Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Step two: After the basics

Sometimes when I ask the ladies, “what are your shooting goals?” they say “I want to shoot better.” I usually follow up with “what do you mean by better?” And they give me a look that means, “duh better”.  This has prompted me to outline a few options for those who want to shoot “better”.

Fundamentals, Target Shooting and Recreational Fun

There are a few examples of beginner shooting goals right there in the heading.  Work on your fundamentals, so they are the BEST they can be.  You can perform these without thinking and your shots are on target every time.  If you were a robot instead of a breathing human being, your fundamentals would be a precise program written for perfection.

Target shooting and hitting bullseyes perfectly every time.  Read: you are always in the 10 ring.  You are so accurate that you hit the same hole every time.  It looks like you have shot only one round, but really you have shot 50.  Try this achievement at every distance available to you at your local range.

Shooting for recreational fun.  I don’t mean going to range and gossiping with your girlfriends while holding a firearm.  What I mean is shooting fun targets, take bets as to who can do it the best, no pressure situations.  Try some trick shooting, like splitting a playing card in two or a poker target and see who can shoot the best hand.  And enter a local shooting competition for fun.  Local ranges may host a bullseye contest to benefit a charity or win a prize.  It’s not about winning, although that is nice, consider it a part of your overall experience as a shooter.

Shooting Sports, Competitive Shooting and Join a Team

I’ll be upfront with you; I don’t have a lot of experience with shooting sports.  I have an idea of what they are about and what is involved, but not a first-hand account.  Shooting sports and competitive shooting events are like all other sporting events, but shooting is the game.  There are local clubs that host these events and they have a set course you must shoot and you are scored based on your time.  Your time is calculated by the reading on the timer and then offset by the scoring mechanism in place.  For example, if you missed the target they might add 2 seconds to your time and if you shot a perfect target, they might take away 2 seconds from your time.  Better hits equals a better time.

And like many other sports there are teams you can join, where your scores are compiled as a team.  Then you are ranked and placed like a track team or swimming team.  Look up local ranges (both indoor and outdoor) in your area to see what the offer.  Many times these events are low cost, hosted monthly and have a moderate ammunition requirement.

Defensive Shooting and Further Training

Working on your skills can lead to other opportunities in training.  Once you have a good understanding and execution of the fundamentals and your shots are going where you expect them and want them to go, you might be ready to seek out more advanced training.  You can always learn more and get a different perspective by training with other people.  In this skill, more is better.

Become and instructor

Becoming an instructor is one of the most rewarding options (in my opinion).  I enjoy teaching others, no matter what the skill is, and I have a long history of teaching a wide range of topics.  There is always a practical test of your skills you must perform to qualify, but after completing our first topic, it should be no problem.  When I became a firearms instructor, I became a better shooter.  I understood what needed to be shared from my experiences and how my experiences applied to each individual.

Choosing the teaching pathway also opens you up to share your knowledge base with others.  In the firearms world, there are always people who learn on their own, but when you gain the skills needed to teach someone, you will learn what you need to do to improve other shooter’s skills.  In the end you can help everyone become  a better shooter.