The Empowered Spouses Retreat, gifted to me by the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, left me feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and empowered.
Taya Kyle designed these retreats to help military and first responder spouses feel empowered in a variety of ways. The sessions we participated in gave us tools to take back home to combat stress, irritation, and burn-out. One of the ladies even got a tattoo after she returned, marking permanently on her outside how she grew on the inside.
Taya wishes she had spent more time with her husband, Chris, before he was killed doing the things he loved, and she remembers that learning from her husband wasn’t necessarily the easiest task. It helps if you can learn from a person who is specifically geared toward training.
Two of these activities include shooting a rifle and a bow and arrow.
After being trained on a digital range we were taken to the “real” range. The first time I shot I hit absolutely nothing. The kick-back was stronger than I anticipated and my arms were tired from holding the firearm. There was a cold side and a hot side of the range: while we were “on deck” (the cold side) we were practicing our aim and by the time I got to the “hot” side my arms were so tired I could barely hold the firearm steady.
I’d call “pull” and hit blue sky every. single. time.
When my turn was over I went back to the bleachers to sit and wait for the other ladies to have their turns. Some surprised themselves at how many clays they hit. I sat there in a sullen mood, disappointed in myself. I really anticipated doing well; possibly even hitting 50% of my clays.
I desperately wanted another turn so when they asked if anyone else wanted to try again, I was one of the handful of ladies who did.
This time I was determined to pay more attention to my breathing. There were fewer ladies watching (many were freezing and went back to the lodge to sit by the fire). I determined that I would not allow myself to feel rushed and I used the smaller of the two rifles.
I hit nothing.
I did notice a marked improvement in my stance and I learned a bit more how to calm my breathing. The instructors were very kind and patient and said that they could tell I was getting very close to the clay. (There were “tracers” that came out of the shotgun.)
I left disappointed that I hit nothing but glad that I had tried a second time.
One of our activities in the group session later on that day was to focus on what was going on in all five senses. I jotted all my notes down on the experience using the techniques Corie had taught us and I got to the most amazing nugget of truth…
I am enough even though I hit NOTHING.
My worth as a person is not at all tied to my performance on the shooting range or anywhere else. My worth was determined in the beginning… I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I was totally amazed that my failure on a shooting range could lead me to an even deeper understanding of the scripture He had led me to that weekend. So. Amazing.
It is empowering to know I am who I am supposed to be.
The next day our challenge task was shooting a bow and arrow.
It turns out that the previous day I had been marked as right-eye dominant and shot that way. On this day I was marked left-eye dominant from the start. I asked them to check again and, sure enough, I am left-eye dominant. I have to wonder if I would have done better on the shotgun range had I been shooting left-eye…
I did much better on this task. I got over 50% of my hits on the target and many of those in kill zones. We took our newfound skills to a 3D range and I enjoyed that, though I think I preferred the targets.
I learned that I hyperextend my arm when shooting and need to hold the bow in a wonky-feeling grasp to avoid bruising my arm:
This next picture is sort of embarrassing because it’s not a very flattering expression, but it makes me laugh so I’ll share it. I had released and I can only guess that this was a time I didn’t hit where I was aiming. Either that or I had hit my arm again, leading to the bruising you’ll see in a later picture.
My hit was the green arrow in the third circle, not the blue one in the dead center. I had the instructor point it out for me while I took a picture. I was pleased!
Tackling these activities really did empower me. I really think it would be fun to have a set of bows and a LOT of arrows for our family to shoot. I believe I’d purchase the arm gear to protect my arm, though!
This is the end of this series, but the impact of the weekend will last indefinitely. It is a treasured time, indeed.