How Clay Pigeon Shooting is Teaching Me Life Lessons

Annie Oakley famously said, “Aim at a high mark and you will hit it.”   Let’s be honest, I am not the first person you imagine spending Sunday afternoons with a shotgun in hand.

It Doesn’t Always Have to Be About Being Perfect

Like many women, I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to be “perfect.” Who doesn’t right? And, when I wasn’t good at something, I simply quit.  Playing sports was one of them. Instead, I focused on things that I knew I could 


do, which is why I focused less on physical activities and more on things like – Yearbook Club and Model United Nations in High School and writing for the newspaper in college. I knew I could be successful. In my 20s and 30s, I got a little more adventurous, but still continued to struggle with being perfect.

When I turned 40, I decided that after all these years something had to change. Fearing failure was no longer option and I needed to find something to help me overcome this challenge.

When my boyfriend and a couple of other friends decided to give clay shooting a shot, I tagged along with the idea not knowing what to expect. On a Sunday afternoon, we rolled up to
Cavalier Sporting Clays in Montpelier, Virginia. Montpelier is a lovely town once home to James and Dolly Madison.

Having never held a shotgun before,  Henry Baskerville, the club’s program director and chief instructor, provided me with a courtesy lesson. Shooting a .410 shotgun I shot a few clays  with the assistance of Henry,  but boy did it feel AMAZING to see the clays burst in smoke.   Each Sunday, we found ourselves at Cavalier Sporting Clays and for those first few weeks, I struggled hitting the pigeons (and at times was a little frustrated), but one day, it clicked with me. All of a sudden I was hitting more and more of them. To gain confidence, I spent time hitting ones that I knew I had a better a chance of hitting rather than ones outside of my comfort zone.  And for the first time, I found a sport I loved

5 Lessons I have Learned

  • Keep both eyes opened –  When I first started shooting, I always closed one of my eyes before I took a shot.  It wasn’t until recently that I learned from  Kate Ahnstrom,  Master Instructor at Cavalier Sporting Clays & Paragon Professional Associate  ( and now great friend) that you never shoot with one eye. You don’t close one eye to focus in life so why do it shooting. Strategize first then shoot.  You’ll be more confident in making that shot.
  • Don’t fear instruction.  When someone tells me what I am doing wrong, I have a habit of trying focus on that one aspect rather than looking at how to improve myself holistically. During a recent shooting lesson with Ahnstrom, rather than “telling” you what was causing me to miss that clay, she helped me think about what I could to adjust my form and breaking strategy.  So when it came to nailing that one fast clay, I could nail it.  
  • It’s empowering.  There’s nothing better than hitting one of those clays and knowing before you do it, is even better.
  • The sense of fear is starting to fade. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge I faced was with myself and my sense of failure. I never let failure discourage me to fulfill my professional dreams.  Clay pigeon shooting has taught me that. So, I miss a shot or two,  It must be because I am not following the process that will enable me to hit that clay.
  • It’s not about being perfect. Clay pigeon shooting is something that Bryan and I do together and it’s fun. It’s fun going out with our friends, hitting a bunch of clays and having a good time.  

It’s Been Nice to Discover the Country Girl in Me

Shooting clays has taught me to be adventurous. I still have some ways to go, but life is a journey and shooting is one of the paths that I am taking.  And while I still love putting on my favorite pumps and hitting the town, I ram starting to like the country girl side of me.

Interested in trying sport clay shooting or taking a private lesson? Visit Cavalier Sporting Clays.

Photo credit – Cavalier Sporting Clays

Sher in the City – Then and Now

cropped-sherinthecity002.jpgTen years ago, I returned to Washington DC after spending five years in my hometown of Charleston, SC.  Single and excited to be back in the city, I chose to live in the trendy Arlington neighborhood  of Shirlington, and continued pursuing my career in public relations and writing. And, so  – Sher in the City was born.

As stated in the about section of the blog (which btw, is a little bit outdated), Sher in the City served as a platform for me to share my adventures, as well as my passion for food, wine and travel –which I did.

What Happened to Sher in the City

Did the adventures end? Did the passion for all loved at 30 change over the years? Not exactly. But, my passion for writing did.  Many writers experience something called “writer’s block” at some point. Even though I had all these things that I wanted to write about – when it came to actually writing them – well, I just couldn’t. So, I decided to take a break, a long break.

Is Sher in the City Still Relevant?

When I decided to launch Sher in the City, I was  in my early 30s and single. Whether it was catching up with friends over mimosas at Sunday  brunch or  dining at on U Street, I found myself in the District several times a week.

15193494_10157793393320057_3452394494297694948_nAnd while I still enjoy meandering through the city streets of District and attending shows at the Kennedy Center often, I am going through my own revitalization personally.

For years, the cosmopolitan side of me was “comfortable.” But, now at 40,  no longer alone, I am tapping outside my comfort zone like:

  • Experiencing life beyond the city like hiking in Acadia National Park in Maine
  • Breaking a board doing a flying side kick at Taekwondo
  •  Staying grounded
  • And most importantly, enjoying what I have today versus what life maybe years from now 

So What Can Readers Expect Now?

