Kirsten Joy Weiss ready for takeoff (courtesy Steve Wolf for The Truth About Guns)

“Don’t be scared of hanging out of the helicopter to get a better shot, you’ll have a harness.” the helicopter pilot over the blades whipping above us. “You mean this?” I held up a floppy black seatbelt, looking no more secure than the belts in the old Jetta I hoped to blow up. Well, here we goI shrugged my shoulders internally, and locked into go mode . . .

There wasn’t a choice of whether I would accomplish the shot or not, there was simply shooting.

It didn’t matter that this was the second time I’d been up in a helicopter in my entire life, the first being a tour over the Grand Canyon with my mom and dad when I was just a tiny Weiss. It didn’t matter that in order to get a good shot on the car, I had to hang my body and my left leg out of the door, high above the solid ground. It didn’t matter that a bunch of people below were watching me, waiting for the outcome. It didn’t matter that my hands first touched the SCAR rifle only 45 minutes before. It didn’t matter that worry filled the helicopter pilot’s eyes as he asked, “You’re gonna use a scope?” and when I nodded my head yes, he said, “well, that’s going to make it a lot harder.”

No. None of that mattered. Correction. None of that could matter. That’s all clutter in the mind, distracting from the shot. All that matters is the shot itself. The gun in my shoulder,  aiming, the recoil, the follow through.

Same thing in life. We have so much clutter filling our minds if we let it. Worry of what could have been, what we should have done, what we should’ve said, or what we wished we had known. Then we bounce over to the future. We worry about how all the things we think could’ve been better, might mess up our future moments — or worse — our whole life path.

Kirsten Joy Weiss mit SCAR in a Robinson helicopter (courtesy Steve Wolf for The Truth About Guns)

STOP.

Focus, my friend.

Center on this moment. Play the cards that are dealt, and play them the best you can. That’s all you have control over. Keep your thoughts wrapped in the task at hand, with the tools in hand. Give yourself grace.

Back in the ‘copter, for a split second my mind rushed as I saw how tiny the car actually looked from way above, and the fact that the roof was my only target. The explosives technician rigged the roof with a strike plate. Hit it and it would blow. My scope picture danced and bounced all around the target, subject to the movement of the ‘copter. It was like being in rough and stormy seas and trying to keep your eye on a tiny life preserver in the distance flowing in and out of the frothing waves.

And then. Everything quieted.

Be it determination or a tiny clearing amongst the clouds of the mind, in that moment none of the challenges surrounding me mattered. I sent a shot, and in that split second as the flames began billowing around the Jetta from the first shot, I didn’t believe it. How could I possibly have gotten a shot like that off on the first shot? Before the flames reached their half way point or the success registered fully, my second shot sped through the bubbling fire as the black smoke greeted the azure sky.

Kirsten Joy Weiss (courtesy Steve Wolf for The Truth About Guns)

Now, my friend, that whole video shoot was a learning experience. Usually I do things on my own (as you can probably tell). There were many more players for this one. So many things could’ve gone wrong, and did go wrong. Just one example, the MK116 rifle arrived for the first time in my grip shortly before I shot the RC car. I didn’t have a way to sight it in properly, so I had to aim a foot above the twirling little bugger, to even hit it. This of course meant my sites obscured the view of the RC. But, I didn’t have a choice. Correction. I didn’t allow myself a choice. Alternative choices to what you really want, contributes to more mind clutter. I simply had to work with what I was given for those moments, and not fret about the outcome.

There’s always a good possibility we will fail. We’re human. But we don’t actually fail if we max out the potential of the moment we have, and the tools we’re given for it. What’s happened and what will happen, is not in our control. Let that sink in. Outcome is not in our control.

Give up control of the moments surrounding the moment you grasp now, Sharp Shots. You may fail, but you may succeed. Forget the outcome. All that matters is this present moment. Work with what you’ve got starting right… … … NOW.

Click here for the Kirsten Joy Weiss’ TTAG-produced helicopter performance shot video.
Read more or KJW’s words of wisdom and see her performance shots at KirstenJoyWeiss.com

58 Responses to The Joy of Shooting From a Helicopter

    • I was thinking “Tomb Raider”.

      My wife can never see this. She’d want to try it, and I can’t afford to pay for the flight time.

      • If you can talk Larry Correia into allowing someone loose with the movie rights to his MHI books, I think we’d have a winner.

  1. I almost commented on the “leaning against the harness” back when the first video posted. I wondered how you felt about that.

    The answer is that it bothered you, until it didn’t. Focus.

    Very cool writing. Thanks.

  2. Good shot. Although I kind of miss Leonard Embody right now.

    KJW shots just aren’t the same without his misogynist insults fueling our rage.

    • What I was thinking. Firing an M60 out the door of a Huey was fun. Until it wasn’t. They say 10% of the crew chiefs (my MOS) were killed during that war. Pilots, co-pilots, and door-gunners, too. I still think about them that are gone.

    • I always told my soldiers that being seen / located is the first step in the dying process. Of course, that’s the problem with being in a slow-moving helicopter – you are always going to be spotted first, and surprise is never on your side.

