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It’s Not an Option.

The shooting season is over and while some of us are thanking our lucky stars we got through the season without hurting ourselves, others are shooting so well, they are wishing it would go on for several more months. Either way, the next few months are as important as when we are in the middle of the competition season. Actually, they are more important.

So often, we don’t use this time off to our best benefit. Some of us pack away the gun, take a clean break and don’t even think about shooting. Others take no break at all, shooting local matches and use the rest of the time on the practice field.

Life is about balance and so is shooting. The best time to balance out your shooting journey is during the off season, when your mind is clear. Shooters will use this time to reflect on the past season, thinking about certain shots and working hard to learn from the mistakes they made. Over the next few months, you’re thinking about what went wrong and how to fix it. That’s really not the most productive way to spend the off season, dwelling on all the things that went wrong.

The mind is a powerful tool. A tool we don’t always use in the right way. Shooters tell me how they use the off season to learn from their mistakes and build off of those mistakes for the upcoming year. I always wondered – how you can build off of mistakes? Wouldn’t it be easier to build off successes?  One of my old coaches told me, “Don’t work on what went wrong. Work on what went right. Energy used on what went wrong is nothing but wasted energy.”

The off season IS the perfect time to recap and prepare for the upcoming season. Begin by building off what you did right. When reviewing matches shot, look at the ones you performed well at and determine why. ‘Everything just clicked’ might be the first answer you come up with, but it’s not the only answer. Dig a little deeper and find out why. Were you feeling particularly confident that day, and if so why? Were you seeing the target more clearly that day than any other day, and why is that? I can’t give you the answers to those questions, but I can ask you to dig down and find those answers yourself.

At the MEC booth at the Grand American, a lot of shooters came in and told me about their rounds and inevitably they start out by telling me what they did wrong. Start out by telling me, and yourself, what you did right. Focus on what you did correctly and build off that. Take what you did right on that one station and use it on the next station and the next.

Trying to build anything from a mistake or failure will only result in more mistakes and failures. Building something from a success can only result in more successes. So, during this off season, as you reflect on the previous shooting year, build from only the successes. It’s a choice you make on how you want to look at your season and remember, failure is not an option.


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