2001-08 Viewing change in your shooting

When you teach and coach the number of people we do, you begin to see some obvious performance trends, and attitudes in shooters of different abilities. One such trend is how people view change. Several times over the past months, we have seen this phrase used in advertisements and flyers soliciting students for shooting instruction–

“He will work with what you are doing and not change you and make you better.”

Now let’s look at what was actually said in this statement. This statement implies that regardless of what you are doing it is correct and you won’t have to change anything to get better. That being the case, what are you paying the instructor for? Seems to us that if everything you are doing is correct, all you need to do is copious amounts of it and you should be winning major tournaments in no time. NOT!

This ‘no change’ thing is an interesting concept to us. Regardless of who we study or study with, the one common denominator that all successful people have, regardless of skill, is their Acceptance of Change. In fact they are eager to try new things and are never afraid to fail. Their motto seems to be if it ain’t broke, brake it so you can make it better.

People who shoot Sporting can easily be divided into 3 categories. Beginner (58.5 average), intermediate (78.5 average) and advanced (87.5 average). How a person views change can and will totally determine how long a person spends in each category. This in turn, determines how quickly a shooter improves and the level of the shooters potential. In the following paragraphs we will describe each category and how they view change and how it affects progress and improvement. The following is not a “writers interpretation of what he/she thinks goes on.” It is, however, a coaches’ view of what we see actually happens to actual shooters. Some of our answers may surprise you. They are however, actual observations of not only the successes and failures of our students, but also the observation of hundreds of frustrated shooters from all over the world.

The beginner is excited about change. The whole concept of shotgunning is fascinating to them. They read everything they can get their hands on. They listen to anyone, especially the ones who can break more clays than they can. (“You know, the guy in the boat that catches the most fish is automatically the expert” theory.) They accept change and they improve. It is important to note that the acceptance of change came from the confusion and frustration caused by the failure of trying to self coach.

The advanced shooter is also excited about change–at least, the smart ones are. They have become advanced through recognizing a plateau in performance and immediately looked for what needed to change to improve. They realize that change is the natural evolution of improvement. They also realize that great shots are not necessarily the best people to seek advice from. They realize that great shots can certainly show you how they break a certain target, and you might or might not be able to do it the way they do it. The advanced shooter, however, realizes that if they go to someone who deals in change every day–an experienced coach–that whatever change is made will optimize their efforts. Because the change will be based on sound fundamental principals of performance and will also take into consideration the commitment of the shooter with respect to their long and short term goals. Every advanced shooter knows that a coach cannot make them great. It is their attitude and commitment to seek excellence that determines how great they will be. The smart ones know an experienced professional coach can shorten dramatically the amount of time it takes to get to the top and also how long they stay there.

Now lets look at the shooter that is most reluctant to change and why—the intermediate shooter. This is the person who shoots an occasional 80-82 after he has shot the course 4 or 5 times. On tournament day he typically shoots his average 78.5%. If however, they ever go some where else to shoot a tournament or even shoot a major event at their own club, he/she shoots 68-72%. They have gotten this far self coaching, surely they can figure out how to get better. Nothing changes for a year. No matter how many videos they watch, how may articles they read or how much they practice, they have run into an invisible brick wall. They fail to realize that it is the inconsistency of their move that is the problem. Frustration and confusion grow due to the inability to self coach any improvement.

What do they do? Buy a fluorescent bead site to check the preciseness of the lead–that doesn’t work. Start shooting with the gun mounted because their gun mount is sloppy–that doesn’t work. Buy faster ammunition so they wonÍt have to see as much lead–that doesn’t work. Install a moveable cheek piece and butt plate on their stock so they can make sure their gun fits perfectly–halfway through this experiment they realize they know much less about gun fit than they thought and it costs them an extra $300.00 just to have a competent person set up the adjustments properly. Once it is adjusted properly, they are shocked to realize that the stock is exactly where it was before they installed the moveable cheek piece and butt plate. They fail to realize the principal that a bad habit regardless of how good it feels is still a bad habit. They have gotten comfortable with their bad habits and are afraid to change Their ego has over shadowed the fact that when they were confused in the beginning and were shooting 50 they went to a coach and with 2-3 months were in the high 60′s which is where they have been for 1-2 years. They want to go take a lesson, but donÍt want to change. They just want a couple of tips to get into the mid 80′s consistently doing what they are doing. Little do they know that the reason their scores are what they are is because of what they are doing! The only way to change the result is to change the action. With change comes first failure and out of failure comes success.

The reason so many people are stuck in the intermediate category is they don’t understand the basic principal of improved performance:

No improvement happens without change. For every change there is a price to pay. The value is in the commitment.