The Everyday Marksman

The Everyday Marksman

Sharpening the Edge: There's Value in Competition

April 02, 2020

The theme of the month within the Everyday Marksman community is, "Sharpening the Edge." I gave a short explanation of what I meant by that within the community itself, but I wanted to expand on some of my thoughts with a dedicated podcast episode. The simple truth is that this applies to you whether you're a member of our little posse or not.

Before I get going, I'll throw a quick hat tip to the work of Brett and Kate McKay at The Art of Manliness for assembling a lot of these resources together. I've followed their work for years, and it's been a true inspiration.
Related Links

* Russ Miller in Episode 8
* Jeff Gurwitch in Episode 24
* Mike Keenan in Episode 26
* The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
* Social Facilitation and Norman Triplett

Episode Summary
Life is full of competition. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, all of life is a giant competition for resources and reproduction. Entire species either prosper or go extinct on the macro level due to their collective abilities to compete in an ever-changing environment.

Nations, businesses, and people operate in a similar way. And so should you.

When I was in the military, my entire career felt like one long continuous competition with my peers. We, quite literally, competing over diminishing spots and opportunities to progress. The point spread between "winners" and "losers" was very narrow.

You could say that I have a love/hate relationship with competition. While I fully realize that a lot of the skills that I talk about here at The Everyday Marksman are individually-focused, I also realize that there's a lot to be said about working within a group.

So what does working well with groups have to do with competition? Well, in a way...everything.

In any given moment, a man’s growth is optimized if he leans just beyond his edge, his capacity, his fear. He should not be too lazy, happily stagnating in the zone of security and comfort. Nor should he push far beyond his edge, stressing himself unnecessarily, unable to metabolize his experience. He should lean just slightly beyond the edge of fear and discomfort. Constantly. In everything he does.

David Deida

At its heart, participation in a competition is a form of teamwork. Think about it, good sportsmanship means agreeing to follow a set of rules and then having the honor to obey those rules together.

I can hear the internet commandos already, though. "If you ain't cheating in a gunfight then you ain't trying to win."

Fair got me there.

But we aren't in a gunfight every day. And the scientific truth is that competition makes us better. Going back more than 100 years, study after study shows that performing a task in front of an audience improves personal performance. Performing a task in the same location as someone else doing the same thing even more so.

I notice this myself when I go to the gym. If it's empty and I'm the only one around, I'll do OK. But as soon as I know someone else in also in the weight room lifting, and maybe even doing the same exercises I am, then I work just a little bit harder.

Of course,