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March 10, 2011 / Dave Gorham

Meteorologists: Packing Heat On A Fairly Cold Day

MTS Sporting ClaysLast weekend, ImpactWeather fielded two five-man teams at the Marine Technology Society’s annual Sporting Clays Tournament.  We also sponsored one of the mobile beverage carts but instead we distributed cookies I’d ordered designed to look like clay pigeons.  The cookies were a hit because there wasn’t any other dessert and, well, because they looked like clay pigeons.  Watch a short video about the event here.

So what’s it like to participate in a shooting competition along with more than 700 other shooters at what’s now the largest scholarship-oriented sporting clays event in the country?  In a word, it’s a blast.  And loud.  And, at least last Saturday, extremely challenging.  Following a week in the balmy 70s, southeast Texas bristled as a fairly strong and very windy late winter front passed through earlier that morning.  The event was held out on the prairie at American Shooting Centers where winds were 20 knots sustained with gusts to 35 all day long.  The wind, along with a series of brisk showers, made for much more of an adventure.  Fortunately by late in the day, the sun had begun to break through the clouds and some of the heavy jackets were stowed in the golf carts.

How many golf carts does it take to support such a large shooting event? All of them. Actually, 224. All photos by Fred Rogers

But the wind also drove the scores down.  Depending on the trajectory of the clay relevant to the position of the shooter, high winds usually make for a much harder shot.  Tailwind?  Not that big a deal.  But a pigeon launched into the wind (where’ve we heard that before?) and perpendicular to the direction the shooter faces will result in a wildly bobbing pigeon that’s challenging to hit, to say the least.  Challenging and obnoxious.  But it makes for its own kind of fun because there’s definitely more ribbing and chuckling at each station.  And, in all fairness, some shooters were expert and rarely missed – wind or no wind.

Just a little bit o' gumbo.

And the food!  The food deserves its own paragraph.  Perfectly spiced boudin for breakfast and for lunch, the largest kettle of gumbo I’ve ever seen and literally the tastiest fried catfish I’ve ever eaten, plus grilled steaks, pork chops, sausage, jambalaya, beignets, jerky, chocolate and more.  If I’d thought I could have done so discreetly, I’d have bundled several to-go containers under my jacket.  It was just that good and there was more than enough to go around.  The event also featured several raffles and chance squares for prizes such as an iPad, a Kimber .45 pistol, a golf cart, a Browning shotgun and a Thompson submachine gun.  (Alas, I won neither the iPad nor the Tommy gun, although Dave won tickets to see Rascall Flatts at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo tonight.)

IW Team One: Rob Mitchell (Ops), Mickey Lee (Industry Manager), Steven Abreu-Hill (Ops), Robert Russo (husband of Business Admin Charlotte Russo) and Chris Hebert (Ops). Also featured: the red-spectacled station supervisor whose name I didn’t get.

How’d we do?  IW Team One did us proud with a total score of 301 hits out of a possible 500.  Trust me – a 301 on that field on that day was an accomplishment, although I confess the overall winning team shot a Texas-league score of 459.  IW Team Two . . . well IW Team Two didn’t do quite as well as Team One.  What’s most important is that we had a lot of fun and what’s really most important is that the event raised more than $92,000 for scholarships to help create future marine engineers.  And you can’t shoot any holes in that.

IW Team Two: Dave Gorham (Broadcast), Kyle Tupin (VP IT), SumYun Guy (IT), Bob Weinzapfel (IT) and Nathan Stanford (Ops).

We’ve already signed up for the 2012 tournament.  I’ve put in an order for much calmer weather for that day.

Inside the pavilion during lunch.

Mmmm. Clay pigeon cookiiiiiieeeees . . .

Dave’s auto 12 gauge ejects an empty shot shell as it fires.

A  special tip of the ImpactWeather hat to Saipem America’s Jennifer Williams for pulling off such an elaborate event and for doing so flawlessly.  To get involved in next year’s tournament either as a sponsor or to field a team, email Jennifer.

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