December 4, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nothing seems quite as stereotypically manly as going out to the shooting range with your 12-gauge shotgun. But, if a local group of newly forged female skeet shooters have their way, the sport will increasingly be going co-ed.

First, a quick tutorial in the oft-misunderstood sport of skeet: The sport requires a shooter to move around a half-moon shaped course, shooting clay disks as they go. While the disks are always shot from the same location, the angles become different as the shooter moves around the course.

“I think this is kind of a big deal [for women to be doing this] because the recoil is really strong so most men don’t believe we can handle it, says Lindsey Rai Ehlers, a member of the all-women’s Omaha skeet team known as The Thundercats.

The group formed by accident—everyone met through their connections with the Ronald McDonald House—then began to toss around ideas about activities they could have fun doing together. Five of the six women are not Omaha natives. The sixth, while she grew up in Omaha, just returned after spending six years in San Francisco.   In addition to Ehlers, the group includes Ashonte Thomas, Lenli Corbett, Lindsay Colwell, Whitney Hayes, and Suzie Heffernan.

Ehlers attributes their similar interest to a desire to absorb Omaha culture being that it is so very different from where many of them originate. “It seemed fitting to try something totally out of our comfort zone, and skeet appears to be pretty common in the Midwest,” she shares.

“No one on our team has ever been a shooter in the past,” Ehlers says. “As a matter of fact, most of us have never touched a gun before this experience.”

The sport is not traditionally a women’s sport, as the group of five quickly discovered. However,
that hasn’t stopped them from practicing with the brawny 12-gauge shotgun, one type of gun
used in registered shoots. As a matter of fact, the team competed in a Ronald McDonald House
shoot in mid-September, a great bonus considering their roots.

Ehlers admits that each time they practice at the gun club, 55-and-over white men who are curious but polite about what the women are up to usually surround them. “Being different and new never stopped any of us from moving across the country, it’s certainly not going to stop us now,” she says.

Ehlers shares that she and the other four women on the team gain a lot from skeet shooting. First of all, it only costs about $6 for a round. She says shooting skeet leaves the women feeling empowered. By trying such a male-centric sport, she says, it helps to give women the courage to take on something they might have put off due to fear. Additionally, she states that there is no shortage of kindness and advice from the wonderful regulars, mainly men, that are there shooting. Feeling intimidated is a non-issue.

Ehlers says that even when the team doesn’t hit much, they always enjoy themselves. “There
is so much more gained than just a new skill. I feel exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded
by so many comedians all at once who are driven to master something new and out of the norm,” she says.

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