CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Amanda Litton's concession to romance is now a growing passion.
The 27-year-old nurse ventured into the shooting sports to spend more time with her new boyfriend. What started as a quick outing to shoot pistols has transformed into trip after trip to the skeet club and days of tramping the woods in search of turkeys.
"If you had told me a year ago I'd be doing all this, I would have laughed at you," said the Dunbar resident.
It's not that Litton feared or distrusted firearms; she just didn't dream she'd ever shoot them recreationally.
"I grew up around guns," she said. "My dad was in the military, and we always had guns in the house. I shot BB guns with Dad and tried a few rifles and pistols, but I never got into it."
That changed last year, when, within the span of five months, Litton obtained a permit to carry a concealed handgun and she started dating a shooting-sports enthusiast.
"I work nights, and I got the concealed-carry permit in the interest of safety," she said. "Then in December I started dating Todd."
Litton's new boyfriend told her he'd like to share his hobbies with her. She asked him what they were.
"He told me he liked hunting, shooting, skeet shooting and fishing. I said, 'I'll try anything once as long as it doesn't hurt me or kill me,'" she recalled.
They had their first "shooting date" in January.
"We took our pistols to a little range near Marmet," Litton said. "It was cold, and we were really bundled up. We were the only two people out there. We started shooting, and Todd said, 'Wow, you're really a good shot!'"
Two or three weeks later they went skeet shooting.
"I was quite a sight," she said with a laugh. "I was wearing camouflage pants, a long-sleeved shirt I had worn under my scrubs, and an awesome pair of polka-dotted black rain boots. One of the skeet club members loaned me his son's 20-gauge pump gun, and I shot my first two rounds with that."
For someone accustomed to shooting at stationary targets, hitting airborne, fast-moving clay birds can be quite a challenge. It was for Litton, too.