A lot of things all happening at the same time inspired this blog. I got a call from my Mom suggesting I should give some words of advice / encouragement to my Nephew. My Nephew is the captain of his high school’s trap shooting team. My Nephew is a fantastic shot. He has been hunting and trap shooting with his dad, and tactical shooting with me since he was big enough to hold a gun. My Mom wanted me to talk to him because apparently pressure is getting to him and he is not performing to his ability.
I received this call right before I left for SWAT week. SWAT week is 40 hours of training provided for and by my SWAT team. A great time! During SWAT week I saw Operators exceed their previous level of ability, and I saw others shy away from the challenge.
So, my advice to my Nephew and my thoughts after SWAT week bounced around in my brain until this blog came out.
The reason we go to
for SWAT week is to get away from everything else and just focus on
training. That, and a military base has
facilities we don’t have access to in the Metro. Camp Ripley
Some of these things include:
- State of the art simulated cities for scenario work
- 360’ live fire shoot house
- Confidence / Obstacle course
- 900 yard popper range
Completing every obstacle in the confidence course was hard, but totally worth it. Staring up at 60 yard cargo net vertical climb is scary. You come to the realization that if you fuck up you could die or end your career. Being scared is part of the confidence course. Bravery isn’t not being scared. Bravery is being scared shitless and still doing what needs to be done. The rush of not dying and looking back at the scary obstacle while you give it the bird builds confidence. Cheering for your teammates to do the same and celebrating their victories builds a team.
This obstacle sucks balls
I didn’t do it by military regs but I got my fat ass over this obstacle
The 900 yard popper range was awesome. The best way for me to describe it is a massive field filled with green blob enemies. They used to have red stars on them but after we became “friends” with the
the stars were removed. So imagine a
huge pasture full of zombies at different distances from 100 – 836 yards coming
at you. When you shoot them they drop –
then pop back up, hence the name.
The other Snipers enjoy riding me because they have shot at 1000 yards and I have not. So I was happy for the opportunity to shot out to at least 836 yards. That was awesome. I also was hitting consistently at 500 + yards with my entry rifle and 200 yards with my hand gun.
After all this I needed plastic surgery to get the smile off my face. I grabbed my entry riffle and decided to play a game I dubbed “god of war”. I was going to kill every zombie I could see unassisted. Once I locked eyes on a target I would go from “sul” (muzzle pointed down) take the safety off as I brought the riffle up and squeeze the trigger as soon as the dot crossed the target. I killed every thing I saw. 1 shot 1 kill, or I played with the pop up so every time it popped back into my sight I dropped it again.
That builds confidence.
So - Big fucking deal, is this blog just me bragging? Well a little bit, but I needed to brag for the next part to have credence.
Kihon Dosa (Basic Exercises)
What ever it is that you do, find the most basic fundamental skills that makes what ever it is that you do work.
TRAIN THOSE FUNDAMENTALS EVERYDAY!!!!
Training the fundamentals everyday builds competence.
Competence is the foundation of confidence.
PUSH YOUR LIMITS
Competence proven under hard circumstances equals confidence.
Confidence reduces distractions, and negative emotions that deter performance.
When / if you feel anxious drill and drill the fundamentals. The practice will make you better. Doing everything you can to be better relieves stress which also helps you to perform better.
If you don’t have solidly ingrained neural pathways of correct fundamentals you will fail under pressure.
The fundamentals of marksmanship are the same regardless of the distance. If you flinch / anticipate 3 yards, you won’t be able to hit shit at 25yards.
If you can’t hit at 25 yards you’ll never be able to amaze yourself at 200 yards.
We have all heard the phrase you are what you eat.
More accurately you are what you regularly eat and you are what you regularly do. Eating one piece of cake on your birthday won’t make you a fat ass any more that eating clean on the day after your New Year’s resolution will make you lean. But if you eat clean on a regular basis you will become leaner. If you do your fundamentals on a regular basis you will become proficient. You will own those skills.
So hit those fundamentals, dry fire drills daily, remove your flinch. Then hit consistently at 25 yards. Then push your limits
After 200 yards coming back to 25 is cake.
How do you push your limits?
Surround yourself with good people. People that will push you. People who will call you on your bullshit. People who will not accept mediocrity. People that will never allow you to rest on your laurels.
Earn your place among them
These are guys I would gladly kill and/or die for (and the guy who took the picture).
That is us on top of the 60 yard scary as hell climb of death. Because we kicked the course's ass. I don’t know if any of us would have made it if the others didn't push each other through. I would have rather died than then been the only guy in that group that didn't make it through the confidence course.
Far better to try a pressure test and fail than to hide in fear of the test.
Try hard, fail boldly! Find out what needs work and drill those fundamentals. Try again and kick that challenge’s ass. Pressure tests / stress tests may result in embarrassment, but that embarrassment can lead to growth. Hiding from a challenge will protect you from embarrassment, but it will also lead to stagnation and atrophy.
- Surround yourself with good people
- Push yourself / stress test
- Competence builds confidence
- Confidence defends against negatives that erode performance
I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. If you have taken the time to read this blog, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to you. But on the off chance anyone who needs to read this is still reading here is some advice.
There will be those who are tempted to hide from the challenge. Instead of surrounding themselves with good people and earning their respect – a place at the table if you will. They will resent those good people and project their negativity onto them
Winners come together and find a way to win. Losers gather in small groups and blame others for their failures.
They tell themselves there is nothing wrong with them. The guy that is ridding them to push them further is just an asshole picking on them.
Again I doubt anyone reading this is like that, but I bet you have had to deal with people that were.
So to them I say this. For every hour of training you receive some asshole that picks on you has put in at least one hour on the lesson plan. Probably another hour or two on logistics. Getting a training area. Getting all the equipment and personnel to the training area. Yet another hour with pre-training paper work. I bet they got there first to set up for you and stayed there last to clean up after you so let’s add an hour for that. And probably an hour with after training POST paper work.
For every hour you work to improve yourself, some asshole that picks on you has put in four hours to make you better
So when you feel like saying something to that asshole maybe start with, end with, and maybe only say... Thank you.
Train hard, Train smart, Be safe