Niagara Gazette — The four women stood in a line and raised their shotguns to their cheeks, one by one.
The youngest, Stephanie Gaskill, 19, took a breath to steady herself and shouted “Pull!” A bright orange disk flew from a low shed in the field and she pressed the trigger on her gun. A loud bang shattered the silence of a recent country morning. The orange disk shattered in mid-flight.
The other women responded with affectionate shouts of approval at the teen’s success. But, as each took a turn firing at the clay “birds,” it didn’t so much matter if somebody hit or missed. The four ladies cheered each other as they shot round after round, clearly just enjoying being outside with each other and firing their guns in the 40-degree sunshine.
“That’s why we call ourselves ‘Shoot N’ Hoot,’ “ said Colleen Gaskill of Lockport, leader of the ladies league at North Forest Rod and Gun Club in Lockport. “Because we hoot and cheer each other on.”
Colleen and Kathy Kristy, both of Lockport and both certified NRA instructors, started the group five years ago to give area women a safe place for recreational shooting.
Mary Case, 76, of Lockport, picked up a gun for the first time about four years ago and grew to love the sport. Now, her two daughters join her regularly at the club to shoot.
Kristy, a real estate agent with MJ Peterson, started shooting when she was having some personal challenges in her life. The firing of the shotgun brought her a certain satisfaction and smashing the clay birds with a well-placed shell felt exhilarating. “Once you start hitting ‘em, it’s addicting,” Kristy said.
The women don’t just shoot shot guns when they gather. They also shoot rifles and pistols and bows. Once, during a visit by the Town of Tonawanda Swat Team, Mary had the chance to fire a .50-caliber rifle.