About a month ago, I had the privilege to be one of the translators for a tactical police training. A large group of active and retired U.S. law enforcement officers came to Costa Rica as volunteer instructors. 17 Costa Rican officers, representing special forces such as Presidential Police, Federal Investigative Police and SWAT, learned sniper tactics and precision shooting during this week-long course.
I had frequent conversations with some of the prison guards who escort high-risk inmates (did I mention we were on the grounds of a maximum-security prison all week?). They are a good group of men, dedicated to their job, yet are lacking in the area of precision shooting.
On the second day, one prison guard in particular was feeling discouraged after he watched some officers shoot, and commented to me, “everyone else is a sniper already…”
This wasn’t true. The rangemaster himself and many others had never even held a bolt rifle before.
Yet I understood, all too well, his feelings of inadequacy. We know we aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to others, but it can be hard to keep going when the task in front of us overwhelms.
One amazing aspect of this course was the sheer number of instructors available to give personalized attention throughout the week. Demonstrating, correcting, repositioning, yelling, running ridges, cleaning rifles, adjusting scopes and partnering with the odd man out…they did whatever it took.
Fifty hours of training under the fiery sun, cheered on by veterans who understood the sacrifice and the hard work. The instructors shared their personal testimonies with the Costa Rican officers, speaking as often of their failures as of their achievements.
All the officers were tested on the last day. Just 3 out of 17 officers passed. (For the record, even a US-trained former Ranger failed.) The lead instructor wouldn’t budge on the standard. Yet he was the first to encourage the men to keep working toward the goal.
Failures in life are disappointing to be sure, but they are not necessarily the final result. Every participant gained something from the tactical training, and the constant correction from their instructors only made them stronger.
Similarly, we don’t have to be constrained by our experience or lack thereof. And we are not in this alone. God has positioned others along the way to be coaches, training partners, medics, cheerleaders and evaluators.
When we feel overwhelmed by the challenges in front of us, we must get on with it. Just keep moving.
You have a crowd of witnesses.
When we feel inadequate, we must call upon other resources to help us set our sights on the target. No excuses.
They are cheering for you.
When we feel we’ve reached our limit, we must remember that in a race, only one takes the prize. Run to win.
The roar is deafening.