I went to war this week.
Preparing for any major competition, athletic or otherwise, is like going to battle. You practice, drill and train for months. You ensure that your equipment is flawless, you create contingency plans for all potential aberrations and your logistics are exact. You eat, breathe, sleep and dream your goal. Then, you rise the next morning and work even harder.
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This is the life of a warrior, whether the discipline is athletics, politics, business or academia.
My war this week was not with the other fine shooters competing at the NRA’s National Championship, the 2014 Bianchi Cup. On some level, my war was no longer even with the sport of shooting and the endless quest to shoot a perfect score. My war this week was within myself and with my own history.
In comparison to my standard barometer of excellence, this week was not my finest performance. However, I am as proud of this performance as nearly any other on my resume. Three hundred and eighty days ago, I was in a hospital just a few miles away. Well-meaning and talented doctors informed me that I might never walk again. I accepted their advice, but not their surrender. With hard work, discipline, a strong team and a regimented battle plan, I spent the last 12 months preparing for this week.
Were the circumstances different, I might view yesterday as a disaster; I missed 4 plates. I have missed 4 plates only once in 18 years of shooting. But, this match took more courage than I have ever needed. After a devastating experience, it is easy to spend the subsequent hours berating yourself, replaying every moment, thinking about what you could have done. Even the greatest warriors may want to simply turn around and retreat. But, the true warrior bandages her proverbial wounds and returns to the battlefield to fight another day. I feel so grateful for the gift of this week. Many people helped me return to this battlefield and I drew strength and courage from their own faith in me.
I can still feel my boot catching on the rope last year. I can still see myself falling and I can still hear my thoughts racing about life and death. I faced those traumas and literally walked out the other side with the realization of destiny — what is meant to happen will happen. Some day, perhaps at the 2015 Bianchi Cup, all of my hard work and years of dedication will show up in a single match and I will shoot the perfect score. That quest propels me each day. For now, I continue to return to shooting for 2 simple reasons.
1.) I’ve made many friends in this wonderful sport.
2.) My shooting has taught me that I can overcome any crisis, trauma or catastrophe.
Regardless of the field of combat, we all have goals to reach and battles to fight and we all have a little warrior spirit within us.
Vera Koo is a first-generation Chinese American woman. She’s a wife and mother, author, entrepreneur and retired competition shooter. Along with Vera’s fantastic memoir and life story, "The Most Unlikely Champion," she writes her column, Vera Koo, at "Women’s Outdoor News." View all posts by Vera Koo
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