Learning from all of my life experiences is a big philosophy of mine. Even in those uncomfortable situations, something can be gleaned about myself and the world around me. The question always is, am I willing to look?
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to be taught about pistols--how they work, the various models, and how to shoot them. As an eager student, I listened to my teacher, and friend, Jack closely. I asked pertinent questions. Knowing that guns are not toys, I wanted to make sure safety and responsibility in how to use them was solidified in my mind.
The real interesting part of the day came when we actually went to the shooting range on the north end of town. I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach, as I felt entirely out of my element.
Growing up on the beaches of southern California rarely led to the interaction with firearms, much less the usage of them. I'd shot a handgun once with a college boyfriend, and I'd shot a BB gun a handful of times at the lake.
But now, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was indoors waiting to get access to a shooting lane. My nerves ratcheted higher with each passing minute we had to wait. On the outside I looked calm, but on the inside I was uneasy.
Finally, after a 30-minute eternity, it was our turn. I put on my protective head and eye gear, followed Jack from the viewing room into the range.
Immediately, the smell of gun smoke filled my nostrils and my ears were bombarded with blasts from a 45 being shot by a gentleman in the lane next next to ours. Subconsciously, my body started to shake even a little, despite the fact it was 75 degrees outdoors.
Jack methodically pulled out the two pistols I was learning to shoot, along with the ammo. He used the lever on the left side of our stall to bring the target backdrop closer to us, and he fastened a new cream-colored target upon it.
With great care, Jack showed me how to stand, how to breathe, how to properly hold the gun, how to aim, and how to fire.
The first shot sent a shock wave through my system. My eyes immediately filled with tears, although I would stubbornly not let one drop down my cheek. I just went from being out of my element to being on an entirely different planet!
Jack's kind words and clear instructions urged me to keep trying. He slightly modified my stance, guided me in simple ways to keep from flinching or swaying from my target. By round 15, I hooked. My groupings were already getting tighter, and my fear shifted into more and more confidence with each shot I fired. I only stopped by round 40 or 50 because Steve (who was in the wings watching the entire event) was hungry. Well, that, and my shoulders were already started to burn from holding them up for so long.
The reason I share this story with you is that many of the lessons I learned in how to shoot a pistol reminded me so much about how I can best live my life to stay on target. Here are just a few:
- Have a forward stance. In holding a pistol, I learned to slightly lean forward to account for any recoil. Not only was this a confident stance, it reminded me of one that is proactive. In this case, I was ready to fire. In life, it is one that reflects the internal readiness to meet the day, and the interactions we will have in it. It also reminded me that reaching the goals I have for myself involves an ongoing participation--a forward stance--to develop the vibration, skill set, relationships, and experience necessary to reach those goals.
- Have a steady trigger pull so that you are surprised when the gun actually fires. I learned that by evenly pulling the trigger, I am steady when the gun actually fires. This prevents flinching and missing the target. In life, this is mirrored by the fact that when we continually put ourselves in the vicinity of what we want, we are unwavering when our goal actually arrives. Day in, and day out, I work to cultivate habits and attitudes that support my bigger life goals. I slowly and methodically step in the direction of my dreams. Then, when the actualization of those dreams manifests, I'm in a ready position to embrace them.
- Be strong and relaxed at the same time. It was amazing how my hands had to hold firmly to the gun to keep my aim on target, but at the same time I had to relax my trigger finger (and only use the very end of my right forefinger to actually pull the trigger). When I loosened the grip on the gun (and relaxed too much), I missed my target. When I gripped too tightly, I also missed. In life, it's so important to be strong in character--and consistently steady in moving forward. However, holding on too tightly to how any relationship, or event, will unfold just makes the entire journey too stressful (and can often lead to an unwanted outcome). Slow and steady... strong and relaxed... finding that balance of opposites is the name of the game!
- Stay focused on the eye sight--looking at the target. It is easy, especially when learning something new, to focus on all of the different moving parts to make that new skill possible. Whether it is learning to speak a new language, play a instrument, or gain any kind of skill or habit, more attention is involved. However, just by focusing down the sight of the gun, I was able to let my trigger finger do its thing without distraction. I could keep my aim on where I really wanted to hit, instead of thinking or being afraid in the process. I was clearly reminded--keep my aim on the targets of my life goals, and the other steps will perfectly fall into place at the right time.
So, whether you are going to be firing a pistol or not, these basic concepts can allow you to hit the mark in your life--whatever the target might be--and be confident in doing so!