My 3 day shooting & camping trip was a blast. I’d get up at the crack of dawn, cook some oatmeal on the camping stove in our tent, make some sandwiches to bring for lunch, and head out for squadding (target and relay assignment). We’d head out to the shooting line not long after 8, spend a whole day shooting, then return to camp. I’d clean my rifle and eat dinner before sunset, then crawl into my sleeping bag not long after dark. It was a simple life, and a good life. Everything I needed and wanted was there, and nothing to worry about.
I’ll go into the details of the shooting in a separate post in my gun blog, but it was an extremely humbling yet inspiring experience for me. It deepened my appreciation and love for the sport, but also made me realize how much more room for improvement I have, and I came out with a strong resolve to do better. I’ve decided that I need to switch to shooting left handed, so that I can look through those sights with my dominant (and much better) left eye. Making that switch and improving my skills will require a nontrivial investment in time and money, but fortunately, those are two things I have right now.
This strong urge to improve my skills in a sport is new to me. I’ve never been competitive, or much of an athlete. I used to joke that basketball players must be really dumb; they keep throwing balls into baskets not realizing there’s a hole at the bottom. The rational and utilitarian part of me has a hard time rationalizing athletic achievements. What’s the point? Why should I improve my skills? Will it help anyone? Will it make the world a better place? Why bother if the best I could realistically hope for is to be yet another Master class shooter? Why waste time and money on such an endeavor? Maybe I’ve given up on making the world a better place, but I haven’t given up on doing something I could be proud of. Or maybe I’m going to do it because I want to, and because I can. Instead of questioning myself, maybe I should just be grateful that unlike many people in this world, I am fortunate enough to be able to pursue my passions.
Learning to be better at something is pretty much as quintessentially human an activity as you could hope to find. I sometimes wonder if people talking all the time about finding their purpose are overlooking the fact that, for most things a purpose means something a thing is designed to do, like a hammer’s purpose is hammering. Obviously I’m not claiming humans were designed, but we certainly developed to fill a niche in which we are learning machines. We learn to make tools and use them, constantly improving our abilities not by instinct but by conscientious trial and error. Otherwise our brains are a big fat waste of evolutionary energy…
The good life, whatever else it may entail, certainly involves having something you never get tired of learning, practicing, and improving.