I know it sounds cliche, but there is truth in these words. The key is being organized, committed and most important honest.
I see people all the time come in and out of the range putting holes in paper. What do I see, I see them having a good time. I see them having fun. This is something I have forgotten at times. That my trade, my profession can be fun. It is not without its challenges or setbacks, but I do have a lot of fun. Both as an instructor, student and observer. This point was driven home at my most recent Professional Development session the other day. I had eight drills to assess my current skill level. They are diverse and range from fast and close, to precise and far. The most important consideration for me is do I have any weaknesses. Where are my deficiencies. I know I have them, I just don’t always know what they are or even how to fix them. I’ve talked about it at length, but there are essential skills anyone serious must achieve mastery. These essential skills will not ensure you win your deadly force encounter, they give you the best fighting chance.
I was looking forward to my range session, I like the alone time. I miss training with friends, but sometimes I need to be alone with my thoughts. I was also rushed, putting out fires is a routine I do not enjoy, but a fact of life. When I finally got to the range I was feeling rushed and frazzled. Instead of enjoying my training, it turned into work. It showed in my performance. I will evaluate my skill and asses either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If I get an “unsat” I will then review the specific essential skills, what was I testing. Then, review my past performance. Is this an area prone to problems in the past. If not, then I ask myself was I putting my best effort or just going through the motions. In this session, I was doing a lot of going through the motions. My mind wasn’t fully connected with my actions.
My Own Worse Critic
Now, it is not ideal to have your mind partially engage. However, I can see a silver lining. In the grand scheme of things my performance was still pretty damn good even though I lacked the focus. Sometimes, I can be my worst critic. If I have the opportunity to retest I will if it makes sense. If I feel it was a fluke maybe it is worth doing again to see if there is a different outcome. In this case with three of the eight drills unsat it was me and only me. This meant I would follow up with some remedial training focused on shoring up those shortcomings.
Going Through The Motions
When I made time for remediation I discovered I was in the same mindset. This was work and I was going through the motions. Granted, there is a lot going on the world, my professional and personal life, but I couldn’t focus for some reason. After I finished my remedial session I will retest to see if there was any improvement. There wasn’t. Frustrated, I decided to call it a day. As I was packing up I discovered a loaded magazine. I had just enough ammunition to run through two repetitions of one of the drills and decided why not. This time, I decided to show up and perform. On my first attempt I put in a personal record. I was so close to leaving right then, figuring I would end on a high note. Instead, I ran the last repetition and ended up beating the last PR I had just set. Why? Why all of a sudden did I crush these drills. As I finished packing up I recalled my mindset was totally different. I wouldn’t say I didn’t care, I would say I was having fun.
In the end, this is work is very serious work. I just cannot afford to loose sight on something as important as having fun.