So I met this guy in the parking lot

He was a bit older than me, had a “seasoned” look about him. Normally – like never – would I randomly approach someone in a parking lot, but this guy had a killer custom truck shell on the back of his truck and I had to know where he got it.

As I was checking out the shell I noticed several very familiar bags and cases in the trucks bed. The NRA sticker on the bumper could have been a giveaway, but the pistol cases and rifle bags left no question. This guy was a Shooter.

Long story – medium:

It turned out that he was a local business owner and a successful one at that. He explained to me how he used competitive shooting as a way to practice and learn patience and focus. I told him I completely agreed and we got to talking about how shooting helps in life and business.

Bullseye’s Aren’t Free So Start Shooting

Just about anyone can pick up a gun and hit something. If the bullseye is big enough and the person is close enough they’ll be able to hit it.

Like everything else in life targets that are easy to hit aren’t valuable. For this reason we push our targets out further and make them more difficult to hit. It’s only when we challenge ourselves that things start to get interesting and useful.

As the target gets more complex the skill set required to hit does as well. These aren’t things you can just show up and do. As your patience, perseverance and practice continues the herd begins to thin and you become more valuable. Sounds overly “capitalistic” I know, but it’s world we live in and “Gunslingers” still rule it.

I shot like crap but I didn’t care

I had the opportunity to shoot with some of Sure Fire’s national champions, instructors and suppressor inventors a few days ago.  I hadn’t shot a gun in a long while (too long and that’s on me) so I knew I would be slow and I was cool with that, but that’s only because I understand the principle of “One Thousand Falls”.

I’ve had so many opportunities as a SEAL to learn things that when I show up and “suck” at something I don’t worry about it. I know from experience that I will soon become an expert as long as I follow the principle of one thousands falls. This paradigm accounts for at least 80% of any equation for performance.

Too many people try something, suck at it and then walk away. I’m not a natural athlete, I’m not good at sales, I’m not _______. Nobody is “Born to Lead” anymore than anyone one is born to shoot. It’s all about patience, perseverance and a continuous focus on your target.

Shooting is an excellent way to demonstrate your personally ability to become an expert at something. This is important because right now you’re probably planning the rest of your life with the skills you perceive yourself as having rather than the skills you can develop if you choose to.

Slow is smooth – Smooth is fast

If you’ve ever spent anytime training to be a gun fighter you’re probably familiar with the saying “Slow is smooth & smooth is fast”. An excellent principle for shooting, but a life changing principle for life.

When I was at the Sure Fire range I was shooting slowly. It was hard because it was a bit public and there was some competition in the air, but I only shoot as fast as I can shoot effectively. So I stuck to my guns and kept with the principles. I love shooting because there are really no shortcuts or fads. You strap a gun to your waist and simulate a combat situation. There’s nothing left to do but execute sound principles.

In life or business we can get sucked into a relentless pursuit of shortcuts. In a highly competitive world our survival depends on our ability to outperform others and to do that you must learn, practice and master the principles of performance. “Slow is smooth & smooth is fast”.

There are no shortcuts in life and here’s why

We live in a competitive world and that means you are compensated by your performance. The moment a “shortcut” becomes available everyone will start using it and it just becomes “The way”. Once something becomes “The way” everyone else jumps on board and the next thing you know you’re all together again like a herd of cattle. No cow is more valuable than the other so you best find your way out of the herd.

To be valuable means that you must be unique and what’s unique is hard-work. Every other fool is out there chasing the latest way to cheat the system. Few and far between are those who accept that life is going to require discipline, hard work and sacrifice.  Just like becoming skilled at shooting. There’s no way to improve without doing the work.

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Hot Brass Burning Your Skin Teaches Focus

It had to be at least the 250th time in the kill house when my buddy next to me took out a target and simultaneously sent a burning piece of the bullets brass down my neck. The hot brass got pressed in-between my skin and the pressure of my body armor. When you’re in a kill house there are guns, people and live bullets flying all over the place so intense focus is the only option.

I remember the hot casing just searing into my back – incredible pain. This memory has helped me so much in life. So often I’ll find myself in an intense situation when something happens. Something breaks, a bill doesn’t get paid, someone gets sick, someone dies. The “Hot brass” is burning, but when you’re engaging your target there’s no getting distracted. Your life and the lives of your team-mates count on you staying in the game.

Getting out to the range and training for a gunfight simulates the highest stakes game there is, life or death. This is important because only when we’re clear that our life is on the line do we shed all the Bull Shit and focus on the fundamentals.

So I know a lot of the readers here regularly apply all of these principles to shooting, but I hope this post opens up some thinking regarding to life application.

Whether you’re in a “Kill-House” or an office it’s important to develop and maintain the skills required to stay focused and most of all realize that how you shoot today isn’t how you will shoot tomorrow. You’re either going to get better or worse and it’s your choice.

Your Thoughts?

Looking at shooting from this point of view: In what other ways do you see your time on the range relating to life?