Friday, February 09, 2007

Zen and Deja Vu

"Ready! Fire!"
The weapon comes up, sight picture, sight alignment, front sight front sight front sight, preeeessss the trigger BLAM trigger reset and preeeesssss BLAM. Scan left and right, eyes and weapon together for any possible threat and snapping back to low ready.
"Ready! Fire!" The cycle repeats. Hundreds of repetitions dry fire then hundreds of rounds then hundreds more from the draw....
"Fire!" Left hand snaps to chest as right drops to the holster, breaking retention snaps and then pulling the weapon to the high ready position at my right armpit, cantered slightly out so that if I have to fire from there the slide won't snag on equipment or clothing. The left hand slides around, securing a 360 degree grip and I thrust the weapone forward in front of my eyes -sight alignement sight picture front sight- and preesss BLAM! recover trigger reset and pressss BLAM! scan left and right, snap the weapon to retension and pause for a second and holster.

Then the same, moving foward and back, the universe in one way limited to a two-inch square on a humanoid target, in another way encompassing all that surrounds the range as each scan is a reminder that one shot, one battle, one life happens in the context of the world- to focus entirely on one threat is to miss the enemy on the flank, to focus on one obsession is to miss all of life.

"Ready! Fire!"

Grip. Stance. Aggressive forward lean. Ams locked. Sight alignment. Sight picture. Breathing. Trigger press. It is complex, many things to think about, too much for the conscious mind to handle without letting one facet slip. I decide to throw my mind away. You've done this through enough reps, I tell myself, you no longer need to watch it. I give my body permission to make the shots before I consciously okay it... my groups tighten up. The speed of point shooting with the accuracy of aimed fire.

Caveat and note bene: The ability to let your body do what you have trained without conscious interference is a primary goal of martial arts, self defense, CQB, the whole shebang. It is very easy to delude yourself that you have achieved some kind of mastery when you let yourself loose like that. Letting yourself loose isn't mastery (though a lot of worthless instructors have convinced themselves and their students otherwise). Here's the deal- if it is the real thing, you will get better when you let yourself loose. You need to consciously and critically evaluate the effect. If you aren't better, go back to reps. You aren't ready yet.

It was good, and for a few hours in the pouring rain it was a deep meditation, touching the core, letting things happen, mind open but focused, awareness locked on a two inch square while simultaneously open to the sphere.

Later that night, the LT had to leave. Complications with his wife's pregnancy. I offered to drive him, hinted that it would be a very long drive with some very dark thoughts...

Fifteen years or more ago at this very same military base, while I was in the National Guard, I arrived for an NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) Defense Instructor course and got a message that my wife, shortly after after the birth of our first born was hemorrhaging badly. I was instructed to leave immediately. It was a two hour drive alone in the dark wondering what my life would be like without Kami. Even then, when the darkness was much farther away, she was still safe harbor, still a bastion of sense and beauty in the world. What would I do facing life without her and with a son only days old... dark thoughts, scary thoughts for a long, lonely drive.

I knew the lieutenant would be facing similar thoughts and he shouldn't have to face them alone. He chose to, and he used the time to compose himself to better comfort his wife.

The first part of the first day of training....

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