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Finding himself in a commanding lead at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, American sharp shooter Matt Emmons stepped into position to fire his final shot in the 50 meter challenge. He didn’t even need a bull’s-eye to win his second gold medal; he only needed something close. He focused on staying calm, and then pulled the trigger.


That’s when he realized he should’ve focused on something else entirely.


23-year-old Matt Emmons was no stranger to pressure-packed situations. Earlier that same year, in a break between competitions, the young shooter discovered that someone had broken into the supposedly secure locker room and sabotaged his rifle barrel with a screwdriver. He was forced to borrow a rifle from a teammate…and went on to win.


So, when Emmons walked onto the course that fateful day, he did so with the confidence. After all, he’d already won one gold medal, had overcome sabotage to get to this point, and was holding what would normally be an insurmountable, 3-point lead. A modest shot of 8.0 points would have guaranteed him a second gold medal finish.    


Stepping into Firing Lane #2, he gazed at the target perched 50 meters (or 164 feet) away from him. At that distance, it’s difficult to even see the smaller-than-a-dime sized bull’s-eye, let alone hit it. So he focused on staying calm, and then fired his shot.


His bullet struck just outside the bull’s-eye, in what would prove to be a shot worth 8.1 points, more than enough to secure a gold medal.  


But the scoreboard didn’t register his shot.


Emmons motioned to officials that he thought something was wrong with the electronics; every once in a while, the system fails to recognize the shot.  


But the scoreboard hadn’t made the mistake; Emmons had.


After breaking their huddle, shooting officials announced that Emmons had accidentally “cross-fired” at the target in Firing Lane #3, the adjacent lane. They were forced to award him zero points in the round. Consequently, Emmons not only lost the gold medal, but completely dropped off the Olympic platform and into 8th place.  


“Cross-firing” is an extremely rare event in elite shooting competitions. It’s a lot less rare in real life.


People do it all the time…even when they’re not holding rifles. We hit our financial target, only to realize we missed our family target. We score a direct hit on our physical target, without even grazing our spiritual target.

But hitting the wrong bull’s-eye is just as bad as missing the target altogether. If this has happened to you, make the most of God’s grace and re-aim the right Target.  


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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)