Name change? Possibly. But for now, I want to take Sher in the City in a different direction, and hope that my experiences will inspire you, my readers, to step out of your comfort zones.

I hope you’ll  stick around.  I am eager to start sharing them with you.

Experiencing Chicago

Guest Blogger Kendra Thornton

This is part of a series of travel articles composed by myself and Kendra Thornton of Thornton Public Relations

Chi Boat TourTo me, Chicago is the best place to be. I have lived in this town my entire life, but I speak from experience. I have traveled around the world most of my life. I have visited Hong Kong, New York City, Jamaica and many other places. However, Chicago is the city that offers so much. The fact of the matter is that there are many sites to visit.

When in Chicago, one of the best sites to see is the Michigan Avenue Bridge. This bridge, which crosses over the Chicago River, gives visitors and residents a unique look at the city and various skyscrapers. Although some historic bridges are plain, the Michigan Avenue Bridge features a number of memorable sculptures that have lasted the test of time. This bridge has hosted numerous engagement and wedding photos.

Another fantastic site, which is not nearly as old as the Michigan Avenue Bridge, is Millennium Park. This site was originally a place for waste, but former mayor Richard Daley and the city council came together and created a park to be enjoyed by citizens and guests. Located in the downtown district, people can enjoy a break from busy activities. The landscaping is done perfectly, and there are many places to explore. Furthermore, there are activities and programs for people of all ages.

Finding a place to stay in Chicago is nearly as important as deciding what to do and where to go. The options for hotels are nearly limitless, and there are plenty of places around the city to stay. One could stay in downtown Chicago, and see all the lights and the action. Or, one may prefer a historic hotel, like one that Al Capone once frequented.Chicago Beach

When I travel around the United States, I like to visit diners. A favorite one in Chicago is Glenn’s Diner. This restaurant, which is off of West Montrose, has many great dishes that are served daily. One of the reasons that I love Glenn’s Diner is that is serves breakfast throughout the entire day. This enables me to come when I want to, and I do not have to worry about whether I will be able to have breakfast or not. Besides breakfast, Glenn’s Diner has some delicious seafood and food combinations that may come across as unique. Still, all of the food is delicious. In fact, Glenn’s Diner is known for serving a nice variety of cereals.

Stop by for a night or a week, and be amazed at the great opportunities and adventures that are awaiting all who visit. Do not miss out on an amazing experience.

My Summer in DC

By: Guest Blogger Sapna Bakshi

Over the last three weeks I have been spending time with my fabulous aunt in what  I think is the most exciting city in the country, Washington DC. I had so much fun going to all the museums,trying new foods, spending time with my aunt and  my aunt’s dog, Nikki , and also being in an office environment. After this trip to  DC, I have decided to make it a tradition to come every summer.

Going to the museums in DC combined two of my favorite subjects, art and history.   The Sackler Freer Aunt and I at White HouseGallery and The Phillips Collections have  unique pieces of art that really caught my eye, being an avid painter myself. My favorites were the impressionists’ works,    there soft lines and everyday concepts give the illusion that you’re actually in the painting. Ford’s Theatre and the Museum of American History were also really interesting and lots of fun to visit. I loved seeing the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner and also the museum underneath Ford’s Theatre.

Mac and CheeseOne of favorites parts of DC would have to be the food, there are so many different types of food and cuisines to explore. One of my favorite restaurants was Le Pain Quotidien.  I had a Tartine( open face sandwich) with prosciutto, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and basil oil. I really loved the combination of the prosciutto and the mozzarella ,it was so good. Another one of my favorite restaurants was Zantinya. I’m not a huge fan of brussel sprouts, but the brussel sprouts at Zantinya were incredible. My all time favorite restaurant  had to be Cheesetique, their Mac and Cheese is to die for.

Now my favorite part about coming to DC would have to be spending time with my aunt and her dog, Nikki. I had so Nikkimuch roaming around DC and Arlington with them. Coming home and seeing Nikki makes your day so much brighter and better. We have become like sisters; she is such a delight to have around and I will miss her so much. My aunt is the best; she is so much fun to hang out with. She is like my best friend, we watch movies together, make food together, play with Nikki, shop, and pretty much everything else you would do with your closest friend.

Getting to intern at my aunt’s office was such a fun experience. I have learned so much about being in a work environment and web development. At first, I was overwhelmed by all the new information, but after my first week I was very comfortable in my aunt’s office.I was editing blogs,researching articles, working with analytics and so much more. I worked on my grammar, computer skills and communication. I will definitely be taking these skills and using them in school.

In DCI feel very proud of myself after this trip, I have learned so much and done so much. I’ve experienced different cultures, different people and different places. If I had to describe this trip in one word I would say thankful. Without my family I would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience, and without my new friends I would not have been able to learn so much.