  3. I was once asked by a salesman, “What is it in life you want to do the most?”

    I quickly replied, “Go full auto on some wild pigs from helicopter with a high powered rifle…”

    All I got back was a blank stare and some blinks, not one of the practiced responses, I guess.

    • Can’t blame a man for setting some goals.

      Thanks for the laugh. That right there is some funny stuff.

      I, too, want to… uh… go full auto on some pigs. From a helicopter….

      I can’t stop smiling.

  4. Kirsten, I like showing your videos to my seven year old daughter. I hope someday she can have the same ability to focus combined with joy that you have.

    I haven’t taken her shooting yet, but she told me she wants a rifle small enough for her and pink.

    • That’s great! I can’t recommend anything yet, to be honest. The youth models for rifles I’ve seen so far are seriously lacking. But depending on her length of pull (which I assume is tiny) the Savage youth model *might* be okay. At least the accutrigger is an interesting concept to lead to competition triggers. One of my goals this year is to figure out an affordable, quality youth model rifle for some of my tiny shooter followers 😉 [and a long range model for the bigger ones! haha] Thanks

  5. Great writing Ms. Weiss.

    I like the focus that rifle shooting gets me into.
    Can’t wait for tomorrow. Going to get some thousand yard plinking in.

  6. And why!! It’s expensive enough to build and shoot firearms and there isn’t many of you that will be able to engage in this…ever! Very F’n few of you at that!

    God damn….as if anyone would even consider shooting animals for the sake of a bigger penis….or whatever….I swear this frenzy has gone fuck’n nuts.

      • It’s “What”…..not “wat”…..if you cannot see the issue here is…..and if you cannot spell…look into a mirror for the answer to your wat!

        Why must shooters feel the need to be wannabe warriors?! Why is war so god damned glorified….and damned be to anyone…anyone…that believes that so-called hunting from a fuck’n helicopter is fair chase and ethical….PERIOD!!

        • Ah. Now I understand your malfunction. I’m not sure why you’re so inflamed about it, but I understand where it’s coming from.

          You need to understand that the wild hogs that people are speaking of above are an invasive species. They are a pest. “Fair chase” and “ethical” are standards that do not apply here. They need to be eradicated, because they tear up crops (and lawns in the fringes of suburbia) and they breed at an alarming rate. Many states have no bag limit, no rules, no restrictions on hunting them save that you must have the permission of the owner of any private property where you’re doing it.

          Look here to see a bunch of photos of what these obnoxious creatures do, and keep in mind that any damage you see was likely done in the course of a single night. I once saw a video about hog hunting in Georgia where a peanut farmer lost 15 acres of peanuts out of a 100 acre field in one night.

          Do you understand now?

        • Matt, thanks for many accurate, informative posts. Now you have to show off that you’re a zeitgeist guru. Good job.

        • Mr. Bibb, please relax your writing. That’s not how we discuss issues here. And please don’t stereotype.
          – I am a “shooter” if that’s what you want to call me. It is a skill which allows me to focus and constantly improve, which provides enjoyment. I am not a “wannabe”(sic) warrior. I am very much an average person.

          – I am also a soldier who has served in our most recent wars. Believe me, war is not “glorified” in my world. I prefer not to even discuss it.

          – I also prefer not to kill, I do not hunt for sport, but if I needed to survive I would not hesitate.

          – I also carry a concealed firearm everyday (where legal to do so). I sincerely hope to never have to use it, but again, I would not hesitate.

          – Pest eradication is a necessary evil created by the overpopulation of the human species. From bugs to vermin, seals to wild hogs, it’s a sad fact. Matt has demonstrated that.

          – I am at peace with myself and the world I live in.

          ARE YOU?

    • Hi Curt, you do know that it was just a car and not any animals? And there’s no glorification of war here. Maybe pyrotechnics. Yes pyrotechnics from safe distances and marksmanship. Yes, Pyrotechnics, marksmanship, and fun. Because let’s face it, shooting is fun. And just like a chef uses knives as a tool for his craft, I use guns as a tool for mine. Tools in the right hands are just tools. I can only assume that you understand, as you seem to be a reader of TTAG so probably own a gun…? If not, remedy that quick and go shoot some targets to see for yourself!

  7. I flew just over 800 sorties as a UH-1C helicopter gunship crew chief/door gunner in 32 months in Vietnam. Great times and I looked really cool doing it (and 100 being lbs lighter had nothing to do with it) but nowhere near as classy as Ms. Weiss.

    You go girl!

      • Shhhh. That’s up to a mental health professional to decide, and possibly assist in removing his 2A rights! Although being a mental health worker I see both sides of the coin,but I like RF’s thoughts on that “if your safe enough to be in society, you should be safe enough to exercise your rights”.

  8. Great piece. You show an understanding of self that only comes with lots of years for most of us. I applaud the depth of your maturity and your knowledge of what it takes to make a difference,

    Congratulations!

  9. While backtracking to the first photo to see whether Ms. Weiss was firing the 16S or 17S SCAR variant, I was shocked to see that her rifle was being supplied by some sort of tube feeding mechanism! Preposterous!

    And then I realized I was looking at her finely sculpted leg. Man, optical illusions.

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