Annie Oakley

The attraction to guests at our Thanksgiving gatherings is not only family, food and fellowship. It's also firearms.

Somehow, years and years ago, target shooting and clay pigeon shooting became an after-dinner Thanksgiving tradition.

My dad was a firearms safety instructor for most of his life. I learned at a young age how to safely handle guns and to shoot clay pigeons. I didn't have a girly-girl fear of guns, just a healthy respect for them. I often hunted grouse and deer with the menfolk of the family. Dad instructed countless young people, including my older kids, in the skills of shooting and he took groups out in the mountains for shooting practice. I think this is where our holiday shooting games started. Dad's been gone since 1999 but the after dinner shooting tradition has continued.

His voice emphasizing safety still rings in our ears.

After some time getting warmed up with practice the shooters play a game we call Annie Oakley. This is where the shooters take turns taking a shot at a flying clay pigeon. If someone misses but the next person in line hits the clay, the first shooter is out. Anyone who misses the shot on their turn is out of the game until there is one winner left who hit the most targets. The girls made a good showing this year. The little boys are getting very proficient with the shotguns and hit at least as many as they missed. They were mighty proud of themselves.

And once again Mama won a game of Annie Oakley. Yes, she did.