Big Bend Part 2
The next day Quintan, our guide from the resort, drove us to the clay shooting range. The last time I went shooting in a rare spirit of bravado, I had nursed a heavily bruised and purple shoulder for a week. So I wasn’t gung-ho and was more concerned about surviving an hour on the range.
I needn’t have worried because we were in excellent hands with Quintan, who had grown up on a ranch and had learnt to shoot at the age of 5. After working on the ranch, he enlisted in the US Army and served in Iraq for 16 months. Since then, he had sworn off guns and only took tourists clay shooting.
Quintan took one look at the husband and handed him a 12 mm gauge, which has the largest inner diameter of the barrel and the highest power but the most recoil. I was given a 20 mm gauge, which he promised would have a more forgiving recoil. We lined up at the sportrap, which consisted of 5 shooting cages in a line. At each cage, a series of traps would throw out targets at different speeds, elevations and angles. We had 5 shots at each stand. I released the safety catch and took aim!
By the end of it all, the majority of clay pigeons were safe and unharmed. I had had absolutely no luck but was relieved that the recoil hadn’t injured my shoulder. The husband was exhilarated after hitting a couple of targets. And Quintan was happy that for a few hours he had made us feel like a couple of outlaws out in the Wild West.
Later that evening, we explored the surrounding area on horseback with Shawn, our guide and the wrangler on the resort, who had also been a combat veteran and had grown up on a ranch. The horse that I was on, Deedee, quickly figured out that she had an inexperienced rider and stopped every few minutes to graze. We rode out into the desert and picked out a dirt path that weaved through the hills and through the dried riverbed of the Comanche Creek.
“This used to be a smuggling trail. During the Prohibition, alcohol from Mexico was smuggled into the US on these trails. “
We were only a few miles from the Rio Grande River and the Mexican border. And apart from the resort, there was nothing else out here – no border patrol force or security checks. The only sign of life was a lone jack rabbit that scurried away as we approached on horseback.
Before sunset, we took a couple of pictures in front of the Lajitas Mesa, a flat topped hill with steep sides, after which the resort had been named, before heading back.