Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First Competition

Challenge #1: FIREARMS

OK, so some of you may be thinking - Pleeeease. Firearms? Like that is a big stretch, right? I love Martial Arts, weapons, hunting, etc. Yes, true. But, let me tell you the story...

Women tend to be "taught" firearm skills from folks in their environment. It is painful to even type, however, the truth is that most girls or women learn this skill from a male in their environment. (Not all - so don't get all fired up if that isn't you) Now, there is nothing wrong with that. My daddy taught me about guns when I was little. I shot through the years, I even went through a few training courses...sort of. ( Very casual "let's go to the range" kind of things)

In 2007, I applied for my CCW here in Ohio. (Sidenote: Everyone should!!) I passed the course, completing my 'Qualifying" shots at close range to demonstrate that I could hit something directly in front of me that isn't moving, thinking of moving, or will ever move. None the less, I was handed my wonderful CCW permit and off I went - completely ignorant of the fact that I had no ability to utilize the weapon I owned while under any type of real "stress". Actually, maybe I did know that. After all, I hadn't shot in years (like 25), yet, now I was fully certified to carry this weapon "legally". They wouldn't have given me the certificate if I wasn't qualified, right? So, for two years I carried that gun with me everywhere that it was legal to do so. I was confident and prepared. So I thought.

Fast Forward 2009: I was at a training course for executive protection. One of the trainers asked me if I was qualified to carry a weapon. I said yes. I did have that certificate, right? It was an honest answer. Well, apparently honesty wasn't enough. Apparently my skills weren't enough. HIS brutal honesty was painful. In his words, "I had no idea how to handle a gun, I shouldn't be in the class, I was going to get someone killed...and on and on." It stung. Now, granted, his approach could have been better. In a moment like that, however, it was important for me to take responsibility. The problem was...I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't consciously make an attempt to portray myself as something more than I was. I simply didn't know. So, After feeling humiliated, I decided that I would never be in that position again. If I was going to carry a weapon, I would take as long as needed to learn how to handle it properly, effectively and efficiently.

I began to ask those "in the know" about classes. I didn't want to end up at the range with someone showing me a "few things". I already did that, and, ahhh, it didn't work. I wanted to TRAIN in a formal class. A name of a popular course continued to come up in conversations with foks that I trusted. The course was long (3 complete days), expensive (well, compared to the "free" advice I had been receiving) and it seemed intimidating. It was only taught locally about once per year and was taught by a renowned instructor who had a reputation for being a hard on his students. Perfect. After registering for it, I had flashbacks to being humiliated. I even tried to back out of the course ( which took me a year to get into) because I was so nervous that I would look ridiculous in front of the experienced shooters.

Finally, I took a dual course with the Company, "ICE Training". The first day was "Advanced Pistol Handling" (APH) and the second/third day was 'Combat Focus Shooting" (CFS). The class was hard, long, and exhausting. AND it was the BEST thing I could have ever done. The amount of information was staggering. The instructor didn't cut anyone a break; expected everyone to be focused; and ordered pepople to stay on task. His approach was one of "do it". We didn't spend an enormous amount of time "discussing" was a hands on class. Drills, more drills, explaining drills, running drills. At the end of the course, though, I didn't need to go ask one of my "buddies" anything about my gun, my shooting ability, or the range. I knew. That was an amazing feeling. That was a true feeling of empowerment.

Now, am I this highly qualified shooter now? Ahhhh, NO! Not even close. I am what I would call a 'Serious Beginner" . I understand the basics, I understand the theory, however, I need far more time on the trigger to turn those concepts into habits. Given a second of stress, I tend to fall back to my original bad habits. I am working on that.

So, why share all of this?

Well, I am going to post pictures and video of my progress...good, bad, and ugly. If nothing else, I want other women to see that while it is hard work, it is FUN and rewarding! I have only had one formal class, and a few coaching lessons thereafter so my progress is slow. I want to keep it real though. Beyond the skill of being able to run a weapon, there is the added bonus of taking action to keep myself, and my family, safe.

Enjoy the posts! Please feel free to comment. Well, unless you are going to tell me that I suck. In that case, keep your comments to yourself.

What are you Learning?

I have always been a huge believer in progression. Even as a child, I would spend enormous amounts of time trying to get "better" at a skill. It seemed like the natural thing to do. My seven year old brain could not understand why anyone would settle for just being "OK" at something when the option was there to be great? So, I set off on my life goal of being "great" at a skill. Martial Arts became my calling. 32 years later, I would like to think that I have utilized my time properly and have achieved, to a large degree, a fair level of high quality Martial Art skill.

The most important aspect of training that I have learned over the past 32 years is that of consistent improvement. Martial Art training is a given. I have dedicated my life to it. If I am not training in THAT arena of my life, I should consider a career change (lazy martial artists, please take that last comment to heart. Seriously) What about other areas? Other interests? Endeavors? What about becoming a "white belt" in other areas of your life? That is what this blog is about.

I will share my experiences with everyone as I take on new challenges. The challenge of the beginner. The challenge of looking ridiculous. The challenge of doing things wrong in an effort to learn to do them right. The challenge of being brave.

MY challenge to ANYONE who reads this blog is simple: Find something that you know nothing about...and throw yourself into acquiring the knowledge.

If Martial Arts teaches us nothing else (which it does - but work with me here), it teaches that taking the first step, that of a beginner, is the most important step of all. The world is filled with folks who sit on their heels. I am not one of those folks. Join me.....