(Updated Mon 02 Dec 2013)
Be sure to “Follow” this blog using the highlighted link shown on the Home page!
This blog is intended for the athlete and coach who strives to thrive under pressure; who strives to be able to win consistently, and who strives to grow as a person and enjoy the the journey of learning, self-discovery and, and self-growth.
Your comments, ideas, and suggestions are always welcome. Please remember that many readers of this blog are athletes who are minors and others are their parents who may have no prior exposure to the sport. Please keep all replies positive, uplifting, and helpful to all. You may also use the Contact page on this blog site to send me a private message.
If there are any advertisements shown in the blogs, they are automatically placed there by WordPress, not by me.
This blog is specifically for athletes and coaches engaged in the sport of Olympic Rifle and Pistol target shooting. However, shotgun participants, and participants in any other sport or performance activity (music, singing, dance, public speaking, etc.) will find that much of the content applies to their activity as well.
The primary emphasis of the blog is on the mental (e.g. self talk, focus, etc.) and emotional (e.g. anger, fear, etc.) aspects of thriving under pressure. These are universal themes applicable to all performance activities.
Posts will be at varying though hopefully somewhat frequent intervals. Time will tell how often and how in-depth.
During November and December of 2013, the blog will be in “start-up” mode with official launch in 2014.
It is my hope that topics may be addressed on a more timely basis through this blog than in the bi-monthly “On The Firing Line” article series in USA Shooting News. The USA Shooting News article series, which originated early in 2001 and ran for over ten years, is slated to resume early in 2014. Most of the original articles are posted online and the remaining few will be added by the end of 2013. Future articles will be added as they become available, often in expanded versions due to print version space limitations.
Several of the “On The Firing Line” articles have been translated into Japanese and published by the Japanese National Governing Body for Olympic target shooting. Several have been adapted for and published by USA Archery. In one of his Olympic Coach Magazine articles, Dr. Sean McCann, director of the US Olympic Sports Psychology program referenced an article (#18) in the series. See articles 17 and 18 on Choking and Choking Cures. The US Soccer Coaches Association also reprinted those two articles. Many club, high school, and college rifle and pistol teams use the articles as references in their training programs. It has been very encouraging to observe the results and response to my coaching and writing. The learning and the journey continue!
Every human endeavor has a body of knowledge that is generally known. A generally accepted set of principles and teaching methods are based on that knowledge. These become dogma, allow a new practitioner to rapidly advance… though only up to a certain level of mediocrity, and become entrenched as fixed commandments.
The great photographer Bruce Barnbaum makes this point in his book “The Art of Photography” about doing photography on a whole other level. This excellent book is on not just the technical craft, but also on the “softer” mental and emotional aspects of photography. For example, the oft quoted composition “rule of thirds” is actually false, and is even based on an analysis that was fatally flawed. But the myth is repeated in book after book and thus lives on!
Target shooting is no different in this respect. We are taught a set of rules and principles, most of which are very useful and helpful, while a few others are actually counterproductive. Only when an athlete or coach realizes this, discards the red herrings, and (re)discovers the alternatives, does the athlete shine.
When I began coaching, I watched and listened carefully. Because of my exposure to other performance sports and pursuits, and because I did not “come up through the system” and hadn’t been taught all of the dogma, it became clear that there were some things that were frequently overlooked in this sport, and thus utilized by only a small percentage of coaches and athletes. Over time, my approach formed where “what the best shooters do” is not the only “standard” by which tools and techniques are judged. Rather, study was made to answer the question “How do homo sapiens best perform this activity?”
It was in that light that I was given the best advice I have received so far on this journey: “Go outside the country for target shooting resources and go completely outside the sport for psychological and mental aspects of performance and shooting.”
My self-directed study is based on that principle. Primary resources include sports psychology textbooks and related books, medical textbooks (e.g. a medical school book on clinical visual perception borrowed from my eye doctor), classic target shooting books and articles from accomplished athletes such as Gary Anderson, especially a number of very insightful teachers and mentors who understood the issues of dogma and who have given most generously of their time and knowledge (see Author page for primary mentors), and most importantly, empirical observation and work directly with athletes at all levels of the sport. My coaching work and writing reflect this overall “how best” philosophy and draw from a broad variety of sports and disciplines.
Additional significant influences which lent perspective to my training were observing Director Alfred Watkins of the two time national champion Marietta (GA) Lassiter High School marching band and observing Coach Gerry Faust and his multiple state and national championship Cincinnati Moeller High School football program.
Many athletes and coaches are all about active control of the process. Others utilize “alternative” ways of approaching sport performance under pressure as found more frequently in many other sports and sometimes in this sport. The “alternative” is my frame of reference.
Please do NOT use the Reply box below. Instead, please Reply to a specific blog item if appropriate, or go to the Contact page of this blog site to send me a private message with your comments, ideas, and suggestions.