by Jon 9/30/2023
It’s a clickbait title, I know. But, really, why aren’t you getting better? How long has a “X” draw time been your ceiling? How long have you been a Sharp Shooter or C class? It might be your ego and it might be laziness, but if you’re reading this, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you another option. It’s because your goals (if you even have any) suck. They suck real bad. Because your goals suck, so does your training plan. Vague, ill defined goals lead to a vague, ill defined, and aimless training plan.
Let me introduce you to SMART Goals. Now I’m not generally one for cutesy corporate speak but there is real science in the power of properly set goals, and SMART goals simply give us a framework to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. With SMART goals, there is no question of “How do I get there?” With well-defined goals, the plan becomes self-evident. You just have to do the work.
So, let’s set a goal together. Oh, you want to shoot better? Me too, but that’s not…
We all want to shoot better, but what does that mean? I want a faster draw. Ok what does that mean? This is where we peel back the layers. I want to shave 0.30 off of my draw. Ok now we’re being specific… but let’s branch that out a little deeper. What makes a faster draw? It’s not just about moving your hands faster, but being efficient, bringing the gun to your eyes, getting rid of extraneous movement, getting the support hand to the gun early,... you see where I’m going with this. To ensure your goal is specific, ask yourself these questions:
1) Is your goal specific and well defined?
2) What do I want to achieve?
3) What does that achievement look like?
4) What steps do I need to take to get there?
Goals should be specific and well defined.
Make your goals quantifiable, they are outcome focused by nature. Pretty easy in our business because we all know that the target and the timer never lie, it is objective reality. But by what metric do we measure success? Is it time? Group size? Hit factor? It depends, and it’s entirely dependent on the goal you set, but will at least give you a witness mark against which to build your training plan. Here’s some measurability questions:
1) Can you track your goal?
2) If not, how do you know if you are meeting your goal?
3) What metrics are you going to use?
Be realistic. Make sure that your goal is something you CAN achieve within the resource and time limitations you have. “Shoot for the moon, because if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars” is trite bullshit. That way lies nothing but frustration and stagnation. This isn’t to say we will meet every goal, we will surely fail sometimes. But setting yourself up for failure for the mere “hard-coreness” of it is counterproductive. This requires a well-structured plan that you will actually execute. Think about resource requirements as well, such as ammo, travel to the range, and certainly not least of all your time.
1) Is this goal achievable?
2) Do I have the resources and time to make this happen?
Well, a faster draw is obviously relevant to shooting but why is that your goal? Is that what you think you’ll need to win “Your Fight”? Maybe it is. I won’t be there, so I won’t argue that with you. But let’s talk about prioritization. Once you get the gun out, if you can’t hit shit, is a faster draw really the most relevant goal to you? This is where social media can be a cancer in training. Sub second draws look great on video but they aren't real life. Did you even have a good grip when you fired that single shot? Who knows? because grip doesn’t matter all that much for a single shot. So perhaps you achieved your goal while sacrificing technique in pursuit of it. This is where being process focused instead of outcome focused will start to come in, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. Make sure your goals are relevant because they’re important to YOU. For your wider duties as a shooter and as a human, not because they were fed to you by an algorithm. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.
1) Is this goal relevant to you?
2) Why do I want to reach this goal?
3) Are there other more important goals that are being sacrificed in order to achieve this one?
This is why New Year’s resolutions fail. This is why my own yearly dry fire goal failed. I set a year-long goal with no subgoals to keep me accountable and on track. A year-long goal is fine, but what sub goals in sub timetables need to be set to keep you on the rails. We’ll give ourselves three weeks for this one. Now we start to see the framework of our training plan rise from the primordial mist.
1) Does your goal have a deadline?
2) Do you have sub deadlines that will help keep you accountable and on track?
So now let’s build a training plan with our goal: shaving 0.30 off the draw and giving myself 3 weeks to do it. This is a pretty simple example, all we need to do is break that into smaller sub goals, taking 0.10 off a week. If you start with a 1.80 average draw and can dedicate 5 min of dry fire 3 times a week, a 1.50 draw is perfectly achievable. Now this may not be as linear for more complex goals but it’s a fair starting point. As I mentioned, when you have a properly defined goal, the training plan almost writes itself. This is what gives you specificity in your training. You don't walk into the gym and just do whatever you feel like if you want to get stronger, you follow a plan that was decided in advance. Dry fire and range sessions need to be structured the same way.
Process vs Outcome Driven
There’s one more thing I want to discuss. I know, we’re over 1000 words, bear with me, it’s important. Goals, by their very nature, are outcome driven. A 1.8 draw to a 1.5 draw in three weeks is an outcome. When you are dry firing and using your range time, remember that the outcome should not be your focus, but a pleasant byproduct of your focus on the process. So don’t just focus on racing the timer, but set your awareness on performing the tasks that get you to a faster draw. Part of every shooting goal should be a sub goal of developing the awareness to diagnose what went right or wrong in your rep, in your training session, and in your entire goal journey. If you focus on the process, the outcome is all but guaranteed.
Let’s wrap this up, shall we? Where are you, and where do you want to be? Peel back the layers and set SMART goals. Dry fire. Focus on the process in your training. (Hydrate)
Go get some.