Coach Pat, Patrick Dolan, passed away last Friday, October 22, 2005.
Most of the pistol shooters at the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club and many of those who frequented the public range had come to know his sometimes goading, sometimes soothing voice. He called a great many of the Bullseye competitions. Anyone who has competed there has probably heard him announce, “The line is safe. Go down and score those targets, … and cover up that mess.”
I met Coach Pat when I came to watch a Bullseye Pistol competition a year ago. I had been shooting for all of a few short months and had learned only that accurate pistol shooting was hard, very hard. While the competitors were down scoring targets, Coach Pat introduced himself and answered my questions about the sport. By way of suggestion, he said he gave private lessons “for twenty bucks until one of us gets tired or pissed off.” Amused at the time, I would come to value his direct and “no holds barred” style of coaching. He was honest and real.
His love of the sport of competitive pistol shooting was surpassed only by his desire to see shooters getting better and better. Some like to teach because it lets them show what they know. Others teach because they truly want others to do better. Coach Pat was solidly in the second group: he wanted to see others hitting closer and closer to the X. Their progress, their growth, was his joy.
Pat’s patience was truly extraordinary. Every time he repeated, yet again, some instruction I just couldn’t get, it was as if he were saying it for the first time, measured, clear and direct. I can hear, even now, “level and smooooth, level and smooooth.”
And in his rare, introspective moments, it was as if each event in his life had been a shot that stood out clear and stark, but after a brief glance at the goal, his focus would come back to the front sight, the next shot, the next moment in his life.
I think he would have said, “Life is now. Focus here, right here.”
Coach Pat taught many to shoot; most got more.