Friday, May 4, 2012


I went to a Laser Tag session last night, for one reason and another. The boys were invited too. Everybody had a great time, but I noticed -- once again -- that I'm not shooting as accurately as I did on the one occasion I tried it out back around 1994, at somebody's birthday in Brisbane.

Halfway through the second game last night, I realised what was going on.

Back in 1994, I didn't really give a shit about guns. So I played one session, and by the third game, even though I was playing with some fairly experience folk, I was shooting up a storm. Yeeehaw!

Since then - well, yes, there's age to consider, of course. But the difference is greater than that, and it dawned on me about the twentieth time that somebody came round a corner and shot me before I could bring my laser gun quite into line.

The big difference is that in the intervening period, I went and got a gun license, and now I occasionally use a real gun quite seriously.

Everybody else in that Zone Three place was running around with their lasers pointing straight out in front of them. Me? Whenever I wasn't specifically shooting at someone, the gun was pointed down and away from my feet. And that meant whenever I had a surprise encounter, I had to whip the gun up and bring it to bear, and that made me slow, and inaccurate.

Interesting. I tried to remember to keep it levelled - but every time my concentration wavered, the gun would resolutely swing down again, into the safety zone. Had it been a 'real' evening, I wouldn't have shot anyone at all by accident in the course of the game... and that's great, from a 'being-safe-while-shooting-rabbits' perspective. Just not so good from a 'frag-hell-out-of-the-other-players' viewpoint.

Do I want to change that habit? Can I programme my brain to treat the laser gun - designed and weighted to look and act like a weapon - as a toy, while still keeping my ingrained safety practices with the real thing? Do I want to even take that risk?

I don't know. It's a really interesting question. It's also the main reason I never tried competition fighting back in Brisbane, under Mark Haseman. I trained with plenty of people who fought in competition, and it did look like fun, but at the back of my mind I was always aware that the habits you train into yourself for competition are not the same as the habits you need to keep yourself alive and healthy if things turn bad and you have to fight. There's a young man at my classes at the moment, for example. He has kickboxing behind him, and he likes sparring and competition. He's able, energetic and athletic, and he learns well - but every now and again I mention eye gouging, or biting, or tearing tendons or breaking bones and joints, and he gets kind of quiet and wide-eyed. It's a bit horrible from his viewpoint.

Weaknesses. One thing or another. It's a tough call, sometimes.

Writing, for example. I can be distractable. I need to get into the groove and really start rolling before the words flow. Otherwise I struggle, and things go slowly. I need to be inside the POV, understanding the action and the cadence and the pace. I can't dip in and out. If I get interrupted, things get really difficult.

But I'm a dad, too. And when my wife and my younger son fight like cats and dogs outside the door to my study, I find it impossible to ignore them. I love them both, and I literally cannot hear them squabbling without being pulled out of the place where I'm trying to go.

It's futile trying to write while they're both home at once, at least while they're in earshot.

Do I want to break that habit? Do I want to be able to ignore them while they snipe at each other? Is that right? Can I really call myself a father and a husband if I can learn not to hear the distress that my wife and child are causing each other?

I don't know. I do know I'm not getting this shit done.

I'm going to put my current workfile onto the little notebook machine. Then I'm going up the top shed. The keyboard is cramped, of course, and the shed is cold and dusty. But at least there, I won't be able to hear them.

They can fend for themselves for a while.


  1. Weapons, don't lose the safety habits, I would say. Spouses and offspring...well, they have to sort things out themselves sometimes. Even if it's not the way *you'd* sort things out. So git your writing done!

  2. Thanks, ma'am. That's about how I feel, to be honest.

  3. Yay! I've finally managed to wrangle Blogger into allowing me to comment again!

    Agree with Sue, the safety habit is a good one to have. As far as The Dr and Genghis.... never had that problem, being a single parent, but remember how badly my other half used to clash with his Dad when we were young. A little maturity on J's part eliminated the problem.

    As the old shampoo ad says "It may not happen overnight...."

    Good Luck!

  4. Believe me: I need it. But thank you. And I'm glad Blogger finally relinquished its deathgrip...

  5. I understand the ingrained habits of weapons handling - thanks to wearing too many uniforms and being paid to carry guns. Finger outside the trigger guard, point in safe direction etc.. But as I've also trained to point guns at people when circumstances dictate, I reckon I'd do just that in Lazer Skrimish, i.e. patrolling stance with weapon at the ready. I must take the lads to try that one day...

  6. You have the advantage of me there, Bondi. I have very carefully learned NOT to point guns at people. I suspect your patrolling stance would probably work out just fine.

  7. Oh don't get me wrong - I find it nearly impossible to point a firearm in an unsafe direction at other times! I started to teach my older three kids some things about guns recently and I was like a broken record 'safe direction!', 'finger OFF the trigger and outside the trigger guard!'.

  8. Actually, that's another point, isn't it? Every time that I stop shooting that stoopid laser gun at someone, not only does it swing down to a safe position, but my finger comes out of the trigger guard.

    No effing wonder I keep getting fragged.