The Perfect Shot

The perfect sight picture…the perfect trigger pull…the perfect shot

There is a line in The Last Samurai where Ken Watanabe’s character says to Tom Cruise’s character that “You could spend your entire life searching for the perfect cherry blossom, and it would not be a wasted life.” I shot NRA collegiate pistol when I was at the Academy, and still shoot competitively today. Shooting (for me) has become that search for the perfect cherry blossom, in so much as I’m constantly trying to get better. I’m also looking to improve what I view as my art, always in search of The Perfect Shot.

What exactly is The Perfect Shot? It’s that shot, whether you’re hunting, shooting IDPA, bullseye, muzzleloaders, or plinking; that one shot where everything is just right. Your sight picture is perfect, the trigger breaks cleanly, and you know in your heart that the bullet is going exactly where you want it. The Perfect Shot is when you reach that point, even if it’s for a split second where your firearm really is just an extension of your arm. The Perfect Shot is your first shot, your last shot, or any shot in between. The Perfect Shot is why I keep shooting, because once you’ve had it – you’ve got to have it again.

My first experience with the Perfect Shot was at the Academy, during a match against West Point and Ohio State. I was shooting my last event of the day, Free Pistol. I had had a rough day, and hadn’t shot my best during Air or Standard, and I felt like I was chasing my own tail. My first five shots during Free were three 8’s and two 9’s; I knew that wasn’t going to get it done. I rolled my next target downrange, set my gun on the table and just stared at the wall for a while.

When I picked my gun back up, it felt lighter; but heavy at the barrel, almost like it wanted to point straight at the ten-ring. Everything happened just right, the gun came up, I let out a half-breath, took my sight picture and just squeeeeeeeeezzzzzeeeeeeeeeed the trigger. Perfect. I knew it was a 10, I didn’t even need to glass it. That shot, that Perfect Shot changed the entire match. I stopped chasing my score and just settled in. I have shot higher scores since that match, but I’m still proud of that moment.

Ever since then, I’m always in pursuit of the next Perfect Shot. It’s happened a few times here and there, and each time it’s just the thing I need to get my head back into the game.

You can’t chase the Perfect Shot – if you’re trying for it, you’ll never get it. I’ve never been able to force a Perfect Shot, they only happen when I’m relaxed. That moment, that Shot…it stays with you. I’ll always remember the feeling of that Perfect Shot, of every Perfect Shot. That’s why I keep shooting; yes, it’s fun; yes it’s good to practice. But I keep shooting so I can find that perfect cherry blossom.