Monday, June 14, 2010

Marksmanship and Life 1 - B.R.A.S.S.

It is my experience that one can draw life lessons from almost any field of study, especially when that field involves observable physical effects.  Learning to fire a rifle taught me a number of things that I try to apply to my daily life.  FWIW, I was never a particularly good shot, the martial arts were just not something I could become passionate about - this probably explains my indifference towards professional rasslin.

Breathe, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze, this is what I was taught in boot camp as the way to situate myself when firing a rifle.  The Barrel of an M-16 is about 24 inches long, and that is all the real control you wield over the path the bullet travels.  Being able to successfully direct a 5.56 millimeter piece of metal 500 meters to reach a specific and relatively small target is a really difficult thing to do.  It requires the proper frame of being, the proper aim, the release of effort, and the faith that the effort will reach it's intended destination.  It's a lot like achieving any worthwhile goal in life.

Breath (prana) control is critical to marksmanship because the act of breathing causes the body to move.  Proper breath control will lead to the weapon being fired at the moment of least movement - the pause between breaths when the muscles are at their most relaxed and the weapon's sights are settled at their natural point of aim.

Relax - tension is an enemy of control, and proper aiming requires a calm and relaxed marksman.  One should pause and clear the mind to allow it to focus.

Aim - The human eye can focus clearly on only one object at a time.  Similarly the human mind can only focus on one task at a time.  Even the most powerful computer processor (which we understand much better than the human mind) can only do one task at a time (though it is capable of quickly switching between tasks to present us with the illusion of multi-tasking.)  Proper aim is the most difficult step and my next two posts are devoted to further exploration of this.

Stop - After aiming, one should pause and let ensure that the execution of will (i.e. the shot to be fired) will be directed by the aim, and not by one's ego.

Squeeze - Slowly squeeze the trigger without anticipating the shot.  Anticipation will cause the shot to move up and to one side or the other as your body will naturally brace for the recoil.  One should be surprised by the shot going off.  Similarly in life, if one attends to the tasks at hand without constantly being concerned about the eventual payoff, then one will surely reach the goal aimed at.  Of course this presupposes the one has aimed oneself properly, and taken windage (the actions of other actors) and trajectory (the forces of the natural world) into account.

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