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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Anyone Can Be A Good Shot

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

Learning to fire a weapon accurately is, to me, relatively easy (assuming nothing physically or mentally wrong).

I learned to be a pretty good shot with an M-16 rifle, but there was already something there (the first bullet I ever fired hit the target, a beer can, after two other shooters had fired 49 shots at it from the same point and missed). I was aware that I had a lot to learn, and never assumed that I already knew how to shoot.

So when people (sergeants) in the business of teaching me how to do so started talking to me, I listened. I, in fact, did all I could to make sure I got "individual instruction", literally a sergeant sitting right next to me watching every motion I made and correcting me right then and there. The result was that I shot expert the first time I qualified after my commissioning. This despite my weapon having malfunctioned once while I was on the range and having to be cleared. In subsequent qualifications I maintained the expert status.

I have not been shooting in a long while (barring the recent pseudo-shooting in "Terrorwerks"). And I am aware that my odds of doing well in long range shooting are not good due to the damage I have since done to my right elbow.

But in the relatively close range shooting in "Terrorwerks", with shot moving so slowly that you could watch each one leave the barrel and travel to its destination, I could see that the old training was still there. The fingertip of my right index finger settles on the trigger without my having to think about it, and I raise the weapon to my eye without having to think about it, and I squeeze the trigger while simultaneously catching my breath without having to think about it.

All of that is important not just because it makes the shots as accurate as possible, but because it frees my mind to think about other things. (Like how many enemies are there? Where are they positioned? What are they doing? What should I do? And a host of other thoughts in the midst of a"fire fight").

One of the things in life that makes me happy is that I managed to teach one other person to shoot. That person being SVC. I know I only succeeded because he finally decided, late in life, that maybe he was wrong, that he was not just naturally a bad shot, maybe he "just needed to listen". Even today, as he was using an airsoft rifle to hit a target, he said he could hear his "father's voice", i.e., that he could remember when his father had tried to teach a teenage SVC to shoot, and failed because SVC was not ready "to listen". I succeeded because of what he had been taught before, and remembered, and was now ready to apply if only someone who "seemed to know what he was doing" (and SVC drew that from two things, that I hit the target, and that in a casual moment the Infantry Officer in me had looked at him shooting and told him that he was not going to hit the target because he had too much finger on the trigger). After first issuing that age old mental block, i.e., telling me that he could not hit the target because he was just naturally a bad shot, he watched me raise my weapon and fire at the target, and finally asked, in essence, what he should do.

SVC shot expert several times in the state guard, and for a time marveled at his own ability to relatively effortlessly place the bullet in the target where he wanted it.

He shoots well because he had good teachers (and again, I only built on what others had taught him, he knew how he should be shooting, he just did not believe it mattered because he believed he was inherently a bad shot), and because when I got to start teaching him, he was ready to listen and not accept his previous image that he was simply a bad shot.