Tuning Out: Using Mom Talents at the Shooting Range

I was at our local Publix supermarket the other day when I witnessed the following scene: an infant was slumped over in the shopping cart, crying at full volume, while her older, toddler sibling was dragging his body on the floor, hanging from his mom’s grip. He was wailing, even more loudly than his baby sister.

As a mom of 3, this sight didn’t shock or surprise me at all. In fact, I knowingly looked over at the mom who seemed almost calm—zombie like—just staring straight ahead, not really looking at anything or anyone. At that moment, I was relieved that I was enjoying a rare shopping trip alone. But I could completely relate to this frazzled, fellow parent and to her distressing situation. She was clearly “done” with all the crying and the screaming. But she knew that she needed to finish her task. And as she continued to place canned goods and spaghetti sauce in her cart, one hand still clutching her squirming son, she probably didn’t even hear the noise.…

Keep that scenario in mind for just a moment.

My husband and I like to go to the range together. But when I shoot well, he gives me a quizzical look and asks what I’m doing or what I’m thinking about or focusing on to shoot so precisely. I never know how to answer that. So I tell him that I just aim, pull the trigger, and shoot! He sometimes proceeds to question my grip or stance or how I’m lining up my sights. He’s even made a few suggestions and recommendations, here and there. And he’s challenged me on occasion about shot anticipation, checking to see if I’m jerking, wincing, flinching, squeezing until I’m “surprised”… or just pulling the trigger. But, in all honesty, I’m not letting any of those thoughts bombard me when I’m lined up to shoot. In fact, beyond practicing the universal safety rules, when I’m ready to pull the trigger, I try NOT to think too much. I save the analysis and the self-criticism for before or after—not during—the shot.

Nevertheless, after considering this phenomenon, I’m convinced that there’s something more to my ability to make a good shot than “not thinking about it too much.” And I honestly believe that it’s related to the special superpower moms have to completely tune out their wild, loud, whiny, rambunctious, screaming children! After all, we moms have to be able to zone out now and then, or we’d never be able to get anything done. Ever. For example, I’m writing this right now while my oldest daughter and son are yelling and cheering at the TV screen as they attempt to beat the next level of a very noisy video game. My baby girl is screeching and kicking and banging her toys around as she’s scooting around me in her walker. The microwave is beeping at me, alerting me to hot popcorn. My husband is chatting on his cell phone. And the dog just started barking. But I need to finish this task. So I don’t really even hear the noise….

I’m fairly certain that when I’m pulling the trigger, I’m using this same tactic to drown out and disregard all the noise and distractions (internal and external). That, alone, may not automatically translate into punching holes in a bullseye, but it can certainly help with anticipation of the shot… or with fear of that “bang.” And moms are just naturally good at it. So next time I encounter a frazzled mom whose zoning-out abilities are strong, I just may let her know how she can utilize those amazing mom talents at the shooting range!

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