Ever take your camera on vacation? To a wedding? To a birthday party or graduation?

I do all the time. I take my camera to those events because I know there’s a very good chance that something will happen there that’s important enough for me to take a picture of and keep forever, so I make sure I’m prepared for it when it happens. Also, I know from previous experience that I can consistently get better pictures at such events with a dedicated camera, so I want to be ready for those pictures when they happen.

We’ve grown to rely on the ubiquitous modern smartphone camera, but if we know there’s a special event coming up where there are memories we want to hold special, we tend to take a dedicated camera with us because it offers us more chances to take good pictures.Good photographs will abound at such an event, and we’ll be ready for them with gear that gives us a better chance of success.

Make The Shot When It Counts

While their gear may be similar to yours, what a professional photographer brings to such occasions is consistency. Almost anyone can take a good picture when opportunities abound, but a professional photographer can find a good shot in the most mundane of situations, and find them over and over again. That ability to make the shot, on demand and under pressure, is the result of training, familiarity with your equipment and years of practice.

Are you seeing a connection with the firearms world yet?

Stay Focused When It Really Counts

Making the shot, on-time and on-demand is an essential part of being a good marksman, and it’s also an essential part being a good photographer. A good photographer, especially a good photojournalist, knows how to consistently take great photographs in just about any situation, with the gear that’s on them right now.

So it is with being a good shot with your firearm of choice, especially when it comes for a defensive encounter. A bad guy isn’t going to wait for you to develop the skill to save your life, nor will he give you a “do over” and let you retrieve your gun if it’s not with you when you need it most.

Be Persistent About Consistency

Consistently make the shot

You’re going to need supplies if you want to work on consistency

When it comes to practice and training, we can all make that occasional lucky shot and hit a difficult target. However, being competent with your firearm of choice means knowing that it was a lucky shot in the first place. We don’t suddenly develop the skill of a world-class sports photographer at our children’s soccer game, and when the time comes and we are forced to defend a life with a firearm, we won’t suddenly turn into Wyatt Earp. Rather, in both situations, we will have to rely on the knowledge and gear we have at that moment. It’s up to each of us to put in the effort to develop a consistent skill level that is up to the task at hand, whether it’s capturing a special moment or defending the life of a special someone.

Consistency is a hard to develop because it means finding out what you’re doing wrong, and then correcting it through practice and training. It’s that first step, finding out what you’re doing wrong, that is the hardest to perform. We all like to think we’re good shots, be it with a camera or a gun, but the out-of-focus, poorly framed images on the screen don’t lie, and neither does a target on the range that’s full of randomly-placed holes with no apparent grouping.

See The Shot, Take The Shot

Next time you’re at the range, take a moment to look at your target. Are there any shots which form a group? If so, do you remember how you held your gun / saw the sights / pressed the trigger when you fired each shot? If so, try to do that again on your next trip to the range. If not, you need to develop the skill of shooting a consistent group, and develop it quickly.

Developing the skill to make a consistent group is the essence of being a good marksman. While it’s fun to go to a wedding and one or two photos that capture the moment, it’s much more fun and enjoyable if you come home with dozens of photos you can share with others.

It’s the same with going to range. Making a shot is fun. Making the shot, over and over and over again, is rewarding and fulfilling in a completely different sort of way. Making a shot gives you a one-time feeling of accomplishment. Developing the ability to shoot a group and then making the shot over and over again, especially when it matters most, gives you confidence in your skills that you can take with as you leave the range and live an armed and safe lifestyle.