By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published November 14, 2019

After I turned 70 and later retired from competitive shooting, I knew I needed to find ways to keep my body in shape and my mind sharp.

I cannot ignore the facts. I am getting old. I will turn 73 later this year. However, we all can take steps to try to stave off physical and mental deterioration. Learning something new is a great way to do this. It stimulates your brain, and, if the activity is physical, encourages you to stay in shape.

With that in mind, I decided to transition from pistols to shotguns. I started taking shotgun classes earlier this year .

I signed up for a shotgun class at the Women’s Leadership Forum Summit in September in San Antonio, Texas, and I wanted to gain practice ahead of time. Knowing the summit class was coming up motivated me to begin building my skills.

Pistols to Shotguns

Now, you might think that because I was an 8-time Bianchi Cup women’s division champion, I would be a natural at shotgun shooting. That is not the case. Pistol shooting and shotgun shooting are apples to oranges.

I went from being an expert in one discipline to starting over as a novice in the other.

This did not bother me. After all, my goal for shooting shotguns is not to be a world-class shooter. I left my competition days behind when I retired after the 2018 Bianchi Cup. Rather, my aim is to challenge myself, and what better way to do that than starting an activity that I was not already good at?

I am not afraid to pursue an activity that is outside of my comfort zone. Not every skill you learn is something that would be on your preference list. For example, I don’t even like being in water, but I nonetheless learned to windsurf and waterski because I received the chance to learn those sports. I value opportunities and am loath to let one pass by. I believe every skill I learned throughout life helped me become a championship pistol shooter later on.

When I arrived at my first shotgun lesson at the Coyote Valley Sporting Clay gun range in Morgan Hill, California, I did not even know how to hold the shotgun. My instructor had me use a Browning 20-gauge over/under. It is a lighter shotgun that is good for my petite frame.

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