Setting goals and creating realistic expectations are useful if the athlete uses them wisely. Far too many people under estimate the amount of time, effort and expenses that are required to reach the highest levels of shooting sports. Just like every sport, athletes improve their skills based on the amount effort they make. If you want to be the occasional weekend golfer, practicing a few times a month allows you to compete at levels with other golfers of the same level of effort. However, if you want to play football or be in the marching band and make the “A” team, you must apply a significant amount of effort over a long period of time to improve your skills to achieve that level of success. If you are just starting out in a new sport and dream of making the “A” team, you must goal set and have a realistic expectation of success and understand the failures you are going to face during this journey.
I am becoming concerned that some of our athletes are reluctant to compete in the Youth Target Foundation Tournaments because they are worried they might not score well. We are on a journey of learning, building skills and accomplishment. There is always someone that is richer or poorer, more handsome or not as handsome, throw a ball farther or not as far, faster or slower and a better shooter or worse shooter. Attending and competing in “Youth” tournaments is a process (fundamentals, mental preparation, quality practice, gun mount, working out and personal educating of the game) of the journey to improve your personal outcome (score). YTF and Open Shooting Tournaments have a handicap system, so like ability shooters are competing against each other, but they also have the chance of being HOA or High Over All. The experience of competing in a tournament is an important part of the process of improving your skills, so you are preparing yourself for all aspects of this sport.
No one can provide you an amount of time and or effort you must give to achieve accomplishment in any sport because every individual athlete is different. There are steps and actions you can take to accelerate your success.
· Private Coaching Lessons – I think is the single most inexpensive way to improve your skills by learning specialized techniques, understanding your personal strengths and weaknesses and obtaining perspectives of the game from a knowledgeable coach. A one hour private session is worth 20-50 hours of individual practice and trying to learn all this on your own. In most cases you have to have someone with experience to provide you knowledge that may not be available to gain by just practicing on your own or with others of like ability. Private coaching lessons cost from $75-200 per hour plus range fees.
· Clinics – Is the next inexpensive way to improve your skills, but this is in a group setting. You will not get all of the attention because you will be working in a group, but many times you gain just from watching and listening to other shooters. Many times other shooters face different challenges than you, but at some point in the sport you may face the same challenge and already know how to handle it from watching others. I like clinics in addition to private lessons because of this. Many times accomplished championship shooters travel into areas and host clinics, so take the opportunity when can to attend one of these.
· Books and Video – There are so many good books, DVDs and information on YouTube for all levels of shooters to learn from. These are also great to occasionally refresh yourself when being challenged by certain issues. They can also be shared with others and viewed at your leisure. Sporting Clay, Skeet Shooting and Trap Shooting magazines have great articles and interviews of the champions for all to learn about. So many great articles are in the magazines that can help you.
· Practice, Practice, Practice – Lessons, Books and DVDs are great, but must be followed up by practice at home (homework) mounting the gun, swinging the gun, moving the gun to points and actual range shooting. Beginning shooters (E – D Class) will improve to a point with weekly practice and minimum home work. Intermediate shooters (C – B Class) will improve if they are practicing 1-3 times per week and doing extra homework. Advanced shooters (A – AA Class) will improve only if they are practicing 2-4 times per week and they do a lot of homework. They will listen to book tapes driving, watch DVDs, read, discuss the game with other shooters to gain everything they can to improve their game. Master Class shooters work on their skills numerous times a week and work tirelessly to stay atop and to win HOA at any event they compete in.
· Mental Work – This is the most ignored, but maybe the most important part of the game. I recommend spending time working on your mental skills each week. There are mental coaches, clinics and DVD’s that can help you understand and learn this part of the game. So many athletes do not achieve their outcome goal because they ignore the mental part of the game or do not understand the benefit.
The choice is of the individual athlete to decide what level of shooter he or she wants to be. Some of you might enjoy just shooting and competing on an average level and that is ok. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishment, compete and do your best. Then there are you that want to be the best, you are the challenged one that does not enjoy just competing and socializing at the events, you want it all. Prepare yourself now for a lot of hard work and more so, failure. If you can’t handle being second then be prepared to learn how to pick yourself up when you fall and train yourself to get back on course to be first.
*Rick Collin is both a National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association Certified Instructor; and has graciously offered to provide private coaching to our team. He is going to offer a discounted rate for Southlake athletes of $100.00 per hour and donate a portion back to our club. Rick is also a retired university Professor and knows how to instruct. He has years of experience on and off the field that can benefit all of you. I recommend booking a session with him and spend some one on one time with Rick. He is a good person and quality shooting instructor. firstname.lastname@example.org or 469.569.6566
*Attend one of YTF’s clinics with shooting instructors that they offer. There are others as well posted in the magazines or at gun ranges.
*Mental Management Systems (Lanny Bassham) out of Flower Mound has a great program. Lanny is a past US Olympic Gold Medalist Rifle Shooter that was tired of being second and decided he was going to discover how to improve his game by working on the mental side to become the best. While improving himself he developed a program he now teaches. This program is taught to shooters, business leaders, golfers etc. His program is a positive approach that will help you at your game as well as life. email@example.com, www.mentalmanagement.com, Mental Management Team 700 Parker Square, Ste. 140, Flower Mound, TX 75028, 972-899-9640
Practice as much as you can and compete in the events, but most of all be proud of what you have accomplished in this short period. Every team member has improved since we started. Every one of you is part of our successful program and we need you to participate for the Dragon Nation. You just never know when that day is going to happen that you see the targets well, the gun moves quick, the shot hits the target better than ever for you and your score is the HOA.