competitive MarksmanshipFrom my first match to my last, competiton evokes excitement, fear, enthusiasm, jittery nerves, spitfire tenacity and, foremost, the drive to do my best. At every competition, the rules and judges and reasons for disqualifications mark the beginning of every event, whether local, state or national levels, whether PPC, IPSC or IDPA matches fired. Knowing the rules sets the stage for strong match performance in conjunction with practicing. Of course, no matter how  much I would practice- timing, cadence, breathing, trigger control, stance, breathing, sight alignment, breathing- I could still manage to screw up at a match. That is the nature of the game. But, when my performance did not meet my expectations, I could always find out why, I could always analyze my scores shot and my targets fired on. Sometimes, even, someone had been watching me and could offer feedback on that level. Taking in all these facets regarding where I placed in a match helped me consider each next practice, each next match. I always wanted to meet and beat my previous performances.  

Sometimes, filled with anxiety and frustration, always doing my best to navigate competitions with grace and aplomb, I have taken all these competitive experiences to a new arena: public speaking. I have mentioned before my involvement in my ToastMasters Club. This past month, I have engaged in club, area and division level competition. I could not resist! But, to my dismay no identifiable rules clarified how the the judges made their decisions. When all was done and said, I placed second this past weekend and have no idea why. I do not know wherein lay my flaws or where I need to improve. I do not know what the first place speaker’s performance held that allowed for first place. So, am I a poor sport for wanting to quit? Am I a whiner? Should I know it is time to take a break and rethink my goals? I think quitting is not a part of who I am. But, sometimes, just sometimes, we need to step back, take a break, BREATHE and reassess our stance. Then, getting back into the competitive arena can, once again, make sense. We compete not to be the best, but to become our own personal best.

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"I worked as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer for over 14 years, in a firearms carrying capacity. First assigned to LAX (1994), then to the Los Angeles/ Long Beach Seaport (1997-2007), I took an early retirement from my final duty station of El Paso, TX (2007-2008). Never having handled firearms prior to this job, I give full credit for my initial shooting lessons and safe firearms handling skills to the government. As I began to compete, I gleaned tips and coaching lessons from the best law enforcement instructors across the nation, turning myself into one of the best, too. I was a firearms instructor in Los Angeles and a national level competitor on a formally sponsored team from 1999 through 2003, being sent all over the nation for pistol match competitions. As a result of this gift of an experience, I went on to set five national records in the law enforcement shooting sports. Check in regularly to read about those and other adventures and misadventures!"
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