Two Groups – Not One

New - Leigh GroupNew - Ashley Group

Please take a look at these two groups. The air group was shot by a brand new shooter (two months of light training) in the standing position with no suit or boots. The smallbore group (A-36 target) was shot in the standing position by an experienced air rifle shooter in her first weekend of smallbore.

What do you see? How would you evaluate these targets? How would you discuss them with yourself if they were yours or with the athlete?

Did your answer involve the use of the word “flyers” or anything related? Did your answer emphasize the one or two wide shots or the majority of the shots near the middle of the group? Did you emphasize score or the size of the group?

From now on, the word “flyer” is prohibited!

There are two groups, not one. When we first start to shoot, our “group” may look more like a shotgun pattern. Quickly we learn and our group shrinks. Soon enough, we get targets like the ones shown here. Each target illustrates two groups.

The main group is what people generally refer to as “the group” when discussing a target. As we make progress, the main group becomes smaller and it has a higher percentage of the shots. The outer group are the wide shots that aren’t in the main group yet. As we make progress, the outer group also shrinks and it has a lower percentage of the shots. Eventually it, too, shrinks and all the shots are in the main group. Even in the smallbore target above, there are two groups even though all the shots touch. At least one shot is obviously not truly in the main group.

What is the point of this discussion?

Focus your mind and thoughts on the main group. It is your future. The outer group is your past. Which way are you headed? Answer: in the direction you spend the most time thinking about.

Recently at a collegiate match, an athlete commented on how he had shot a 7 in a practice session that week. His coach, whom I greatly respect, immediately responded: “No that is not how you talk about that session! You shot a 591 with 54 tens!” The athlete got the point!

I like to look at a match result with an athlete this way: Lets see, 34 Xs, 19 tens, and 7 nines. The X count is growing!

Focus on the positive and the future. Congratulate yourself on those tight main groups and let the process take care of the outer group for you.

Which wolf are you feeding?


Welcome to the High Performance Olympic Target Shooting Blog

AP5 Group - 2002 06 - Center


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.

Please read the About and Author pages of this blog site for further information about the blog and the author. Please also feel free to go to the Contact page to send me your comments, suggestions, and topic ideas.

During November and December of 2013, the blog will be in “start-up” mode with official launch in 2014.

Feel Center!


The target shown above, scoring 50-4x, was fired at the 2002 USA Shooting National Championships hosted by the US Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, GA in the demonstration event of Standard Air Pistol. This is a ten second series, fired at a slightly too rapid tempo with a Steyr LP-5, in only eight seconds – with an audience. No pressure!