Georgina Roberts explains how to plan for clay shooting success, and stick to it!
Clay shooters should take heed of the aphorism credited to Benjamin Franklin: ‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.’ Time is precious, so we need to use it wisely.
I’ve been told many times that training without purpose is just turning live ammunition into empty cases. Shooting is an expensive sport, so making use of a plan can get the most out of your training sessions and utilise the opportunities that you have.
Plans are brilliant for organising the thoughts and ideas of you or your coach, and making note of which activities and drills you can utilise in order to develop your shooting and help you work towards your goals. Depending on you and how you choose to use it, a plan can be as simple as an outline or as detailed and data driven as you wish to make it.
Plans can be used to highlight areas of your shooting that you wish to focus on, whether it’s skill sets or certain parts of your technique. They’re brilliant for keeping you focused on the task in hand, as it’s easy to lose sight of what the purpose of the session is.
They can also help you keep focused on your short term and long term goals, as well as helping you build up to specific competitions or for an entire Olympic cycle.
Trust the process
If you do use a plan, whether it be a daily, weekly or even longer term, change will not happen overnight. You need to be patient and trust the process. Despite enforcing every detail in your plan, it will take time to develop and to reach your goals.
It’s also important to remember that certain things, such as developing your mindset or certain areas of your technique, will take a long time to become ingrained. People learn in different ways and it can take longer for some people to develop certain skills; there’s no one size fits all solution to shooting and planning.
If you’re analytical, you might like to have some clear, measurable markers that you can take from your performance.
Using data is one of the most effective ways of measuring your objectives as you can make direct comparisons. For example, this could be scores taken from a previous competition. Which scores won which class? Which scores made the final?
This can give you an idea as to what you need to be aiming for.
As we succeed, we should add to the complexity of the training and development in order for us to better ourselves even further. If we are struggling, we should reduce the complexity and go back to basics.
We can then develop each skill in accordance to how we help develop our own performance and the time it takes to develop that skill.
Use time wisely
Plans can help you make the most out of the time and resources you have. It shouldn’t be a case of practising your favourite drills, simply because you enjoy them.
Plans should be built to put you through your paces in order to help you achieve maximum potential. Having a good plan will lead to successful practice and, in turn, longer term outcomes will be achieved more easily.
Mapping out your objectives for each session, and which skills you need to work on, as well as which drills you are going to use to develop those skills, will all come together and help you meet your development goals.
A plan can be used as a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything from your session that you need in order to maximise performance. Timed plans can help you stick to a programme if time is tight. This could start with a 20 minute physical warm up, stretches and eye training exercises; then go on to 10 minutes of dry mounting on the range and finding eye/gun hold points.
Using a detailed plan like this means leaving nothing to chance. It also means that what you put into practice, you get out of practise – it’s scalable into performance.
Keep it flexible
Plans need to be flexible; things change, and therefore you need to be adaptable. For instance, this could be a competition being cancelled and therefore you might need to adjust the volume of training until the next competition.
It can also be really helpful to video your training sessions, whether it be a full round, or one target – especially when completing certain drills. You can review them after the session has ended and see how effective the drill is. Did it achieve what it was set out to achieve? Did you learn anything from it?
If it was beneficial, you can add this into your future training plans. If it worked to a certain extent, the drill could perhaps be tweaked to ensure you get the most out of it, depending on what the purpose of that drill is. Seeking and using feedback can help you develop future training sessions. Investing in training will always result in a positive outcome.
You should also take time to rehearse the plan, making sure that you know exactly what you need to do in order to meet your objectives for the day. This way, you can spend your training session doing and improving, rather than talking about what you should be doing.
Training should be seen as being an investment into your future. When you embrace training as something that is going to help you achieve your goals, both short term and long term, the more you will want to improve how you train.