Working With Other Shooters

Competitive MarksmanshipOne of my greatest levels of satisfaction in the shooting sports comes from working with others. It is one thing to be really good at your craft. A good performance bolsters one’s self esteem like nothing else. A great performance elicits joy and celebration. I did the Happy Dance right in the middle of the range when I set my first National Record. I did not set out to shoot a perfect score, I set out to shoot perfectly. Serendipitously, both happened simultaneously. But, when someone else wants me to help them, to hear how I do what I do, that, to me, breaks all sound barriers. I think the mark of true excellence shows when I can articulate my craft to another. A friend of mine recently said yet another friend needed some help in the marksmanship department. After some back and forth communication attempts, I got together with my student enjoying one of those rare moments of: “teaching brings so much more to a skill than only practicing.” Imparting information to a novice in such a way that does not boast what you, the teacher knows, but offers applicable techniques to the student’s level creates the best of learning settings. We reviewed safety rules, reciting, “always treat a weapon as if it is loaded,” establishing “down range”, identifying where to rest the trigger finger when holding the gun but not engaging it upon the designated target, etc. We diligently drilled the Basic Fundamentals of Marksmanship: stance, breathing, grip, sight alignment, trigger control and follow through. The questions my student posed let me know listening and learning took place. “Why do my hands shake?”, “Is it ok if my elbows bend?”, “ Why wasn’t I told this before (for just about every topic we covered!)”. Breathing, I explained, balances all the systems of the body so we not only do not shake, but we also maintain a clear visual on the front sight. Holding our breath makes us shake and black out. As we get tired- from exhaustively executing the Basics OR from holding our breaths- we crumple. The bending elbows, the sinking of the head, the shrugging of the shoulders, the grimacing facial features all demonstrate a lack of inhaling and exhaling. Not too magical in the verbalization, but pure magic when employed in the shooting endeavors! We breathe, we readjust ourselves, we shoot well. We talked about watching the front sight through the trigger pull, the recoil of the gun and the floating back down into position. We talked about every single finger of both hands plays a role in gripping the gun successfully. The biggest reward of the day after sending many rounds down range,showed on my student’s face, the satisfied expression of someone who desired to know, who listened and who then achieved competence. No longer skittish or unfamiliar with shooting, my student-now-marksman will be hell to meet with in a dark alley. God forbid someone tries to break in her home.

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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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