and drink a glass of sweet tea with her–maybe on my next trip.

A sweet jester from Carolyn after her hearing my turkey hunting story 3 months after gall bladder surgery

Gil and Vicki add a little humor to their teachings…one thing that I am sworn to secrecy on and you will have to attend their OSP School to find out what that is. Another is the eyeball jewelry. If you get caught looking at the barrel of your gun, your gun gets jewelry in the form of eyeballs looking right back at you. I promise, these were not on my gun–I did everything I could to keep my eyes off of my gun to keep from getting my own set of eyeball jewelry.

If you were caught looking at your barrel of your gun--you were awarded gun jewelry!!

Not only did I walk away from this experience with a renewed confidence in my ability to perform better on the sporting clays range or in the field; I walked away with the knowledge of knowing why whenever one fails in performance, they yearn to succeed. That yearning sparks a desire that puts one in overdrive to achieve success in performance. From all failure in performance comes success in some way, shape or form.

Bridge going out unto the range...