Unique customer highlights opening days at new shooting range
Janice Cloutier last month experienced the joy of becoming a great-grandmother.
While in Forest Lake this past weekend, the 72-year-old spent her time in typical matriarch fashion: She watched a grandson’s football game and attended a granddaughter’s wedding.
Then Tuesday came, and great-granny fired off rounds from Ruger Mark II target guns at the shooting range.
That ought to spice up conversation at the card table this week back in Wisconsin.
“When she comes to visit, we always make sure she has really good stories to take back to tell her sisters when they play cards,” said Kim Cloutier, who surprised her mother-in-law with Tuesday’s stop at Lakes Trading Company in Forest Lake..
The gun shop opened its range on Sept. 24 and it did not take long for owner Ben Oliver to get a unique customer.
Oliver employs Hunter Cloutier, the son of Kim and grandson of Janice. The 19-year-old this winter took his mother to a shooting range, where she fired a gun for the first time in 28 years.
“I enjoyed it so much,” Kim Cloutier said. “It’s just fun to do. You’ve got to try it once.”
She since has loaded up on protective gear and targets and has been going to the range with her son on a regular basis.
The successful venture into target shooting inspired Kim Cloutier to pass on the hobby. Her mother-in-law spent many years shooting for pleasure at tin cans, glass bottles and other impromptu targets. But that was many years ago. Thirty-one years, in fact.
Janice Cloutier had last handled a firearm in 1982, when her first true deer hunting attempt ended on a sour note.
“I really found out what they meant about buck fever,” she said. “I shot, but I shot the ground.”
Though the Cloutiers were together all weekend, it was not until Tuesday morning that Kim Cloutier floated the wild idea.
“On her first initial response, I thought, ‘Oh, no. We’re not going to get her out there,’” Kim Cloutier said.
Eventually, though, the guest of honor relented, likely comforted by the thought of bonding with her grandson.
“It’s usually not a woman thing, but Janice is spunky enough that I knew she would try it,” Kim Cloutier said.
It turned out that old habits die hard.
“I have a tendency to shake, and I was very nervous when I came in here,” Janice Cloutier said. “But (the familiarity) did come back, and it does. … I knew how a rifle felt against my shoulder and all that.”
Shooting both a pistol and a rifle at the new 10-lane, 25-yard range, she earned respect and praise from her grandson.
“My mom and grandma both shot a lot better than I expected them to do,” Hunter Cloutier said. “It’s a cool thing to get to share it.”
Chances are, he’ll be getting to share his passion whenever grandma visits.
“The next time she comes, she’ll probably say, ‘Do you think we can go shooting again?’” Kim Cloutier said.