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Got plans?

I was on the shooting range last week and did some light competing with a buddy. We used a timer, and the pressure was on to get the hits in time.

I drew my gun, raised it towards the target, began taking slack out of the trigger, aligned the red dot optic on target, and pulled the trigger all the way… Click. Nothing. No bang!


When your actions don’t go as planned, are you ready with a backup? And not only a plan B – what happens if that fails? – but a whole series of immediate actions in a series.

Here’s how I plan for action, remedial actions, and emergencies… I use the acronym PACE to make sure I think through stages of failure, and what steps to take in case they actually materialize.

P – Primary – your main plan, the one you want to happen. No drama; everything goes as planned. I try to live here most of the time… Drive to work as usual, for example.

A – Alternate – this is your plan B, your secondary, “Oh, that didn’t work, so we’re doing this instead…” This is mandatory. You have to have alternate plans. Road blocked? What’s the next best route? Turn left instead of right, circle the block, try another angle.

C – Contingency – what do you do when your alternate plans don’t run? You keep this set of plans in your back pocket for when the going gets tough. Maybe a whole different method? A different team? You work from home, maybe, cause all the roads are bad?

E – Emergency – this is the last resort, call in the Cavalry, and get some help to save something bad from happening. You’re upside down in a ditch. So what do you do? You grab your go-bag, dig yourself out, and make it back home safely. No work today.

So, click, and no bang. Easy!

Rack the slide, load a round (which I had forgotten), trigger slack, full squeeze, boom, boom, recover. Less than a second for that to happen. On the range, we call this remedial action… and it’s the alternative to a ‘no bang’.

Because there was a plan. I knew what to do.

What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t have an alternate plan, and you freeze. 

And heaven help you if you haven’t even thought about potential power outages this weekend (-2F air temps), stocked up on food for the holidays, or filled your gas tank. It’s too late now…

One more thing. Have you reviewed your PACE with the team around you?

“Here’s what we’ll do when this happens, and if this happens, we’re taking this action.”

Then, when you’re trending towards emergency, you can calmly follow your plans and execute them safely.

Spend some time planning your life, and stay safe out there.