I have been going through a lot of mental “ups and downs” with my shooting the last twelve months. There was a constant tug of my shooting life and my personal life. The nearest range was only 20 minutes away, but by the time I packed up my targets, drove there, setup the stage I wanted to practice, I would only shoot for an hour and then I would break down the stage, drive home, and put everything away. This 20 minute trip each way for an hour practice session would somehow turn into a three to four hour excursion. Instead of making these trips to the range I would go to matches to ‘practice’. I would be gone for 2-3 weekend days a month and when going to a match I could rarely go, shoot, and be home in 5 hours. Some ‘local’ matches were upwards of 2 hours away. Outside of the expense of shooting, the time was becoming more important of a commodity as my wife and I are raising two amazing young women.
It was just over a year ago my wife and I decided to move to the ‘country’ so my wife could have her dream of a small farm. Coincidentally, this would mean I could have a shooting range and what would take an ‘hour’ of practice would now really be an hour with a short walk to the range. This has changed a lot for me. The biggest thing that has changed is the time I am now able to spend with my family instead of being ‘gone’ so much shooting. Biding for my time was really turning into an issue for my family because when I do something I am passionate about, I am ‘all in’. I have already far surpassed my goals as a legitimate shooter in Rimfire Challenge and Steel Challenge. Unfortunately, unknowingly this was taking away from me being a legitimate father and husband. Even the best of us need to refocus on what truly is the ‘main thing’ in our lives.
Now, I am training with a sole purpose in mind and exploiting my weaknesses to be a better shooter. We all have them, we just need to identify them, work on them, and become better. What a lot of people don’t understand, it is truly work. Just because you get a ‘lucky’ 1.8 second string in Rimfire Rifle Open on 5 to Go does not mean when its match day you will be met with similar results. Now, if you can shoot 9 out of 10 strings at 1.80 in practice your likelihood of shooting a sub-8 second stage at the next match is going to go up.
If you put in the work you will see results you may not have expected. Working with top shooters in my sport has made me realize my conservative approach to shooting is not enough, although it was for a long time. I made a plan and shared it with a fellow shooter in how we are going to get to a sub 60. Within 6 weeks he almost did it. One of the stages on my plan to work on is Roundabout, something I have not felt comfortable in a while. I set it up and shot is as fast as I could. I started out hitting 3 out of 5 targets… then 4 out of 5 targets.. and then at my match this weekend I set a personal best of 5.49 seconds in Rimfire Rifle Open. I exceeded my goal on this stage and just like the last stage I practiced in this manner, Smoke and Hope, I will shoot it better going forward. I’m just getting started…
My message today is about hope and inspiration. In the game I shoot, Steel Challenge, if I can shoot a sub 65 major match time, you can too. Is it going to come without work? Heck no. You would not appreciate it if it was easy anyway. Make a realistic plan on how you are going to get there and put in the time and effort. From my personal experience, set a realistic timeline on when you want to accomplish your next goal and go after it. If you shoot a sub 65 second time at a match and this is your sole focus, you may not be fulfilled when you get to the finish line. You may have the accolades of your peers at your local club, but in most situations they are not the one you share your other good and bad times with.
See you out on the range soon!