In 1985, at the age of 8, I met one of the ‘coolest’ teachers in the entire world, or at least my elementary school: Mrs. Keen. There was nothing entirely special about her outside appearance. She was in her late 50’s at the time, and we quickly discovered we had one amazing thing in common: we both loved chocolate! She left me with so many nuggets of life lessons at an impressionable age. Who knew my growth and development as a shooter would start 32 years ago in 2nd grade?
Her classroom was filled with games, and we played every day. At least this is what we were lead to think. I remember a seemingly crude homemade game constructed of door bells and lights that transformed our classroom into a full blown of game of Jeopardy, the only thing missing was Alex Trebek. The questions were both out of our text books as well as current events.
She would track our progress for every subject and make sure we were on track for the content of the week/month/year. It was a simplistic poster board with every students name and we literally earned ‘gold stars’ when we accomplished our academic goals. I did not know what she was really doing until a Masters level class I was taking around leadership, and we were discussing SMART goals:
My chocolate loving teacher was teaching me how to learn and improve for the rest of my life.
When I made the decision I wanted to take shooting Steel Challenge serious, I created a spreadsheet with divisions, stages, and tracked times. These times were from matches I shot and the time of every string fired. I then created goals of 20% reduction in every single division and time per stage. This was a Specific goal. I measured the times and calculated the 20% reduction which was Realistic. I set a goal to achieve this reduction which was timed for 6 months. The Action that I took was to buy a set of steel and practice every stage.
Even though I didn’t get a gold star, I was able to reduce my total time across the board in 3 months through consistency. This process made me analyze each stage. Through some video analysis, I could see where I was making mistakes and what I needed to work on when I missed targets. The first glaring issue was my first shot. I was able to cut my first shot in Smoke and Hope from .80 to .40 seconds or under. On one stage this was 20% by itself. I then progressed to making my hits. I would always miss target number three on Accelerator. Slowing down and truly seeing my sight on this plate cut my time on this stage by 20%. This made me realize it was important to not shoot every shot on each stage at the same speed. Each target was different.
Who knew my 2nd grade teacher would teach me how to be a SMART shooter? I certainly didn’t. There are so many lessons around us, we just have to stop and pay attention.
Until next time, see you out on the range soon!