30 While 30: Day 124 – Stay on Target …. Stay on target!!

My apologies on my recent absences from the blog.  Time with the family, coupled with some other things going on broke the nice pattern that I had been able to establish.  I am proud to say that as of this morning, we are back on schedule.  Not only that, but to bring me back into regular posts …. I completed a goal!  To the post!

Ah, a classic.  Nobody remembers this poor sap from Star Wars (1977).  Maybe it could have been him that got all the glory and saved the day instead of that silly Skywalker upstart kid.  To do that though, he would have had to stay on target.  You miss the target, and no one remembers you.  (147 Cool Points if you can name the 3 speaking characters in that clip)

I am pleased to announce that today, I am able to mark something else off of my list:

8. Earn my carry permit / take a handgun course.

That’s right folks, I’m legal … well halfway legal, but to tell that part, let me tell you a little about my experience this past Saturday.  Early morning, I headed down to Greenbrier, TN, about one hour from where I live to participate in a handgun safety and proficiency class, designed to make me eligible to attain my conceal/carry permit in the state of TN.  Listening to a few radio stations in the area, and a quick internet search to rebuff what I had heard brought me to Guns and Leather.

For $60.00 plus about $3.50 for 50 rounds of ammunition, I was set to be educated on something, to be honest, I didn’t know much about.  I mean, sure, I had fired a gun before, been next to my dad as he shot birds off our corn, and used at least a bb-gun a few times before, but nothing of this caliber (pun intended).  As the class got underway, it was an odd feeling, to be learning something quite a bit foreign to me.  I mean, I stay in my element most days (counseling, daddy and husband stuff, etc.) so it’s rare that I step out and experience something totally outside of my area of expertise.  Equivalent feelings, I might imagine, would be me in a crocheting class, a scuba class, or learning how to read an EKG.

The first half of the day was in the classroom, learning about the different types and styles of pistols, how different actions work, as well as a plethora of safety.  Not only that, but there was also quite a bit on the basics of aiming and firing the weapon.  We also had lots to hear from a video made by the TN State Troopers all about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body, and how bad of an idea it is to go reaching for your gun to show the officer your permit when he or she pulls you over for a routine traffic stop.  Bad idea indeed.

Once the classroom portion was over, we went downstairs to the indoor range, where, to qualify and pass the class, we had to make 70% of our 48 rounds hit (at 9, 21, and 45 feet) ….. the silhouette.  Not inside the target area, mind you …. 70% of your shots must simply hit the piece of paper outline of a person.  Now let me just say, and no offense to the awesome people that were there (some of which were very interesting), but I felt pretty safe from most of them.  Now, I wouldn’t want to be a bystander when they were firing on a target in self-defense, but if I were that target …. I’d feel pretty safe.  Regardless, I was rather proud of myself.  Here’s my 48 shots:

Not bad at all.  Not bad at all.

From here, if I decide to go all the way and get my permit, I now have 6 months from the class to go down to the DMV (also not a place to take your firearm) pay another $115 (which includes fingerprints and background check) and 90 days after that, I would be totally legal.  I’m not so sure if I’ll take that step yet, but at least I have some time to think about it.

——————

You know, even with this little adventure, I was struck by the “common sense” of some of the aiming and firing philosophies, especially how they relate to other projects around personal improvement.  Here are some of them:

1. You can only focus on one thing at a time.

When firing a pistol, you are encouraged to have proper sight alignment (having the front and rear sights in line and even with each other) and a good sight picture (how that sight alignment matches up with your intended target).  But the thing that struck me the most about this section of the class was the statement that “you can’t focus on more than one thing at once“.  This wasn’t realized until I got on the range.  Sure enough, my eyes had to either choose to focus on the rear sight, the front sight, or the target (correct shooting indicates your focus point should be on the front sight), there was no way to have all three in focus at the same time.

Aren’t we like this?  Well, maybe it’s just me.  How many times do you see on morning television stories about how to “better organize“, “get more done“, or “learn to multi-task more effectively“.  Now, I am all about productivity, but the fact is that we lie to ourselves all the time …. that is, if we hold to the idea that we can do more than one thing at once.  No matter the number of tasks you attempt to complete at once (whether that be 6 for that day, or 30 for a given year), we must recognize and understand that whenever we take aim at an activity, to give it our full focus, attention, and effort.  If we do not, we will not be able to stay on target.

2. Don’t place you finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire.

How many times have you ever rushed into something, unprepared, or without proper focus?  Sometimes, I feel my days are actually just like that.  That sometimes, I simply wake up, and start firing, reacting to whatever comes my way, instead of me happening to the situations around me.  A purposed shooter, and person, is one that knows when it’s time to pull the trigger, and doesn’t place himself in situations to fire when he/she means not to.

3. You are responsible for that bullet and what it does.

In a society where we are taught (at least at times) that it is more prudent (and sometimes financially viable) to blame others for our actions, anyone trained in the use of a firearm knows that you are personally responsible for where that bullet goes, and what it does.  On my book list is the book Question Behind the Question.  Now while a coworker of mine made fun of me for talking about this book as if I had already read it, the fact is that this book is about a paradigm.  A paradigm in which when one looks to blame others, that one is actually looking to themselves on what they did or did not do to impact a situation.  I am responsible for my actions.  I will be the reason whether or not these tasks are completed or not.  Pressure?  Maybe.  It’s also a touch freeing, seeing as not only is the onus of failure on my shoulders, but also the prospect of success.

4. Control your breathing to minimize unintended movements.  But don’t hold your breath too long, or it will cause hand tremors.

Most people fall into two categories.  People that jump in without thinking, and those that think themselves into inaction.  There is a delicate balance between the two.  To be successful, you cannot be too brazen, too foolish to run in and build a barn, without counting the cost … nor can you be so calculated that you are paralyzed by the process of analyzing risk.  The “sweet spot” is the time exactly between, and listen, this is not a defined or explainable situation.  It’s a bit of a mystery that men (and women) have made millions writing books and doing seminars in an attempt to identify this twinkling.  All I can tell you is to work hard not to err too far to each side.  Think before you jump, but don’t be too afraid to take the leap in the end.

I hope you all have a great week!  I will be posting on Wednesday a list of blogs that I have started following (like I needed to give myself something more to read) along with other exciting LIST updates.

Happy Monday!

_Thomas

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