How does the old song go? Don't go out a-shootin' with drinkin' on your mind? That could never apply to Blake Shelton, whose Dean Martin-esque persona always allows for the thought of alcohol, if not the actuality. So, leading an NRA celebrity shoot outside Las Vegas on Saturday, he clarified his state of mind at one of the skeet-blasting stops along the way.
"I didn't push the issue when we got here, when they said the second you have a drink, an adult beverage, you can't shoot anymore. But luckily I don't know if you can have a hangover and still do this, but I am. I didn't know where the gray area is there, but I'm definitely feeling it from last night. This is Las Vegas."
If anybody can handle his hangover under skill-requiring circumstances, it's Blake Shelton. And he's not making any promises or threats about how he'll be feeling when it's time for him to host the ACM Awards Sunday night, except... unworried. You'd expect any less from country music's king of carefree?
"Last year I was pretty nervous about it," Shelton said between taking shots... as in gunshots. "This year I'm not taking it that serious at all. It'll be fun. I think we'll both be a little bit more comfortable. I think Reba, even though she won't admit it, was a little bit nervous last year just by the fact that she was 'What the hell is he gonna do?" But I'll try not to embarrass the family too much."
As usual, Shelton was the picture of nonchalance as he took to the shooting range on the eve of his ACMs hosting appearance. He compared himself to Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, and he took out his iPhone to record video of the media trailing him along the course, wanting to memorialize our interest in him as a great sportsman.
"I want you to look at this," he said, basking in the attention after blowing apart some clay plates. "See this? This is like Tiger Woods when he's winning a tournament. The press, they follow who's winning. This isn't a popularity contest. This is about skill and having the ability to dominate a tournament. It's about winnng the match. And I don't think you'll see a changing of the guard before this day is out. This is the first hole, and I think I've pretty much set the bar high right off the bat."
Earlier, at a breakfast preceding the shoot, Shelton had baited his fellow celebrity participants. "I want to talk about something that happened last year, and more specifically the country artists that are here and the teams: You guys suck. It's embarrassing. Craig (Morgan), you have a damn hunting show! Gary LeVox won this thing last year!... Let's raise the bar, for God's sake. Sober up!"
When we asked Craig Morgan before the shoot how he really did last year, he told us, "I don't know. Blake didn't win. That's all that matters. I beat Blake. That's all I care about. He's an A-hole! No, I love him." You could call Morgan single-minded in his intent. "Oh yeah, we'll put him in his place," the Outdoor Channel host/country star promised. "There is no competition. We're gonna win. As long as Blake don't win, I don't care. He's doing so well at everything else, he'll probably get lucky. He will cheat, though. Blake will cheat."
Morgan wasn't just blowing smoke: He did come out the top celebrity shooter of the day.
So where was Kimberly Perry, we asked her brothers? "She loves to shoot as well," swore Reid Perry. "She comes out with us when we go skeet shooting and she'll pop a few shells." But, said Neal Perry, "She's just not big on getting up early."
The Perrys ended up taking a quick brush-up course in clay shooting before heading out on the competition. They are well familiar in the ways of skeet shooting, but not some of the more challenging things in this pro course. "We hear that sporting clay is a lot different. It's a lot like a real bird flying. It's a lot quicker and they come from all directions."
But even though the Band Perry may not represent the most rugged or redneck side of country, they're not unfamiliar with guns, thanks to their Texan grandparents. "Skeet shooting or shooting clay is the easiest for us because you can go any time of the day, and even if you have just literally an hour, you know you'll hit something," said Reid. "And you have to get up so early to go hunting," added Neil. "We get up early every day when we're on tour, so it's tough on your days off."
- Blake Shelton