How France Reminded Me “It’s Ok to Feel Fabulous”

DSCN0537Imagine, sitting in the main square of small French village in the South of France drinking local wine, indulging in local cuisine with Edith Piaf performing in the background.

Well, that was me a couple of months of ago.Whenever I’d dreamed about my first trip to France (yes, it’s hard to believe), I always thought about eating local fare and taking in the culture while sipping a local wine. And, voila, here I was, experiencing what I’d been dreaming about for months.

Provence Couldn’t Have Come at a Better Time

My trip came at the right time in my life. It’d been a very long time since I’d done DSCN0553anything for myself-very long time.   Having just been dumped, and tired of celebrating everyone else’s major milestones while I was still single at 36, I decided to do something about it. I booked a trip to France with my favorite aunt. And, let me say I am so glad that I did because Provence welcomed me with open arms and made me feel fabulous. The timing couldn’t have been better.

How France Made Me Feel Fabulous

Eating breakfast every morning under the warm sun away from the daily grind and stress, I reconnected with myself. I felt happy and it DSCN0545wasn’t because of someone or something, it was because of me.  So, what did France teach me within 24 hours of arriving?

  • Spend an extra few minutes on yourself, you’ll feel fabulous.  Whether it’s adding a string of pearls or a scarf to add a bit of color around your neck, take an extra minute to add that special touch. It’ll make you feel wonderful.
  • Sit down and take in the scene. When traveling somewhere new, many of us want to rush to the next place on our itinerary. But,  look at the people around you, they are not running around instead they are sitting somewhere soaking in the culture. Remember, you are on vacation.
  • Take something back with you that you’ll incorporate into your life.  When I returned back to DC, I brought back not one but several things with me that I incorporate into my life now–I wake up early each morning and take about 20 minutes to enjoy it. It includes a short walk with Nikki, reading the paper and sipping a cup of coffee. It has changed my life. Sometimes it’s the little things that you do that lead you through life. Don’t you agree?

And finally, you don’t need an excuse to enjoy a glass of wine BUT sip it don’t gulp it down … just like life.

Have you been to Provence? How would you describe your experience? And what lessons did you bring back with you?

Being Single is NOT the Same as Being Alone

“I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” — Audrey Hepburn

sherrie_nikki061I am 36 and I am single, but I am definitely not alone. I have an amazing family,  a wonderful group of friends and Nikki, my eight year old Finnish Spitz mix.

When I leave for work each morning,  she says goodbye to me at the door and when I return home she is there to greet me.

Nikki has been with me for nearly a decade. The minute our eyes met eight years ago in a local animal shelter, I knew it was love! As Anne of Green Gables would say, we were two “kindred spirits.”

When Nikki had surgery a few years ago to remove a tumor on her leg, I was scared. The word “cancer”  rocked our world. But, I remember, Nikki looking at me and in her own way, told me she was going to be ok, and she was right.nikki017

Those who have dogs understand where I am coming from. Nikki has been with me through some of the most difficult times of my life and she has also been there to celebrate the best times. Whether it’s spending a weekend afternoon the dog park, lounging at home or enjoying a road trip together, every moment we spent is precious.

I may be single, but like I said, I am definitely not alone.

Am I the Indian Carrie Bradshaw?

“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them. -Carrie Bradshaw”

sherinthecity099I know it sounds funny, but sometimes I wonder, “Am I the Indian Carrie Bradshaw?” A few weeks ago, I posted it on Facebook and the responses were hysterical.

The truth is, I think many of us relate to her or one of the characters from Sex and the City. I remember watching the show when it first came out more than a decade ago ( has it been that long)? I was in my 20s and I believed Carrie and I so related. I whined about my daily dilemmas,  yearned for the attention from my then “love of my life.” and yes, drank cosmopolitans because it was “trendy.”

But, let’s be honest, I relate more to Carrie Bradshaw now then I ever did in my 20s.

  • I’ve got the best girlfriends in the world. I am not bragging–I seriously do. A woman cannot go through life without her friends. I sure can’t live without mine!
  • I still have my dating dilemmas. But, I have a group of girlfriends who make me laugh about them, vent to, etc. I mean seriously, the last guy I went out with may not have ditched me on a “post it,” but did on a text. And, guess what, my girlfriends made me laugh about it instead of  sulk!
  • I moved away from cosmopolitans and moved on to scotch and on occasion dirty martinis. Let’s not forget a good glass of Pinot Noir either. Like Carrie, my style, my thinking, my philosophy is changing with age.
  • I don’t mind being single anymore. I finally came to a point that I am “ok” with being single.  Yes, it will be nice to find a companion, but if I go on one more BAD date, I think I will just die (not literally, but can’t do it anymore). So, when it is meant happen, it will.  In the meantime, I will embrace my independence.sherinthecity009
  • I love being a city girl.I love going to fabulous parties, attending the performing arts, meandering though the city, hanging out with friends and brunch (it’s one of my favorite meals).

We all are our own unique individuals, but sometimes, we relate to the characters that we come across through books, movies and TV.

Who do you relate to?