Before Kansas gives you a license to carry concealed weapons, they want to make sure you can shoot with at least a bit of accuracy. And that’s how I ended up in the tailwater pit on a nearby farm last Saturday with about 30 other folks taking turns shooting at paper targets.
What is a tailwater pit, you ask? This one was a deep square with large pipes pointed into it. The idea behind the pit is that water runoff from the nearby irrigated fields empties into the tailwater pit where it can be recycled to water the fields again. Set up a few target frames in the bottom of the pit and you get a nice shooting range, too.
I needed to land 17 of my 25 shots inside the bowling-pin shape on the paper target at various distances, which didn’t sound that difficult to me. Guess who didn’t qualify? Yep, me. I decided to make my test more realistic so I didn’t aim. (After all, if I’m in a situation where I have to point my handgun at someone, will I really take the time to aim? Doubt it.) Unfortunately, by the time I realized I wasn’t going to qualify, it was too late to fix the problem. I had to be “recycled,” according to the instructor.
I waited until the rest of my group finished, then I shot again. This time, I landed all 25 shots. The only difference between my first and second try? Aiming.
What a perfect metaphor for life! Can I reach my goals without aiming for them? Perhaps. Sometimes I haplessly wander into success and — almost accidentally — I reach one of my goals. But most of the time, I have to aim to hit what I want.
Of course, I won’t always get what I want just because I aim for it and work toward it, but if I don’t aim by setting goals and working toward them, I decrease my chances right from the start.