Motivational Quote #3

“A pessimist see’s the difficulty in every opportunity.
An optimist see’s the opportunity in every difficulty”

–Unknown–

Unfortunately the recent bout of bad weather here in the UK meant the Christmas shoot at Misfits HFT was cancelled. It looks like it has been rescheduled to the 27th December, but unfortunately I can’t make it that day. So last week’s quote from Mike Levy (CLICK HERE) is going back in the bank for now.

This week’s quote has come about from a combination of conversations and events. Combined together they have helped with my attitude towards practicing at this time of year.

I’ve recently been reading a book which has a lot to say about how successful athletes are the ones who don’t make excuses. They have the will power to continue training, whatever the circumstances might be. This is one of the factors that is fundamental to their success. Success derived from this mentality could come from a couple of places. Firstly, if they are training and their rivals are not, guess who will be more prepared come the next competition. (There are some great quotes about being prepared but they deserve their own post so I will save them for now). This preparation could be in the form of maintaining fitness or honing skills. Either way, preparation is huge. Do not underestimate it’s value.
Secondly, the athlete who trains in all conditions will be able to compete in all conditions. Consider a long distance runner who only ever trained indoors, running lap after lap of the undercover track. What happens when they enter a race that is run outside? All of the new experiences and challenges, in this case the weather, will be at best a distraction which prevents proper focus. At worst it will be a physical barrier to their performance. They won’t have the experience to deal with this, and won’t perform at their best.

I have also recently been talking to some people living in North America. And I mean proper North, as in bordering on Canada. In places where it’s so cold the truck drivers light fires under their cabs, and snow is measured in feet, not inches. People that live in these conditions understand that it can be difficult, but they get on with it anyway. Just the act of living there has conditioned their minds to deal with this adversity, until it is a part of everyday life.

The opposite could be said of life here in the UK. A few inches of snow and the country seems to implode in on itself. Public transport shuts down, trains and bus’ unmanned and dormant. Schools across the nation close their doors. Inexperienced drivers tackle the hills with their accelerator pedal ground into the floor and wheels spinning uncontrollably. We simply aren’t equipped to deal with it. The majority of us don’t have winter tyres, making driving dangerous. And we don’t often get the opportunity to practice driving on snow and ice. Instead we end up in the same situation year after year. 

I was thinking all of this on the way home from work on Monday. Actually what I was really thinking was, ‘its going to be freezing outside, I think i’ll skip practice today’. Does that sound to you like the thoughts of someone who wants to improve at a sport, and do well in the current ‘Winter Series’? No, it didn’t to me either. It sounded more like an excuse. Using the snow as a get out of jail free card, just to avoid getting chilly toes.

Time for this week’s quote then:

“A pessimist see’s the difficulty in every opportunity.
An optimist see’s the opportunity in every difficulty”

–Unknown–

This is often attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, but a quick internet search shows there is no actual evidence of this. So for now it will remain ‘Unknown’.

I was definitely seeing the difficulty in this situation. I would have to change into my warmest clothes. Find my warm boots. Clear the snow from the area around my shooting peg. When I started shooting it would be hard, because my fingers would be cold, plus the gun itself would feel freezing and uncomfortable. Shivering would make my aim unsteady and my group sizes would be terrible.

But I was missing the opportunity! This was a perfect time to test my winter clothing. How many layers would I need to cope with sub-zero temperatures? What affect would that many layers have on my hold and shooting positions? Would cold fingers affect my trigger technique?
The next round of the Daystate Midland Hunter Series is on the 14th January. January is always cold, and often see’s snow, hail and blizzards. If I took this opportunity to practice, I could better prepare myself for anything that January throws our way. Maybe I would even be able to claw my way up another spot on the league table.

With this new optimistic attitude in place. I got layered up, and I went outside to shoot. Yes the clothing did make a difference, especially to my standing shots. No my trigger technique was not too bad. And I learn some other things about shooting in the cold. All of which have been added to my library of experiences that I can call upon when needed. 

Also once I was setup and actually going through the motions of cocking the gun, getting into position, breathing, aiming, shooting. All negative thoughts about the weather were dissipating away. I was getting lost in the joy of shooting, which is after all the reason we all do it.

This was my lesson in optimism, and I’m going to return to read this post anytime I feel like quitting or skipping training for trivial reasons. In fact I am almost looking forward to the next downpour so I can get my waterproofs on and learn about shooting in heavy rain. 
A final tip from me would be: Do not be afraid to take your airgun outdoors. They were designed to be out there. Develop a routine of taking the action out of the stock and drying/cleaning it. You will learn more about your equipment, and will have less excuses to stay indoors!

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