Competing is fun. If you don’t already know you’re going to have to trust me on this. I just recently discover the immense thrill of hearing “Shooter ready! Stand-by!” followed by a loud buzz; the adrenaline rush of running from barrier to barrier, tap, tap, bang, bang, slayin’ frickin’ bodies. Fun: that’s all there is to it at the end of the day.
Of course, at first it’s all timidity – what am I doing? It’s like a friend of mine always says, “If they’d kicked me in the back before my run that first night, I would’ve just figured that’s how things were done.” However, it only took once for me to see the amazing amount of support I had for getting my red-head out on the hypothetical battlefield and mustering my way through the unknown.
The social aspect of any sport, any industry, is extremely important; and to see the people in the room stepping up to show me support was awesome beyond what I had imagined. Even now I see that support from friends, coworkers and customers. They all know I can do it, they have all seen me improve. I actually had a customer look at me nostalgically the other day and say “I remember a year ago when you were just learning to shoot handguns, and now you’re designing courses of fire.”
From AR lessons with coworkers to safety lectures (and bad pirate jokes) from my favorite SOs there is consistent encouragement in every league I’ve shot in, not only to have a good time, but to have the opportunity to learn and grow. It’s moved beyond just feeling supported, as in my first weeks of tap, tap, bang, bang, to feeling empowered. Having more knowledge about guns and competing than the average Joe off the street is extremely important, not only in my line of work, but being who I am in my line of work.
Competing gives me a level of credibility above and beyond wearing a black polo, which is something that is genuinely important in some circles. I’ve spent most of the last year trying to soak up as much industry knowledge as possible and the fact is that attending competitions gives you a new and interesting aspect on the industry and provides input on products and tactics that you don’t get standing in a gun store or behind a range counter. You get to see everyone’s cool toys and the stupid things they do with and to them. You can hear different sides of any given topic and get actual consumer feedback on a wide variety of products put to an array of different uses.
Competing has been an educational endeavor that has proven important to me professionally and personally, and, at the end of the day, running and gunning is just a blast.