Changing for the better

Many times I am asked, "What should I change so I can do better?" We know that change is necessary to go from one state or level to another, but how and when and what do you change if you want to "improve"? One man asked me how to hold his gun "still". He was disapoointed when I told him this was not where he should be putting his effort! What he really wanted, of course, was better performance (scores). His analysis of what change would bring him the most improvement was faulty in thinking that his "stillness" or hold was the biggest problem he had. (Of course, we all know what really is the biggest problem, don't we?)

I am an inveterate changer myself. I believe this has helped me considerably in my career (although some of the coaches the US team has had were made crazy by this!) All my changes, though, were SYSTEMATIC. This means I analyzed the current situation, decided on which element would yield the most performance gain if changed, made the change I thought would be for the best, set up a test of efficacity, set a timetable for implementation and then RECORDED everything I could think of: All of the above (the change, the why, the how, the goal for the change, the schedule, etc.) and finally I documented ALL the results (scores). Warning!! All changes have side effects: In our eagerness to change something that seems to be an obstacle, sometimes we get negative, unintended results. One of my students decided that he would stop drinking his 8 cups of coffee a day for the duration of the National Championships. This surely would make him less "nervous" and he would do better. The only problem was the intense withdrawal headaches from the sudden cessation of caffiene! Moral: If the change will affect your physical state, make it early enough to allow for acclimation. Another example of this was the student who started weight training in the middle of the shooting season. His body was getting stronger, but his fine muscle control, needed for good performance, was shot! (Pun intended.) This also applies to changes to your equipment: A different gun, adding weights to the gun, a different grip, etc. Make these kinds of changes early enough to allow for adaption by the time the "big match" must be shot. More subtle changes like trigger weight, trigger position, shooting glass lenses, rhythm of firing, etc. can be made without so much concern about adaptive time, but should be planned, adhered to for a predetermined period and DOCUMENTED - then correlated with the results obtained. Only this way can you make an objective evaluation of the value of the change and decide whether to keep the new conditions or go back to "zero" and start again. Of course, sometimes the change is either so good or so bad it is obvious immediately that should either keep it or drop it! Either way, you've learned something you didn't know before and that is progress. And, the smarter we become, the better we perform. So change away - wisely!


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