Have you ever watched a dog chase their tail. The pure joy of this simple act is meet with a now what once caught.

A Beginners Path

I finished up a staff Pistol class recently and a major tenant I was sharing was how sustainment is the key. Avoid the pitfalls typically found in chasing a specific outcome. I ask a question in my classes that centers around goals. What are your goals for attending class? I’m interested in the responses and sometimes I get a response that is very specific. I think it is great and I’m the first to encourage the student towards achieving the goal. Chances are they will not meet the goal in a single class. They will need to spend their time, treasure and talent towards achieving this goal. As a beginner this is a good thing.

Now What?

The problem is what do you do once you have reached said goal. Like the dog catching its own tail you are left with the universe responding back “now what?” The idea behind training can be interpreted very differently from one field to another. In our field the aspect of training is the act of teaching someone a particular skill or type of behavior. It is generally accepted this skill or behavior has conditions and standards. These standards allow us to track our progress. Many beginner students don’t have much to go on other than a predefined standard. Once meet they lack the understanding to see the next goal or they make a similar goal without realizing how many other areas they could be directing their attention.

Range Theatrics

The other problem and this is the big one for me is when we see unrealistic goals being made. An example might be the drawstroke speed. The idea behind having a super fast draw often gets the limelight for beginner students. It is not a bad goal, but you have to be realistic. If you expend countless hours, ammunition and time trying to achieve a goal that in order to maintain over the longer period will cost you even more. There is a point of diminishing returns many students don’t realize exist until they fall into the perpetual cycle of “keeping up with the Jones”. Range theatrics are not to be emulated. Let me repeat that statement, don’t try to make something that is exclusive to the range your sole mission.

Planned Versus Unplanned

This brings up the questions of how good is good enough. I define good enough as having reached a plateau that I can sustain with minimal action on my part, but that will also take into consideration the realities of life. For instance, using the drawstroke example from before. The biggest problem with most are how unrealistic they are from the beginning. Of course, you don’t see the countless attempts to achieve that one perfect repetition good enough for social media. The real problem is the difference between a planned event and an unplanned event. Every practice or training session will have planned events, so you as the student already know it is coming. Many don’t realize how huge of an advantage this is when considering deadly force. You have already determined to draw and fire before justification could be present. Not a good habit to practice. Then there is the reality you may not be in the best position. What if you are sitting, standing with your back to the target or even worse on your back. Then there are the other possibilities we need to consider such as being sick, tired or injured.

Preparing For The Unknown

Instead, your principle goal should be something you can sustain over the long haul. Something that doesn’t require as much maintenance, but also is adaptable to the various realities of life. Something that your current sustainment training allows you the space to take on new goals without allowing others to atrophy. This to me is the key. You have focused so much energy into a single goal where you overlook the fact there are dozes if not more still waiting for your attention. If you could maintain 80% across the board you will find your time, talent and treasure going to a broader set of skills; which will ultimately improve your overall response to the one thing we often forget. We are preparing for the unknown.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking once you have accomplished a goal things will get easy. The easy part is over, the hard part is just beginning.

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Trident Concepts
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