Gabby Franco and Beth Beutler

Three Lessons I Learned about Excellence from Top Shot Star Gabby Franco

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Sometimes God drops unexpected, amazing experiences on us. Isn’t it fun to surprise someone? Well, I think He enjoys doing that for us, and I got one of my surprises in early February, 2014.

I have dabbled on and off in recent years with target shooting. I grew up in a home that had firearms and am married to an outdoorsmen. For some other relatives and friends/associates in my life, including law enforcement officers, guns are a common–and sometimes important–part of their daily lives. I have easy access to a shooting range. I’ve tried to learn more about the sport and being properly prepared for potential danger without being paranoid.

[callout]From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. Nehemiah 4:16-18, NIV[/callout]

Due to this, I became interested in watching the History Channel’s Top Shot show with my husband. It’s a shooting competition that eliminates participants until there is an overall winner. It’s an interesting show, and most of the cast members have been male.

There were, however, a few women who also competed, one of whom appeared in season four and was brought back for the All-Star season in 2013. Gabby Franco, who competed in the Sydney Olympics and has won a number of awards in other competitions, was the first woman on the show to make it to the round where the two teams combined after several contestants were eliminated. She earned respect from the cast members while retaining a pleasant, feminine personality.

Fast forward to February, 2014. I found out Gabby was coming to town for a meet and greet and to offer some lessons at Sharpshooters. Due to some last-minute changes to the schedule, I ended up in a two-hour range class with her, the local instructor, and get this–only ONE other student. So I essentially had a semi-private lesson, where she hands on guided me to making improvements as I participated in drills! It was almost surreal to realize I was getting instructed by someone with such a solid and recognized gift. It was amazing. Plus we had a nice conversation for awhile after the class–she’s down to earth and had written a book like I had (see below) so we had a couple of things in common.

On the way home, I already had a blog post forming in my head about how the lessons I learned in class tied in with living and working with excellence. So here are three things I learned about excellence from Gabby Franco:

Get a Grip
One of the most important fundamentals of shooting is learning how to have the right grip. The right grip helps you set up a successful shot, it helps you control your weapon and helps with your confidence. Over and over Gabby reminded me of weak areas in my grip–I was too tense with one hand, and too relaxed with the other.

To live an excellent life, it’s important to have a good grip. I should be holding tightly to God and His Word, while also relaxing and leaning into Him and what He is doing in my life.

Set Your Sights
Most guns have sights to help you line up with the target. Gabby pointed out that often, people concentrate on the target up ahead, and not on lining up the sights right in front of them. It is important to know your target and what is beyond it. But once you have that big picture in mind, your accuracy will come from dealing with the thing right in front of you correctly. You almost want the target to become blurry in favor of clearly aligning your sights (being sure, of course, that you are still directed to the spot on the target for which you are aiming.)

The same applies in life. It is important to see the big picture and know what you are shooting for (forgive the pun.) But if you don’t align your daily priorities with that goal, and focus on one step, one day at a time, even one task at a time, you’ll have less success staying focused and hitting your mark.

Speed is Important, But Accuracy is What Wins

One of my targets from some recreational shooting.
One of my targets from some recreational shooting.

In a self-defense situation, speed is vital. That comes with effective practice. But in shooting, especially competitive shooting, if you don’t hit the target, you don’t get the points no matter how fast you are. Sometimes people shoot fast and furious, hoping to hit several plates. But a marksman who slows down just a bit and one by one breaks the plates, can often win the match over someone who shoots faster.

In life and work, we must find the right speed while focusing on truth and accuracy. I’m not suggesting perfection. I don’t always hit a bullseye, but I do okay staying in a relatively specified area of the target, so I experience some success in my (non-competitive) target shooting. Excellence doesn’t mean perfection. In a match, a broken plate is a broken plate, even if it wasn’t hit in the exact center. However, going too fast can mean you miss the target altogether and there no point in that! It’s important to keep our projects moving along, and not let them sit around because they aren’t perfect, but also to go slowly enough to produce excellent work.

I learned a few more things, such as the importance of a coach, the value of practice, the wisdom of staying alert and safety conscious, and the discipline of overcoming fear. Perhaps I’ll expound on those at another time.

For now, to quote another Top Shot star, season 3 Champion Dustin Ellerman:


Pray hard. Shoot straight.


I’ve added Gabby’s book, Troubleshooting: Mastering Your Pistol Marksmanship, to my Amazon store on the blog. When you stop at my blog before shopping at Amazon, you help the site and I thank you!



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