I will return to the questions raised in my blog posts the last two days sometime next week. For today, perhaps something a little lighter.
I have become a dead shot.
I do not say this as a statement of pride or arrogance. In fact, until very recently, I wasn't exactly the most confident shot or a very good shooter at all. There are probably a lot of reasons for that which I will not go into here. But after purchasing a new rifle, equipping it with a pretty good scope, and firing a whole lot of rounds through it, the results are coming in:
With an appropriate rest, I can put a bullet where it needs to be with very little variation. The last four times I've gone pig hunting, I've managed to drop three pigs each shot right behind the ear. Previous to this, I hadn't hit a pig right in the head like that at all. Something has happened to help me hit the mark and hit that mark on a regular basis.
I think the biggest thing is becoming consistent. When practicing, I finally found a method which allows me to consistently hold the gun in exactly the same manner, aim in exactly the same manner, and pull the trigger in exactly the same manner. I don't think I've always been so consistent. And now that I have figured out how to bring the same method of the gun range into the deer stand, the results are fabulous!
You see, I've pulled the trigger on four pigs and bagged three. Last night, I missed the mark.
I saw a monster boar. He weighed anywhere from 350 to 400 lbs. When he came out, I figured he was going to head to the feeder, and I'd get a shot at him there, but I was wrong. He started circling well behind the feeder, and he turned to head toward the woods at the far end of the property. I didn't want him to get away, so I steadied my gun, rested it perfectly, aimed, and the pulled the trigger.
I saw dust kick up right behind the pig and a very startled pig take off running like a bullet.
"WTH?" I thought to myself. "How did I miss that? Is my gun off? Did I jump?"
The pig ran off toward another stand at the place where I hunt, so I jumped out of the blind and headed to the other stand. After several minutes, I arrived only to see another group of pigs heading back toward my previous spot. And, since I saw no sign of the giant boar, I headed back to the previous stand.
I came out into the clearing and there were nearly 30 pigs under the feeder! I was 30 yards from the stand, and I thought, "They'll probably see me and take off." But they didn't. I managed to get back in the stand. Set up my shooting bag, and get perfectly situated to get off another shot. There was only one problem: with so many pigs running around, I couldn't get a very good head shot. I had to wait 2 or 3 minutes before finally getting the right shot.
Pig down. Walking up to it--dead shot right behind the ear.
Nothing wrong with the gun. Nothing wrong with the scope. Nothing wrong with the rest. Nothing wrong with the shooter. Why did I miss earlier?
As best as I can figure, the darn pig ducked his head just as I was squeezing off the trigger. The bullet just sailed over his head, and I missed the mark.
Now, for some theology:
One may think one is doing everything correctly. One might think one is a dead shot. One might become arrogant and overconfident that one hits the target every time. But no one hits it every time. All sorts of circumstances come into play which lead one to miss the mark. And it really doesn't matter whose "fault" it is for missing. One still misses. There is no such thing as perfection.
But it is demanded. Luckily, I am not in a situation where I needed the meat from that first pig, but if I were, I just lost the opportunity to feed me and my family for a while. I just lost the opportunity to rid this area of another animal which has become a major nuisance. Missing is unacceptable.
Just like sin. One of the traditional understandings of sin is to miss the mark. It's something we all do no matter how much of a dead shot we think we are. Sure, we might think we hit the target perfectly from time to time, but sometimes we just think we're doing well until we find ourselves in a situation where there are quite a few things out of our control. Then, we miss the mark. And if we live in a world where things are always changing--where there are things that are always out of our control, we will miss the mark often and a lot. Even if you think you are a dead shot, you'd better be humble because you will miss--guaranteed.
And this is why I am thankful for God's forgiveness and grace. Missing isn't the end of the world. There's another chance to take aim and fire. And perhaps this time, you'll hit dead center.