Have you ever had that feeling? You know, the one where that smile on your face is immoveable, you're stepping a little more lightly and inside you feel content...That top of the world feeling. I know I've certainly felt it at times; It's a great feeling which puts hard work and effort into perspective and can springboard one to even greater achievements moving forward. Well, I'm not feeling it at the moment, but someone is and I'm very pleased he is!
Today was the final event for the year of a practical shooting competition I run with a small group of others. It's an extremely popular event attracting a hundred or so competitors each time we stage it and is open to people of all ages, both genders and of varying shooting experience - It's a fun event, but one taken quite seriously by most competitors. For that reason achieving a great result can be challenging.
This is the end of the second year and we've run a total of nine events. Naturally we see many of the same faces each time which is great - It allows us to see how people progress over time.
So, top-of-the-world-guy from today is an older guy who has competed at every event along with his two sons. I'm not sure how old he is, but at a guess I'd say at least sixty eight years old or more. Our event requires competitors to run and gun, move to and from various shooting positions, through, over and under obstacles and travel up to 100 metres or so during a course of fire. We usually run around 7-9 stages at each event and by the end of the day competitors feel like they've done a workout usually. Add to that the strategy and mental aspect of it...Needless to say we make them work for it - There's no free rides, and the good shooters, those who place well at the end of each event, earn it.
As an experienced practical handgun and long-range practical/tactical rifle shooter I always try and help where I can. This is especially the case with those who come along with little, or no, experience in this form of shooting. I try to pass on what I know, the tricks I have learned and employ in my own shooting when I compete across the country myself. They seem to take it on board and it feels rewarding to see my pointers improve the competitors results. This has been the case with top-of-the-world-guy - And his two sons as well really.
I've upgraded top-of-the-world-guy to that status from his previous if-it-could-go-wrong-it-would-guy as he brought it all together today and ran a damned good event.
I recall when he first fronted up a couple years ago...No idea! He'd plug away in his bumbling fashion starting stages without dialling the magnification on his scope up or down to suit the range, not adjusting his parallax, forget his shooting bag and other bits and pieces when starting stages, not deploy his bi-pod, or deploy it on stages when it was best not to. He'd not present freshly loaded magazines to himself in a manner he could effect fast magazine changes, not size up obstacles and barricades correctly, use odd shooting positions when there was a better way, start shooting targets in an inefficient manner and process, fail to strategise correctly on stages, allow mistakes to remove focus...I could go on and on. He would even sweep his muzzle in front of people which means point the muzzle at them as he was moving about - Something you just don't do with guns unless you're planning to shoot that person. I disqualified him at one event for that transgression. In short, he was terrible.
I made it my mission to help him, and by default his two sons. I'd spend lunch breaks at the events going over things with him addressing each thing he did wrong by giving him a better way. I would also spend time after the event to do so and he'd take it all in, practice it and apply it at the next event. To his credit he'd always do exactly what I'd told him. He even said one day, "if it works for you then I might as well do it that way." Of course, he began to apply some of his own flair later on as well.
Each event he would do a little better: More accurate, better strategy, more efficient in his movements, better set-up equipment...Each little thing improving his place in the standings bit by bit.
Then he turns up today...Same grizzled look, sort of like a bear. Same gun. Same home-made shit that he always runs like shooting bags and other hacked-together crap - I think money is an issue for him...Same everything, right down to his affable and friendly nature.
Different result though.
You see, he's finally brought it all together. He thinks differently. He acts differently, and he performs differently.
Today top-of-the-world-guy shot very well finishing third in his division, the most hotly-contested division in our event. He shoots in the open division which means those competitors can effect any modification to their rifles they like. It's where the glory-seekers want to shoot, the elite. Top-of-the-world-guy shoots in that division simply because the gun he runs is not bolt-action and he has no choice - It's the rules. His gun cost him $600 plus the scope at $400 and the bipod at $50: $1050. He competes against guns that cost their owners $7,000-$10,000!
If-it-could-go-wrong-it-would-guy emerged from his cocoon a transformed man to become top-of-the-world-guy today and it was so cool watching him walk around with such satisfaction. Sure, he only came third, but from finishing dead-last at every event to placing third is an impressive feat, especially considering who he had to beat to get there.
The coolest thing was that he was so humble and grateful. He came up to me and thanked me and said he couldn't have done it without me - I just said, "yeah, you would have got there eventually - I didn't pull the trigger and run the event, you did." He grinned at that and winked. He was just so happy to have placed well.
I'm glad this was the last event for the year - The organising group is tired. We have our own shooting events and disciplines to compete in and a myriad of other commitments so a break will be nice. I'm also pleased top-of-the-world-guy will go into the break feeling that the hard work and effort he put in has been rewarded. He'll be back next year looking to climb up the standings all over again, and I'll be there helping him, and others, do just that. It's rewarding.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default
Image: My RPR 6.5mm Creedmoor and 1918 Lee Enfield .303 SMLE.