• Joy Allen

A Little Fish in a Big Sea

I remember the days I spent preparing college applications. I’d narrowed my choices down to three schools but had a difficult time making a priority selection. In his attempt to help me finalize my decision, my dad asked me a question that I would apply to many decisions to come – “Would you rather be a big fish in a little sea or a little fish in a big sea?”


That question went on to shape the decisions I’d make for my family,

my career, and a myriad of other important considerations. With that question, my father challenged me to consider my position within any microcosm of life. My firearms training has been no exception. My choice, in this regard, is to spend as much time as a little fish in a big sea as possible.


What does that mean?


Being a big fish in a little sea certainly has its benefits. This generally implies that a circle is rather small or limited with one individual being the clear favorite – the star. Some prefer to be the best among their colleagues. They are the leader, the expert, and the popular choice, the one everyone desires to follow and emulate. The problem, however, is that leader leaves themselves with little room to grow and no one willing to push or challenge them.


On the contrary, the little fish in the big sea is often drowned out. With a larger circle of influence, more opportunities exist, but that fish is rarely noticed. The competition is great and the ability to stand out is drastically reduced. This is not an ideal position for any attention-seeker or opportunist. For those willing to step outside of a comfort zone, however, it's ideal. It offers an opportunity to see and experience things that otherwise would not be accessible. And when one knows better, one can do better.


When it comes to firearms training (and many other aspects of my life), I am certainly one who prefers to be a little fish in a big sea. One of my favorite quotes says, “Sit at the table with winners. The conversation is different.” I have found this to be true in the world of firearms training and beyond. If we remain humble and surround ourselves with the many accomplished and influential figures already shaping the culture, there is a lot that can be learned and accomplished.


I'll step out on a limb here and make this bold assessment... Ultimately, it's a question of ego - humility vs. pride. Are you in this to feel good about yourself or actually perfect your craft?


My personal observation has been that far too many take a few courses, enter the competitive arena or become an instructor, but then neglect to continue challenging themselves with training. This practice will retard or even halt one’s progression.


Personally, I have no problem being obscure. I have grown used to being the “worst shot” among my peers, the only female, the only minority, the youngest, etc., and I’m glad to be there! Why? Because I surround myself with “the best in the game”. I position myself to learn from the elite so that I will continue to be challenged and grow. I transfer intimidation into an opportunity to mature. I’m willing to pay the cost so that even at my worst, I’ll find myself well above average.


Shooting is a perishable skill. Not only do I want to maintain proficiency, but my desire to progressively improve, without limit. So I have a lot of proverbial swimming to do!


What about you?


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