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Enjoying Failure

Enjoying Failure

We were talking amongst ourselves at the shotgun class this weekend, and I realized that the difference between the students I have who take advanced classes and the ones who just go to a concealed carry class comes down to how they handle failure at the range.

Shooting stuff is fun, which means that shooting at something and missing it is still fun. After all, the gun went “Bang!” and you got to enjoy the recoil so you’re not that upset if you missed.

But I get upset if I miss, as do many of my students. I have fun at the range, but I also want to get better, and that means setting some minimal acceptable standard of performance for myself, then pushing myself until I surpass that goal.

However, that’s not fun. Rewarding, yes, in the same way that say, jogging or any other physical activity is rewarding. But fun? No way.

No wonder, then, we have the “Beyond The 1%” problem. I’d be willing to bet that 1% of people who bowl join a league, or that 1% of people who ice skate join a hockey team (higher in Canada, of course). Those sports have the same problem: They’re fun when they’re done poorly, but achieving mastery in them takes practice, specialized gear, lots of time and a willingness to embrace failure as a way to learn what you need to improve.

Despite this, people DO play hockey, and bowling isn’t as popular as it was in the early 60’s, it’s still a viable professional sport. Meanwhile, practical shooting barely makes a ripple, and gun owners just don’t want to get better at marksmanship, even though doing so might well save their lives one day.

Which is something you can’t say about hockey or bowling.