It sounds pretty depressing but this is actually a funny article, I promise. I’m not a seasoned pro so this is not meant as a serious advice. I am just a regular gal who “tells it as it is” and I hope that if my approach to failure doesn’t help you – at least it will make you laugh.


Me after my epic jam/fail at the 2014 MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup. Photo credit: Raph Horne

Let’s Begin at the Beginning…

So, last year I decided I wanted to scratch off an item from my Bucket list & signed up for the MidwayUSA & NRA Bianchi Cup – one of the most prestigious shooting events in the US & the World. Wow – what a ride – read about it here! Despite how nerve-wracking & intense this championship is, it has its way of sucking you in, luring you, and making you believe you can do better “next year”.

Since I am a slow learner and the torture wasn’t enough, I just had to do it again this year. And I did. Once again I borrowed a gun, practiced for several days before the Cup and off I went to face my demons. They won.

Despite my short practice (believe me, it felt like a lot to me), I felt like I was doing really well. I was cleaning the plates in training, shot my best barricade ever (474, 26x) and thought I had this thing under control. Yeah, not so much. My first day I had a jam on the plates (clean your guns, people!), lost a ton of points, broke down mentally & never really recovered. The rest of my performance wasn’t as bad, yet it was quite underwhelming. I had hoped to shoot a score in the high 1700’s (dare I dream – 1800’s) and ended up with mid 1600’s – Ugh, the disappointment!

If you have participated in any competitive sport you know damn well how much it stings when you suck, especially in front of a crowd. You probably also know, however, that losing is a major & inevitable part of the game too. We all deal with disappointment differently. Here is how I do:

1. Cry or Cuss

I usually go for the latter, but hey – whatever works. Just let it out. Try to avoid affecting other shooters and do it in private, please.

2. Laugh it Off

Laughter really is the best medicine for everything. I goof off a lot & often poke fun at myself. Besides putting you in a better mood (hello endorphins), it reminds you to concentrate on what’s really important in shooting sports – having fun!

3. Get a Hug

Okay, okay – I know it’s not very manly, so if you’re a guy – go for the shoulder tap. For us ladies – there is not much a good ole hug can’t cure.

4. Lean on your friends

Shooting buddies are like family. So when you tell them how you felt – they’ll understand. They’ll empathize, make you laugh, give you a hug, and possibly give you a kick in the butt. Which leads us to the next point…

5. Suck it Up, Buttercup

I used to do Crossfit with a guy in his 60’s who often wore a shirt with this slogan. I would be panting profusely, trying to catch my breath & suppress vomit urges while he just pushed through…..

Ok, so you sucked. It happens. Don’t just give up, try again. Chances are, this is not the first time you failed and inevitably it won’t be the last. So dust off you ruffled feathers, throw away your cry towel, lift your chin up & move on.

6. Learn, Don’t Burn

Aside from equipment malfunctions, failure is usually your fault. Don’t dwell on it, but figure out what your mistake was, correct it, and practice not omitting it again. No worries, there are plenty of other mistakes you’ll make but you can reduce their likelihood of happening if you address them one by one. In my little Bianchi example: while it was not my fault I had a jam, it was my mistake that I let it impair me for the rest of the event. So, from now on I’ll facilitate malfunctions in practice (use my “bad mag”, not gauge my ammo, etc.) just so I can learn to move on calmly after an equipment problem.

7. Fear of Fear Itself

This is a tough one. I am convinced there is something in the frequency of the competition timer that makes your knees shake, your palms sweat and your vision blur. I will name it Buzzerphobia. Fear of failure is my biggest enemy and if anyone has figured out how to overcome it – please let me know!

8. No Public Opinion Tax

Another tough one is the anxiety that comes with performing in public, the fear of being judged and the predictions of what others may think about you if you fail. Get over it. Chances are – nobody really cares about you because they are too worried about themselves. Besides, their opinion shouldn’t really matter because those that count will love & respect you just for trying. You don’t have to pay $$ every time someone judges you now, do you?

9. It’s the Task, Not the Person

Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you are a failure as an individual. Take a moment to look at the rest of your life – do you have a nice family? A great job? A bunch of friends that will give you crap for your performance? Then you are lucky and definitely not a failure. Plus, let’s face it – you can’t be good at everything.

10. ???

I couldn’t come up with one more but the natural order of things dictates that I have to have #10. 🙂

These are just some of the ways I deal with disappointment when I suck. What are yours?


Your friendly neighborhood gun lady,