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One Ten, One Time

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I started shooting competitive rifle in seventh grade, but I was never the best. No, my best friend was always Top Gun, despite the passion and perseverance I threw into my shooting. Day after day, I gave every practice everything I had.

On each target, there are ten bull’s eyes, worth a possible ten points each, 100 points per target. In a match, we shoot six targets: two prone, two standing, and two kneeling, with 600 points overall. In middle school, I shot consistently in the mid-300’s on match days- pathetic by high school standards, but a considerable feat in Junior High. Soon after joining the West Valley rifle team in ninth grade, I broke the 400 point threshold and began shooting in the 460’s to 470’s regularly. It has been my goal every since to break 500- a major milestone in any shooter’s career. My dream was not realized in my freshman season. In the last match of the year, I shot a 496. So close, yet oh so painfully far away.

Last September, in our first match, I completely bombed and shot a 367. I almost gave up the season as lost, right from the get-go. I have always had a problem with self-esteem, and as I handed over my targets to the scoring officer, I knew I would never reach my goal. But as I walked out of the range, looking dejected and frustrated, an old man who had accompanied the opposing team came up to me. “Your positions looked good,” he said. “Why the long face?” Without meeting his eyes, I explained my ridiculous score. “One ten, one time. That’s your goal. Focus on one shot at a time,” he told me. I never saw him again, but I followed his advice. My scores steadily improved as I shifted my attention from the overall score of the target to the perfect execution of a single shot. A few matches later, I shot a 510, acutely aware of the thunk of each shot hitting the bullet trap. I had finally reached the peak that had seemed insurmountable for the three previous years.

Next stop: 550.




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