Sunday, December 9, 2012

Marksmanship skills also important in outdoor survival

I have to say I was more than a little intimadated to enter the gun range at Fletcher Arms in Milwaukee, but my goal was to become more comfortable with various calibers of weapons. I wanted to  be able to load, unload and lastly to shoot a variety of guns. To my surprise, with the right teacher, I was not only able to hit the target but to also hit a few bullseyes after only one session. I am not a gun enthusist by any means but it was all part of my goal to become prepared and to feel more self empowered. It did make me feel more empowered but above all I came away feeling a lot more respectful of the power that is behind a gun. I was also very impressed by the staff of Fletcher Arms. There was a warm, welcoming feeling and my instructor, Bob Llanas, was very competent and a patient teacher. He emphasized being respectful of the gun and feeling comfortable with it long before entering the gun range.

I have had self defense and archery training and I think the mind set behind both was very similar to the philosophy that Bob emphasized. We talked about the importance of breathing and mental preparedness. In an outdoor survival situation, breathing and mental preparedness are also crucial and a part of the basics to stay alive. Knowing you can take care of yourself helps to eliminate some of the panic that is sure to try to take over. I have heard several times that in an emergency situation, people have the tendency to revert to a grade level mentality that inhibits them from getting themselves out of whatever situation they found themselves in. I can attest to that from a personal point of view.

I remember a summer between years at college while working in the Boundary Waters getting seperated from a group of friends. I suddenly realized I had no idea where I was and I felt the panic start to settle in. I even felt the strange desire to run which I did until I realized how much worse it was making me panic. So I stopped, sat down, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing which helped me focus my mind on the situation and think more clearly. I began to visualize being safe and knowing I had the knowledge to take care of myself for the short term if need be. My panic began to subside while I visualized creating a "home base" to practice the skills I had learned and felt myself getting excited about how I would make my debris hut. While my eyes were closed, I heard voices and kept my eyes closed until I could truly identify the direction they were coming from. I was able to meet back up with my friends but I never forgot that debilitating urge to panic and the way I got myself out of it.

I don't know when or if I will ever need my marksmanship training but I do know that the knowledge and skills I gained at the gun range have made me feel more prepared and empowered.

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