Shotguns, saxophones, and Tae Kwon Do: being a teacher and being a student


I went out with Aaron and Max

With shotguns, just to relax

     I didn’t joke

     Those targets I’d smoke

Though missing the ones with the quacks.

I drove down to the firearms range this morning to shoot clay pigeons with a friend, Aaron, and his cousin, Max.  I’ve been teaching young men (and a few young women) to hunt and shoot since 1983.  Aaron is my most recent apprentice.  He’s old enough now that he can drive himself and buy his own shotgun shells. 

At the trap thrower we ran into a man who had just purchased a “coach gun,” a double-barreled, side-by-side 12 gauge shotgun with a short but legal barrel.  He plans to start into Cowboy Action Shooting, the latest shooting game on the American firearms scene. 

Clay pigeons are neither clay nor pigeons; they come in boxes of 90 or 135, they fly like Frisbees, most are colored blaze orange, and they shatter easily. 

While setting up, I learned that the man with the coach gun is a twenty-seven year vet, and now retiree from the army.  I said that I was taking a sabbatical. It turned out he’d not shot clay birds before. 

I told him I could help him learn.  We set clay targets against a dirt bank, and starting five paces away; I had him destroy stationary targets at increasing distances.  Then I had him stand by the thrower and track the movement of the flying clay bird with his shotgun.  When he was tracking well I had him load his scattergun and shoot.  He broke the first two pigeons, and we applauded. 

When it came my turn, I shot my 20 gauge over-under well, turning target after target into small clouds of black smoke. 

We left when the rain started.

I lunched sushi with Aliya, our youngest daughter.  I came home and napped and went to my saxophone lesson.

My playing brought a smile to the face of my teacher, Diane.  She explained some very simple, very basic things about jazz pentatonic scales.  Then she put on a Miles Davis disc, showed me the sheet music, and we traded solos at the breaks.  I don’t know who was more pleased. 

Had I had the kind of musical encouragement, nurturing, and education forty years ago that I got this summer, my career might have gone differently.  All in all, I think things have gone for the best, and my teacher would agree. 

I’m sure my music has acquired a depth that it would haven’t had if I had stayed in the music world.

At five I drove with my friend, John, to Onawa for Tae Kwon Do.  John hopes to test for his fifth degree black belt in October.

I can’t stop being a doctor, and in Onawa I’m outside the thirty-mile limit of my non-compete clause.  Nor can I break confidentiality about what advice I gave in the parking lot (no, I didn’t send a bill).

I will say that real hypoglycemia occurs less often than people think.  Growing adolescents make a lot of a growth hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF), and hypoglycemia in that case tends to come in the morning.  Good treatment demands good diet, with low glycemic index foods, and especially a good breakfast.  But that’s good advice for everyone.

Though four years have passed since my last Tae Kwon Do lesson, I remembered my form well.  John gave good instruction.

Being a student is part of the human condition, and there are those of us who have the urge to teach.  I had a day of being both teacher and student.

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