The Game of a Lifetime
At a certain point in life, athletes can no longer compete at the level they once did. It seems they can work their entire lives to reach a physical peak somewhere between the ages of 16 and 35, only to then find that after this peak, it becomes nearly impossible to compete with the same intensity as they once did. Their bodies just can't keep up anymore. It's a sad but true fact of life that all athletes, some day, must come to terms with.
Except maybe in shooting. In shooting, a 95-year-old can beat an NCAA division I athlete in an official competition. Hey, it happened to me.
You might be thinking: Huh, what a funny once in a lifetime experience? It’s not everyday that a person nearly a century old can beat a person who hasn't even gone through a quarter life crisis yet. Well, it's happened, and I’ll admit, more than once. I've had an 88-year-old man, a guy somewhere in his 70s and a few other elder gents school me in a sport that I admittedly have skill in. And I'm certainly not the only one this has happened to.
Shooting is a lifelong sport, which is actually one of my favorite things about it. This is a sport for the whole family (keep in mind that different states have separate laws regarding age restrictions). Even more so, is that sometimes kids younger than me will beat me too!
As my teammate and fellow coach, Hannah Black put it; "Shooters are like a fine wine… they get better with age."
In its most basic form, shooting is mostly a mental sport. The most mainstream thing I can compare it to is golf. It's about consistency, focus and discipline. It's about doing the same thing over and over again in the exact same way. Some people catch onto this idea earlier than others, hence the talented younger shooters. But for most people, this idea of consistency, focus and discipline all lining up together comes with age and maturity. It's not easy keeping your brain that focused for almost two hours straight. I mean just now, after writing that sentence, I checked my phone even though it didn't go off. It's just difficult to maintain focus sometimes. But it seems, from talking to and observing not only more experienced shooters, but also more experienced people in life in general, with age comes patience. Patience— I've gathered— helps with acquiring the focus and discipline required for full-consistency.
The main thing I have learned from this aspect of the sport is that competitive shooters need to let go of the bad matches, the bad shots and the bad days, because we’ve got a lifetime of good matches, good shots and good days ahead of us. Basically, in shooting, you have a lifetime of opportunity for improvement, so don't get caught up in the small stuff; which, as many things in shooting are, is a great lesson for not only this sport, but for life off the line as well.
Kelly Bogart is a Film, Television and Digital Media and Political Science double major at Texas Christian University. Bogart has seven years of shooting under her belt and currently competes on TCU’s Women’s Rifle Team. Bogart is traveling the country this summer as a coach teaching high school students across the country how to improve their shooting skills. In addition to coaching and competing, Bogart is a freelance blog writer working with The Mako Group.