Shooting The Works!

What do you get when you mix pool patriots, philanthropy, and esprit de corps for four days? You get a unique new post-pool-convention event held recently at Pahrump, Nevada, out in the middle of the high desert.

Second Amendment Celebration paid tribute to our nation’s Wounded Warriors with donations all around, and included a four-day firearms training program for both experienced and inexperienced shooters from teens to seniors. Front Sight, one of the nation’s premier firearms training institutes was the venue for this event, arranged through the generosity and organization of Skip Phillips of Questar Pools and Genesis, Doug Mayhall of All Seasons Pools and Lee Groharing of All Seasons Pools. 

“I was very proud to be able to help organize the event and was thrilled to see the great turnout we were able to get. Each and every participant was excited about being able to help pay tribute to all our soldiers, and to financially assist the Wounded Warriors,” said Mayhall.

"Several of us that participated are veterans,” added Bruce Bagin, a partner at B&B Pool and Spa Center, New York, “and as such are very aware of the inadequacies of our government’s support for our returning wounded veterans.  The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful organization that helps these men and women assimilate back into society and with the tough task of adjusting to the physical and mental challenges each of them will face in the future. We are honored to be able to help them in any way we can."

While the group got together for a serious purpose, there was no lack of laughter, fun and some enjoyable fine dining at a couple of the local restaurants as well, with one located in an amazing winery setting.  And the location for the training at Front Sight is also spectacular. The facility is huge and overlooks the remote high desert with dramatic canyons surrounded by beautiful mountains, some snow-topped on our visit.

The days at Front Sight start early, and the training is intense, focused, but also fun. The group attending ranged from expert, experienced shooters down to - well, me. Although I am a sixth generation Texan with an ancestor who fought in the famous “Come and Take It” battle which was the first shot fired of the Texas Revolution (and which, ironically, was about “gun rights”), I tended to be about at the “eek! It’s a gun!” level when we arrived at Front Sight.  

My husband has used guns as tools all of his life, from the ubiquitous childhood bb gun beloved by boys and dreaded by moms (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”), to hunting squirrels with his grandfather as a boy to target shooting for fun with handguns.

He had always wanted me to learn, and finally I decided to conquer my fear, and learn a new skill that can be life-saving if ever, God forbid, the wrong situation should rear its ugly head or the economy gets so bad in the pool industry we are all back to shooting squirrels for food!  

The first day we arrived early and were outfitted with rental equipment including a firearm, magazines, bullets, and eye and ear protection. Safety rules are paramount at Front Sight, and reinforced constantly by the instructors. They use the “buddy” system to help participants coach one another and remind each other of the proper ways of handling a gun. Soon it began to feel automatic to “do the right thing” when handling the firearm.  

The program is very structured.  It includes extensive lectures, which were very interesting. They focused on proper handling and especially appropriate judgment in the use of a firearm, with issues brought out that everyone should think of ahead of time before ever needing to use a firearm in a crisis situation. Then there was lots and lots of range practice, learning step by step the needed skills.

The instructors were very thorough, but also very patient and kind, even in dealing with their most unskilled student struggling with skills requiring strength, such as “racking” the gun (which was difficult for me).  They were all consummate professionals with extensive credentials, and, thank goodness, a good sense of humor!  The teenaged sons and grandsons of the participants present, of course, were the most outstanding at picking up the instruction immediately!  

Tyler Mayhall, Doug Mayhall’s grandson commented, “The instructors were skilled in the art of firearm instruction, and also were humorous, making the long days fun. For anyone who has never shot a gun but wants to learn, this is the place to do so.”

The last two days of the course included some really enjoyable interactive activities, such as sneaking through a little house filled with surprise “bad guys.” The instructor closely monitored and coached us by holding on to each one with a “leash” from behind, helping develop judgment as to when to shoot, when not to shoot, how and why. 

Another fun activity was a shoot-off competition in pairs. The two shot at matched targets for accuracy and time with one of each pair eliminated until one remained as the winner. On a personal note, it felt fantastic to struggle with finally hitting the important target with lots of coaching from the instructor until I finally did it and all the guys cheered! I didn’t win “against” anybody for sure but finally won against myself.

The evenings after hard days of training were spent bonding together at some outstanding dinner parties, two of which were held at Symphony, an excellent Pahrump Valley Winery restaurant. The winery owner addressed our group personally and provided terrific hospitality as well as serving us excellent meals punctuated with fine wines.  

Everyone made it through the course at Front Sight and received a certificate of completion, with some scoring well enough on the final testing to receive advanced recognition. For years our industry has enjoyed special events auxiliary to the convention activities of all kinds.  Many of us have participated. But this unusual experience with other pool professionals truly bonded the group with a camaraderie we have not experienced with any other.  We learned a potentially life-saving skill in company with peers in the industry that brought about a special closeness all of us felt. From experts to the mini-terminator, we all felt, “I’ll be back!”

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