To honor Pararescue Chief Ramon Colon-Lopez’s recent selection to the highest enlisted position in the military, we are publishing his 5-part must-read Carnivore Leadership series. Chief “CZ’s” papers can be applied to everyone in and out of the military and will make you a better AFSPECWAR applicant, operator, leader and person. Enjoy the third round: Hitting the Target
Vol 3. Hitting the Target
By: CMSgt Ramon Colon-Lopez
In Vol. 1, I presented you my ’20 Silver Bullets’ concept to help you become a more effective leader by sharing my own experiences and lessons learned through a collection of quotes. Additionally, I asked you to develop 10 silver bullets of your own to fill that notional 30-round magazine to full capacity. The purpose of that task was to institute the strength of your own experiences and apply them in your own manner.
Then, in Vol. 2, I highlighted ways for each of us, in our three enlisted tiers, to become more effective by caring for our own unique challenges, duties, and responsibilities. I mentioned the importance of embracing the military profession by going ‘back to the basics’ in order to live up to the honor of being an American Airman. The bottom line was to be a bold and proud example of AF leadership.
Now, in Vol. 3, I want to conduct a vector check to follow through on our quest for excellence by hitting the target with the silver bullets that I have provided you. For the purpose of this metaphor, the weapon represents your body, the bullets represent your actions/philosophy, the range is your place of duty, and the targets are your goals.
As you fire these silver bullets down-range, know that the targets you engage are those everyday chances to excel, which may give you an opportunity to prove yourself a valuable member of the Air Force. These opportunities cannot–and must not–be missed. You must be ready to engage them when they appear in your sights and make each round count. Put your training into immediate action and zero-in on making a difference today!
With that said, make your weapons ‘ready’; the range is now going ‘Hot’!
HITTING THE TARGET
First, you are the weapon that fires these metaphorical bullets: Your body–much like any issued weapon–must be well maintained, serviceable, and fully functional. Your judgement and vision, much like your sights, must be clean and free of fog. Practice makes perfect and you can never be content by just being good; you must always set higher goals. Goal accomplishment, just as the experience gained at the range, will provide you a key ingredient of leadership–it will build your confidence.
Small goals build your confidence, teach you a sense of accomplishment, and polish you up for the bigger goals: By upholding the highest of standards and by
exercising skilled discipline and wise judgement, you ensure that your aim is accurate and that your rounds are on-target. In order to remain proficient, you must frequent the range and improve your technique. If you don’t, your skills will degrade. Hitting the bullseye once does not make you a sniper; just as one single school will not make you an
effective leader. Continue to get better everyday by always applying the fundamentals and ensuring the basics are covered. You cannot afford to regress.
As your marksmanship improves, remember the fundamentals of shooting: Always begin with the basics. In marksmanship, the basics are to breathe, concentrate,
aim, and never take your eyes off the target. Never get cocky as you improve. Just like marksmanship, remember the basics for good leadership. You must remain humble
throughout the process and be reasonable with setting goals. It takes time, patience, and dedication to be proficient. Do not give up when you miss the target or lose focus. Always have perseverance, dedication, and faith in your abilities.
On the subject of humility, do not ever think–or tell yourself–that you know everything: At the range there are always opportunities to improve. If you can hit the target in a fraction of a second from the five-meter line, then move back to the ten-meter line and work to achieve the same accuracy. Subsequently, when you perfect your skills at the ten-meter line, move to the twenty-meter line and start working on that goal. Perfection is a product of dedication and continuously challenging ourselves. I was
never a ‘know it all’. When I stepped on the range, I knew that in order to maximize my resources–bullets and range time–I had to pay close attention to detail. I always had
someone else there to acknowledge when I was on target; a range-master (mentor) always checking my shot placement.
We cannot accomplish this, or any feat alone: Choose your range-masters wisely. They must be people who are ‘straight-shooters’. They teach keeping control of the weapon (self-discipline), shooting technique (task accomplishment), and shot placement (goal accomplishment). They are there to assist when your weapon malfunctions (to overcome setbacks). They are the ones that candidly tell you when you miss, give you a sight correction, and be there to follow through when you fire your next round. They ensure you hit the target every time.
This is what I learned while trying to perfect my skills: (1) You must stop, listen, and ask questions from those who can make you better. (2) Do not waste bullets by talking the talk–firing up in the air–and never walking the walk. To talk without following up with actions is like shooting blank ammunition. You only make noise and there is no impact. (3) You never let frustration fog your lens–calmly wipe it while keeping your sights on target. (4) Lastly, never give up, stay until the job gets done, and utilize your skills and knowledge to make the next generation better.
In closing, make sure the weapon is ready to fire, that you have the ammunition required for the task, and always keep the target in your sights. I ask of you my fellow airmen, that when the opportunity presents itself, you put it in your crosshairs and drop it in its tracks.
The range is now yours. Continue to better yourselves and know that I will always be on the range with you, no matter the distance. It has been an absolute honor and a privilege serving with you. Now is our time to make a difference in our Air Force. Let’s get after it.
“Once a carnivore, always a carnivore”