Sunday, January 10, 2016

Life, Goals and The Front Sight Metaphor

I thought of this as I was thinking of teaching pistol craft. When I teach someone to shoot a handgun, I start with the grip, the presentation, the sight picture, front sight---press! We dry fire for at least an hour.

I don't start with he draw stroke, because that isn't relevant to the task at hand. One must first learn how the shot actually works. If you find yourself with a pistol in hand, regardless of how it got there, you had better know how to use it!

So, what metaphor? What about the front sight? The front sight is the key to accurate pistol shooting. I teach someone the basics at very close range. We begin with the target just outside arm's reach, say three feet. The reason for this is to teach the student that the simple principles applied at close range get us to our desired goal. It also gets the student accustomed to the pistol's noise (yes, earplugs in!) and recoil. This also helps the student to understand that at close range interpersonal confrontations, he can engage and prevail. That psychological lesson is invaluable.

Grip, presentation, front!

The front sight is the short range goal. We must focus intently on that short-range goal. We apply direct pressure. We don't anticipate when the shot will break, but we know that it will if we just apply steady deliberate pressure on the trigger. When the shot breaks, we are not thinking about shooting. We are thinking only of that short range task of applying direct pressure with FAITH that the shot will break while we are focused on the front sight, with clear vision. The target itself may be a bit out of focus, but that's OK. It MUST be because our eyes cannot focus on three different planes at once. We choose the most important one. We know that the ONLY way to put the shot where we want it, is to apply direct pressure on our short range goal... Front Sight...Press! By doing this again and again we create a tight shot group. It doesn't matter at what range (distance) we are shooting. The principle applies regardless. We repeat the process. We get a tight shot group. The short range goal, applied with direct pressure, gets us to our long range goal, inevitably!

We build confidence. We master the fundamentals. We keep the tasks simple. We Crawl, we Walk, then we Run.  We master the short range, then we move back a bit, just a bit. We move from three feet to five feet. We repeat the process. The principles apply. We practice within out skill set. Once we are comfortable at five feet. We move back just a bit to ten feet. We practice. We apply the principles. We focus on the Front Sight. We shoot a tight group. Our confidence builds.

How long does it take a child to learn to walk? A year usually, give or take a couple of months. He must learn to crawl first. He watches the adults around him. He emulates them and begins to make the attempt. He receives aid and encouragement from his parents. The principles apply, balance, steady platform, one step. Hold onto something or someone for support. Another step. Then two, then in series. At eighteen months the child is walking without thinking about it. He begins to run without being aware he is doing it.

The metaphor then, is this: We set a long range goal, our pistol shooting skill set. We determine the short range goals to get us there, grip, presentation, sight picture, front sight, press. We master the preliminary skills to facilitate our growth, never losing sight of our long range goal, but focusing on the short range. We apply direct pressure. We shoot one shot correctly. Then two. Then three... we have a shot group. Great! Do it again! Success breeds success. Our confidence grows, just as the child learning to walk. Each time we increase the distance we KNOW that the principles, if applied, will get us the result we desire!

As the child begins to run without thinking about it. We engage targets at any distance without thinking about it. We accomplish ANY GOAL, by applying the principles, applying direct pressure, keeping focus on the front sight.

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