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The Most Valuable Lesson I Learned In The SEAL Teams- I Learned From A Rocket Scientist Red-Neck

One of the things that separate the SEALs from other units is that we are continually redesigning our training curriculum based off of lessons learned and advances in technologies. This is to say, over a 20-year career, it is common to go through our core skills training blocks over 10 times each. This includes our course of instruction on shooting and marksmanship. Shooting is what it is. 7 Points Of Performance.

(Side Note)

  1. Breathing

  2. Body Position

  3. Grip

  4. Sight Alignment

  5. Sight Picture

  6. Trigger Squeeze

  7. Second Sight Picture

If you master these points and apply them to each shot, you will always hit your target. However, there are always little tweaks that can be developed within these points of performance that can elevate the accuracy and speed of a shooter.

Invariably, every time we returned to our shooting school, our instructors always had a new tweak for us to master to enhance our skills. Often times, these tweaks were met with some hesitation. Guys were just comfortable with their normal techniques of shooting and they shot well- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

To be clear, our instructors were NOT SEALS. They were two red-necks from Mississippi-

(Second Side Note):

One a Rocket a Scientist (Rodney), and the other, an engineer (Ross)

All these guys did was shoot. All the training and education they received attaining their respective degrees, was thrown out the window so they could help us become better shooters. They sported their Real Tree digs, had deep southern twangs, and always maintained about an ounce of Copenhagen in their bottom lip. While we were driving, diving, patrolling, rappelling, fast-roping, navigating over water and land, creating power points, attending meetings, and completing our big navy training, they were shooting- The Whole Time. So, 300 days a year, these guys were continuing to perfect their craft- for us.

The brutal truth is, these two guys simply shot better than 90% of us. Period. They didn’t have to worry about Excel spread sheets. The rifle/pistol range was their laboratory.

Ok- On to the greatest lessons I learned in the Teams- From a Rocket Scientist Red-Neck. It was my third or fourth return trip to our shooting school and as expected, there was a new habit to incorporate. As expected, there was resistance and silent dissent. Upon recognizing the situation, Rodney said this:

“I challenge you to MASTER the skills we have been developing for you before you decide whether or not it works.” He went on to explain that there is no way a person can tell- one way or another- if these new techniques are of any value if you don’t take them seriously and explore their benefits to the fullest extent.

Over time, I have seen this in MANY instances in my life whether it be in the SEAL Teams, at home as a parent, or in a classroom or dojo. If you are great at something. Congratulations. You can get better. If a new skill or lesson is presented to you by someone who deserves and has earned your respect, accept what they are trying to give you and MASTER it. Become the best at applying that new skill. Once you HAVE mastered it, one of two things will happen:

  1. You will find that they are right and you will have gotten better by applying the lesson.

  2. You will find that it did not work for you and you will have gotten better because you will inherently discover that it didn’t work and more importantly- WHY it didn’t work and you can make your own adjustments.

Either way- you WILL get better.

Bottom line is-

Stay humble, Keep an open mind, Relentlessly strive to improve yourself. You will ALWAYS out-perform those that can’t- or Won’t. 

AND Red-Necks can be rocket scientists too!


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