Call me sentimental, or maybe reflective, but I thought this would be a fitting title to a fitting subject for an end-of-the-year article.
As each year comes to a close, we tend to look back, re-evaluate, regroup and then project a new goal, a new vision, for the future. As I was thinking about this, I couldn’t help noticing how perfectly target practice related to and coincided with New Year’s Resolutions. You have a projected target, it’s clear, visible, and seems quite attainable. You set your sights and take aim. And just as it is with resolutions and goals, we don’t always hit the mark. But instead of getting discouraged and giving up, we stop, pause for a moment of reflection and study where, how and when we went wrong. Then we try again.
Without diligence, we admit defeat. We win in the moments when we just can’t do it anymore, when we feel like giving up, and yet we keep going. Just like with athletics or anything else. You don’t win when you’re confronted with an opponent, you win when you pushed ahead back on that dusty range when your hands hurt and you just weren’t hitting the mark. If you put you head down, take a breath, and try again now, you’ll win, later. It’s giving it your all, even when it feels like you’re not going anywhere. It’s the same way with life. It’s those days when you have trouble getting out of bed and doing the next thing, and yet you still do it and give it all you got, that you reach your goals. The successes are built on the backs of the hard times.
Point two, is the target itself. It is important that our targets are well defined so we can know where we are aiming. The best targets I’ve seen are neon colored. They are clear and bold, and most importantly, it’s easy to see where you’ve hit them. This makes them rewarding to practice with because you can see your progress. As we get more surgical in our shooting, they have upgraded targets that have the major organs outlined on them, so an individual can aim for certain points and practice fine tuning her placement. They also let you know what sort of damage you are doing. This also coordinates with making goals in life. Don’t make generalized goals. Set up clear, outlined, and attainable goals that you can knock out on the way to reaching the bulls eye. It is easy to get discouraged when we can’t see the progress in our striving. As time goes by and you begin to accomplish your goals, make bigger, more detailed ones that have greater and greater impacts. It all adds up. Small personal goals, just like plinking at the range, slowly grows to more focused training and goal setting. Gradually work up. The habits we build now, will be what we fall back on in time of need.
Something else to think about is stance. What sort of platform or foundation are we working from? Are we standing firm? This is a little hard to communicate, so bear with me. When you are practicing at a range, you need to have a secure foundation. As you progress through training, and start getting more advanced, you will find that you no longer are shooting from a literal secure platform, but yet, no matter what position you are shooting from, you will be able to make you platform secure. For example: When I started my first tactical class, I was starting with a clean slate. I’d never done any shooting or practicing before. For the first couple hours, I was practicing securing my platform. I was being trained in the habit of having a tight hold on my gun, keeping my balance, being in control of my body and my weapon. As we progressed to shooting on the move, shooting from the ground, etc. I found that since I had started with a secure foundation, and formed it into a habit, I could now take control of my situation, whether I was moving or on my back, or two inches from my target, I could find and literally make, a secure ‘launching pad’ so to speak, for my action. I find that often, we make grand plans for the year, and yet, we seem to loose our balance as we launch into the new year. We aren’t focusing on where we are now, and the steps to get to our goal, in addition to the goal itself. We just run full boar towards the objective and then we aren’t prepared when life hits us upside the head and sends us into a tail spin. Then from one tail spin to another until we wind up at the end of the year, dazed and wondering what happened. Yet we don’t learn from our mistakes and instead launch into the next year, exactly the same. What we need to do is look at the here and now. Settle your differences. Surrender the past to the past. Wipe clean the slate. Don’t drag last year’s baggage into the fresh year. Start from the ground up. I think the hardest thing for me, is to forgive myself for messing up, and then to accept the apologies that I never received from others. This gives you peace to start again. Once these things become a habit, you can apply them ‘on the move’ as you work towards higher goals. Aim small, miss small. Launch from a sturdy platform.
To close, don’t get discouraged by seemingly insignificant goals. Keep your chin up and realize that even the greatest marksmen and women, the most successful people, started at ground level. There is no shame in starting small. Second, prepare for the unexpected. This goes for target practice and life. You can never know exactly what your opponent will do, but you can prepare to beat him(or her) be anticipating the unexpected and being ready to counter it. Life will hit you out of nowhere. Always prepare for the worst case scenario. Stand firm, but be flexible. Don’t forget to carry extra ammo.
May your every bullet hit its mark and may you accomplish your dreams.