ZEN AND THE ART OF SHOOTING
When you can accomplish a task successfully without thinking – it merely occurs – this is Zen.
Zen is learning how to shoot without thought.
Frank Higginson is one of the most accomplished shooters of all time. He still holds records that have stood since the 1970s.
As Frank Higginson has said; “In shooting, you learn more about yourself than any other sport.”
This important self-discovery that occurs through practicing the art of shooting is nothing more than Zen itself.
It seems contradictory that to acquire great skill you must think about every aspect of execution, and do so all the time – but to achieve great PERFORMANCE – you must not “think” AT ALL!
If you have watched the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai you would remember the comments his character, Captain Nathan Algren, receives from the young master during his samurai training:
Nobutada: “Please forgive, too many mind.”
Nathan Algren: “Too many mind?”
Nobutada: “Hai. Mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind the enemy, too many mind… No mind.”
What Nobutada is saying is that for Algren to succeed, he must remove all distracting thoughts from his consciousness. “No mind’ means “Having a clear mind that is perfectly still.”
The Samurai Creed and their use of Bushido, the way of the Samurai, takes this concept further:
I have no Sword; I make No Mind my Sword.
The blank slate of the accepting mind is the most powerful tool one can own.
The mind that is ready and able to listen to whatever words are spoken.
The mind that has no preconceived thoughts to clutter perception.
Drop silk on the blade of a Samurai sword and it will cut it in half without effort – the smooth unsullied blade can cut through steel because it is perfect.
But – one fingerprint can damage that blade.
The Samurai seeks the perfection of 0, of nothingness.
By achieving Mushin, the state of No Mind – of pure potential without seeking action – the Samurai is ready for anything.
To succeed in the art of shooting – you must become one with the pistol.
You must be extremely analytical, cognitive and dedicated in your quest to perfect the skills of shooting by learning and perfecting your form and technique.
But, when actually performing, you must let your powerful mind/body combination operate on the subconscious level – so it can do what it has trained so diligently to do without the interference of the conscious mind.
All your effort and focus should be on the execution of the act of firing a shot or a series of shots that conform perfectly to the model you have derived from all your learning, understanding and rehearsal – with no regard at all for what the results of this execution might be.
Training your mind and knowing what that is will put you ahead of 80% of other shooters before you fire your first shot!
You must be in control of yourself, and the pistol. You must have a clear mind that is perfectly still.
Most shooters’ minds are all over the place with self-doubt, fear, and irrelevant thoughts.
When you shoot, avoid being judgmental – just shoot.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, this is an opportunity for new growth, learning and developing skill.