Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Lesson at the Shooting Range

There are certain experiences which if optimally exploited can evoke evolutionary changes in our lives. While some may push us into a zone of introspection, others may serve as self-edifying instructions. Certain others retain the humbling effect of having discovered the obvious by chance, after having laboured unsuccessfully for long.


I was on an official tour duty when I was informed of a competition being held to look out for talented shooters with the "10m air rifle" (an olympic event). Something prompted me to sign up. On the eve of the match all competitors reached the indoor shooting range where a coach showed us the rifles we would shoot with and gave us a detailed briefing about how to go about if one wished to do well. I was seeing these pneumatic rifles for the first time wherein one needed to manually compress the air in the cylinder before loading each pellet. I got a jolt on seeing the the target, which was of the size of a mini-postcard, the bulls eye (full scoring area) being of the size of a well sharpened pencil tip. After rehaearsing for a while the instructions received and after a few shots as practice, I got a hang of what the event would be like.

I was not much psyched up on the d-day ...."nothing much to loose anyway" was the frame of mind I was in. We were to shoot 40 pellets in an hour and a half. Even though we were allowed to see and analyse the target after each shot, I didn't think much of it and finished off without much thought about the results. To my surprise I did reasonably well and ended up with a bronze medal.



After a couple of months I was called up again for basic training in the event. All shooters now were of good standing .... the training was systematic ...... and to my surprise the check list before firing each shot was perhaps longer than that of a fighter pilot. From the tension level of each mucsle to the amount of air in the lungs ..... one needed to keep everything in mind while shooting. After a few days of reasonable progress my scores plummetted down to the bottom almost inexplicably and with it my self-confidence. I struggled on for weeks .... trying to do everything correctly .... but the pellets refused to reach that small dot in the middle. The seeds of self-doubt had sprouted and threatened to grow fast into a full grown plant. I was sliding into depression.

On the advice of a friend I kept off shooting for a while. During the break I analysed my shooting technique ..... I had learnt much after that competition but the scores refused to improve ..why? It was when I was travelling back in a bus from my uncle's house in mumbai that the answer struck ...... the difference was the "thought" in my mind at the micro-second when the trigger was pressed .... or rather when the pellet left the rifle. I remembered that in the first competition that I took part, I was never worried about the result and therefore concentrated completely on the procedure. Now, because of my anxiosness to hit the bull, my mind followed by the eyes reached the target before the pellet did ..... consequently the allignment of the sights got disturbed as the pellet left the rifle.......

I rushed back to the range .... while analysing the shots now, I realised that whenever my mind was in a thoughtless state as the trigger was pressed the shot never missed the bull ..... whenever the mind wandered, the shot got off the mark and when the focus was on the target it went further off the mark .....


On deeper thought one realises that this aspect is apllicable to all facets of life ... the anxiousness to hit the bull is nothing, but an offshoot of the fear of failure. Bekham would never have been able to bend it into the goal if he had been looking at the post instead of the ball as he kicked it .......... we wouldn't have been able to witness those glorious straight drives if Sachin had been looking at the boundary instead of the ball as he hits it ...........(did I carry it too far ?)

I didn't make much headway in shooting. However the lesson learnt keeps me in good stead in all my endeavours ........ as I concentrate on the process .. .and try to be indifferet to the results.

13 comments:

Nanditha Prabhu said...

a real good post that shows you what it is to live the moment!
it was inspiring to read your real life experience with shooting!
it reminds me of an episode in mahabharata where the pandava and kaurava brothers are taught to shoot the arrow, the target being a dummy parrot's eye. each brother is asked , by their guru , what he sees on aiming at the target , and they go on to describe the tree and the leaves and the parrot. But arjuna is able to see nothing but the eye of the parrot.And only arjuna is allowed to proceed with the shooting.(was the comment too long?)....I think life has lots to teach us , only thing we should be ready for it!.. it is great that you have learnt a most important lesson through your shooting!

sudha said...

very inspiring, really great to read your experience....

Prasanth said...

Excellent write up. So many times our anxieties and fears obstruct what we want to achieve - I firmly believe that it is the "process" that counts - and the end result will take care of itself. I work on complex projects which involves a huge number of variables/scenarios – and if I stop to think about what can go wrong – or how I will manage the project – I make no headway. Instead, I just go through the "process" and tackle the tasks one by one without bothering about "what will go wrong" or "will I be able to accomplish all this in such a short period of time" etc and in the end, results turn out all right. Perhaps this is what Krishna meant when he told Arjuna "Karmanye vadika raste ma phaleshu kadachana"

harimohan said...

bhagvad geetha tells just that

MyVision said...

Excellent post vinnu... everyone knows the essence of what you have written... but hardly anybody practices... The karma yoga of Bhagavat Gita says just what you have concluded... But people read Gita for credits such as telling / showing others that they know the whole Gita by heart, or reading it n number of times within specific duration to demonstrate devotion etc.. But how many of them really understand and practice in life.. I would say very very less...

I would say more people practice these things in 'letter' and not in 'spirit'... and in my opinion practicing in 'spirit' would make a lot of difference to them., practicing just in 'letter' would put people into more difficulties... Happy to note that you have realized it and intent to practice... 'focus on what you do' rather than keeping on worrying about repercussions and results...

I really loved reading this post... keep writing...

Subramanian said...

Nice blog ..enjoyed reading it!

Nisha said...

i loved this concept, something that i learned frm my parents too, 'phalam ichikkadae karmam cheyyuka', also I liked the language that you have described it, the first para especially.

Vidya said...

This is such an important life lesson. And have you noticed that we tend to remember such lessons for ever. I prefer such lessons as opposed to ones that are preached to us!

Great job with the post! :D

dharmabum said...

now thats an insightful post. lots of people interpret the verse from the gita as 'doing our actions without expecting the fruit of it'...sometimes, i am forced to disagree. for most people, the fruit is the only motivation towards any action. what we fail to understand however, is that the fruit(result) is affected by a combination of factors, some known, others unknown. we only look at one factor - us, and start fretting as to why we did not get the desired result. when we realise that the result is a result or myriad factors, only one of which is our effort, we stop worrying and stop performing.

Prashant said...

Hey, wat i am supposed to do with that blogrolling. Please help

Smiles :)

Naveen said...

thanx for sharing ... nandukka, sudha, mamu, mr harimohan, subra, nisha and vidya ......

prashanth ...nothing , lve the bloggrolling to me ... u continue with your good work .....

david santos said...

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