High Master’s Lament

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On April 1st, Jim Henderson wrote on Facebook:

… That didn’t go as planned. Only 1 bad shot, but too many 8’s and not enough 10’s. My average shot was a 9. Not a bad thing if you’re shooting 10’s along with them.
It was my first in comp world cup. All in all I guess it wasn’t horrible, just not good. I know I can do better. I saw what those guys shot in the final, I have shot better than that. I just have to find that process I can repeat consistently in the qualifier to get me there. Lots of work to do.

And, in response to comments, he later added:

Thanks for all the encouragement everyone! No [sic] pitty party here, just venting a bit. I know it will come together. I just have to be patient and keep working.

Although posted on April Fools Day, Jim’s message is not a joke. It’s a serious comment about his performance in the enormously difficult sport of precision pistol shooting.

For those who don’t know, Jim is comfortably at the pinnacle of Bullseye shooters in the United States. Consistently finishing at the top in the USA championships each year in Camp Perry Ohio, he recently decided to take on the world, literally, in International shooting sports and his performance so far on the world stage shows every sign that he will be a member of the US Olympic team in 2016 and strong contender for the gold.

What caught my attention in his Facebook posting is Jim’s admission that he doesn’t know how to consistently shoot the perfect shot. He is, to paraphrase his second comment, still working on it.

It’s a process of trial and error. That is, while you may watch others for tips, attend rigorous training and get expert one-on-one coaching, it is still up to each person to figure out exactly what works for them.

No one can teach you to shoot the perfect shot: You have to work it out yourself.

For those of us many rungs below on the ladder of accomplishment, Jim’s soul-searching shows that the only way up the ladder is to guess, to try, and to sometimes admit, perhaps with a chuckle after looking through the spotting scope, “Whoops, that doesn’t work.”

And then try something else.

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