Life is about struggle. Nobody said it would be easy, looking at it from the macro lens it can be overwhelming, even intimidating.
I am constantly getting asked what can I do to be a better shooter. Well, it may seem the obvious question is to get out there and shoot more. Maybe, but I first break shooters down into three categories and sometimes the best way to explain it in the written word is to borrow terms from my good friend John Welbourn. These terms are applied to all regardless of your profession, but I see the levels broken down into amateurs, collegiate and professionals.
Amateurs see the biggest gains early on, they make huge strides in skill development because they could have started with nothing or at the bottom. At the collegiate level there is certain expectations placed on them from society regarding skill level partly due to their profession, but they still may have amateur skills. Then there are those who truly are improving their skills that more represents the collegiate level, but the gains are less steep. You literally have to claw for the slightest margin of improvements, while measurements could have been measured in hours to minutes, at the amateur level you see improvements broken down from minutes to seconds at the collegiate. Then there is the professional level, the level where every aspect of improvement can be measured in milliseconds. You literally are fighting for everything and here is where the real difference between collegiate and professional comes in and that is in how fast your skills will depreciate. To maintain them at the professional levels requires an incredible amount of maintenance. That maintenance can have some unintended consequences in the form of injuries. You do any profession at that level long enough and I don’t care who you are, you are going to see injuries. They can stretch from minor to major, but we all have them.
So, what is the key to not just sustaining your skills, but improving within the professional level? First off, you really have to ask yourself if that is truly in your best interests. Do you have a true need to have those skills honed to that level. Some might believe they do, but I truly question even those. The time and resources to commit to this level are truly draining and I just don’t think folks really grasp that at times.
So, when we want to see those millisecond gains, but still find ourselves in the collegiate level what can we do to push the envelope. This is where I circle back to the question from earlier in the article, what can I do to be a better shooter. It is not so much an answer that involves shooting, flat out I tell them to get stronger or get faster or preferable get both.
It really is that simple! You have to put in work off the range to really see the results at the higher collegiate level. It will mean taking stock of your current fitness level, honest analysis. Then figuring out what you need to do to improve your shooting, there is a lot more than some may think. Sit down and identify a clear and sharp goal. Be specific, this is where you have to take the honest appraisal of your current fitness and apply a realistic expectation as your goal. Follow that up with measurable results that allow you to track your progress.
In the end, those who put in the work not just on the range, but off are going to see not so much their skills improving, but depreciating less.