In Others’ Words: Aim

“If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet & educator

A few years ago, my two oldest daughters and I experienced a different kind of “girls’ night out.”

Instead of heading to our favorite restaurant for dinner, conversation and laughter, we spent four hours at Whistling Pines, the local gun club. The instructor, a woman who competes in shooting competitions, taught us everything from “This is a bullet” to “Do not point that loaded gun at me. Or you. Point it down range–at the target.”

I’m a writer. An editor. Usually the most dangerous thing I pick up is a red pen. (Are you scared yet?) Why did I go learn how to shoot a gun?

Because I didn’t know how. And I wanted to learn how to handle a gun safely in a nice controlled environment.

At the end of the evening, my goal was to hit the target — as many times as I could. And, yes, I often found that to “hit the mark” I had to aim a little higher than where I wanted the bullets to go.

Ready. Aim. Fire.

Was I ready? Yes. I’d been instructed. And I’d listened very, very closely. Journalist that I am, I took notes.

Did I aim the gun? Sure did. I focused on nothing else but the target. I didn’t worry about anyone else on the range. I didn’t think about where they were aiming. My eyes were on my target only — and a little higher than where I wanted to hit.

Fire. Bottom line, I had to finally pull the trigger. Let the bullets leave the gun. Deal with the sound, and the kick, and the end result. Sometimes I missed. Sometimes I surprised myself and did better than I expected. But I always accomplished something.

In Your Words: What are you aiming for? And what’s your secret for hitting the mark? Are you aiming just a little bit higher than what you want to achieve? What causes you to aim lower?




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  1. December 12, 2011, 6:31 am   /  Reply

    Excellent and impacting–a bull’s eye!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 6:37 am   /  Reply

      Your comment brought a smile to my face, Dee!

  2. Jeanne T
    December 12, 2011, 7:30 am   /  Reply

    Great post, Beth. I have been wanting to learn how to shoot a gun too. Haven’t mustered up the courage to go do it yet. 🙂 I’m aiming for various things in each aspect of my life. If I had to pick one, it would be allowing myself to be completely conformed to the image of Jesus. Sometimes I aim lower because sometimes it hurts to aim higher. Other times, “I” get in the way.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 8:54 am   /  Reply

      My faith walk … that’s a whole other series of blog posts. Keep your eyes on this space!
      And, yes, I get in the way of myself more than anything else!

  3. December 12, 2011, 7:44 am   /  Reply

    I have to aim low when shooting a gun. It’s the only way I hit the target. I’m not really cut out for shooting practice, but strategically took shooting classes while a newspaper editor. 🙂 While I know how to stretch myself, I do my best to set realistic goals. A NaNoWriMo catastrophe in 2009 taught me a valuable lesson about goals and challenges.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 8:53 am   /  Reply

      Hhhhmmm. Mulling this over. Is aiming realistically shooting low? I’m not so sure … and is is aiming for a dream shooting low? Absolutely not!

  4. December 12, 2011, 8:05 am   /  Reply

    I was thinking about this after I commented on Rachelle’s blog this morning. Truthfully, I’m aiming for publication and I honestly believe my secret is letting go…and loving what I’m doing and where I’m at right now.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 8:52 am   /  Reply

      Excellent, excellent observation, Wendy!

  5. December 12, 2011, 8:28 am   /  Reply

    I love this, Beth, especially the part about paying attention to no one’s target but your own. It’s so easy to get distracted by what others are doing–and how others are succeeding when you haven’t even managed to hit the outer rings of your target.

    I think what helps me to hit the mark (or keeps me aiming and shooting) is a calm assurance that I’m where God wants me, at least for now.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 8:52 am   /  Reply

      Calm assurance is a big part of hitting the target.
      I was a nervous wreck around handguns before I took that class. I had to learn the basics of gun safety –everything from “this is a bullet” to “ready, aim, fire” so that I can hit the target. And,yes, I hit the target! But learning was all part of the end result: calm assurance.

  6. December 12, 2011, 8:34 am   /  Reply

    Wow, this is so, so good. Your posts always make me think, but this one did especially. I want to aim higher…goes with my word for 2012: soar. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 8:50 am   /  Reply

      Absolutely! I love how this ties in with your word for 2012, Melissa!

  7. December 12, 2011, 9:24 am   /  Reply

    I’m aiming high, but at times I grow weary, fearful, discouraged. At those times I’m grateful for the dear people in my life who encourage me and help me lift my sights to something higher.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 10:00 am   /  Reply

      Ah, yes — the value of others. I wouldn’t be able to aim high without the help of others. This is true in life, in writing, and in the gun range.

  8. December 12, 2011, 9:30 am   /  Reply

    My first time shooting was at full pickle jars that were dumped on a trash site – a smelly target, for sure. Great post and reminder to aim higher. Thanks.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 10:01 am   /  Reply

      Well, Kim, ya gotta aim at something!

  9. Loree Huebner
    December 12, 2011, 10:05 am   /  Reply

    Aiming for the bullseye!

    Btw, I’m a pretty good shot for real.

    Great post.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 10:32 am   /  Reply

      I learned I’m not a bad shot either, Loree! And I like going to the gun range too.

  10. December 12, 2011, 10:19 am   /  Reply

    Awesome metaphor, Beth. Thank you!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 10:32 am   /  Reply


  11. Cindy R. Wilson
    December 12, 2011, 11:08 am   /  Reply

    I tend to aim high. Right now I’m aiming for an agent, but trying for those publications opportunities as well. I used to think everything had to go in a specific order, but I’m learning to keep my mind open and just keep trying to hit that mark as hard as I can.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 2:13 pm   /  Reply

      I like your insight that things don’t always go in the “1,2,3” order we often plan, Cindy!

  12. December 12, 2011, 11:11 am   /  Reply

    Love this, Beth. At some point, we all have to pull the trigger. I love that.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 6:19 pm   /  Reply

      Pulling the trigger that first time? The hardest time.

  13. December 12, 2011, 12:05 pm   /  Reply

    Interesting post Beth. I need to aim higher. I have been thinking about that lately. When it comes to my writing I was afraid to aim high because so many people fail. (But that is probably what you meant when you said, don’t look around at others, right?) So then I had to decide what does a ‘succeed’ and a ‘fail’ look like in my life of writing. Surely publication is not the only succeed. So now, I’m ready to aim higher.
    Thanks for the boost!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 6:18 pm   /  Reply

      You’re right, Jodi. There are plenty of other ways to succeed as a writer besides publication. And sometimes publication can also become a huge fail …

  14. December 12, 2011, 6:58 pm   /  Reply

    Wow, now that’s a unique girls’ night out! 🙂 Awesome advice, Beth. I especially love the idea of aiming a little higher than our target.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 12, 2011, 9:14 pm   /  Reply

      Sarah, it was one of the most fun girls’ nights ever!

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