The Company You Keep

There is a sort of unofficial theme to the posts this month.  I’ve been talking about non-shooting things you can do in the process of living your life that will help you improve as a shooter.  One of the most effective things you can do that will have possibly the greatest effect without seeming like a lot of work is to give some thought as to who you consider to be your peer group as a shooter.

Human beings are very adaptive.  We tend to assimilate to new environments very well after a relatively brief period of time.  Consider how immersion into a country speaking a different language typically results in a person becoming fluent in that language extremely rapidly.  Also consider how if a people were subjected to incremental restrictions on their freedom, they might not notice what is going on over the screen of their TV.

How does this apply to rifle shooting?  Consider the people you shoot with and consider your peer group of shooters.  Odds are that if you shoot with a group of people, the skill level tends to be somewhat uniform amongst the group, perhaps with a high and low outlier or two.   It’s just one of those traits that most of us are wired to rise to the level of our peers, but not much farther.

One of the nice things about the internet, is that it can bring you together “virtually” with other people that are geographically nowhere near you.  You can be exposed to people of exceptional skill just by wading through thousands of Youtube videos until you actually find something good.  You might not ever meet those people, but how hard would it be to think of that great shooter as a peer, someone just like you, rather than a demi-godlike persona?

If you ever meet a really great shooter, someone like Rob Leatham, I suspect you would find that he is a human, much like you.  You could learn from him, and he could learn from you.  Yes, he is farther down the road of pistol shooting, but he had to travel it from the beginning just the same as the rest of us.  He had a different blend of talent, opportunity, drive, etc., but each one of us has a combination of the same attributes that we can capitalize on to get a little farther down our own road.

If you see that the people that you think of as your peers are doing things to further their shooting, like competing, you will probably begin to take an interest in competing as well.  If you notice that your skills are feeble in comparison, you’ll likely place a higher priority on dry firing and getting to the range.  If you notice that your people make a plan for each range trip, you might start doing that yourself.

This doesn’t mean that you need to abandon your shooting buddies.  I’m talking about a very minor shift in perspective.  When you read about or see a person doing something great, instead of saying to yourself, “That’s amazing!  I could never do that,” you instead see that as a model behavior that you seek to integrate into yourself.  Instead of being in TV mode, which is simply taking in entertainment, you’re in learning mode, actively absorbing and learning what you’re observing.  You will begin to become more like the people you consider to be your peers.

5 thoughts on “The Company You Keep

  1. I’m lucky. My primary shooting buddy is a high master highpower rifle bullseye shooter, and was the state offhand rifle champion some years back.

    Funny thing is, I introduced him to highpower about the time I stopped competing. He took it and ran with it.

  2. My old mentor now has passed on ,but I still remember his words when we first started ,The most important measurement in shooting is the 6″ between your ears and how you use it,think you are saying the same thing

  3. “Everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time” that’s what I try to remember whenever somebody blows my doors off. Persistence and determination are what separate the great from the good shooters.

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