Shooters Attitude

Spec Ops Shooting

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About half of achieving superb performance is your attitude. It can either help you or hinder your development.

The few problems I've had coaching riflemen were due to their egos. You can take pride in what you do and how well you do it, but when it reaches the point that it masks errors or closes your mind to further progress, it's no longer pride but blind ego. A sniper's surest, fastest route to hell is to become oblivious to his own shortcomings. As Dirty Harry once said, "A man's got to know his limitations," if he's to correct them.

Amazingly, some men have convinced themselves they can be "natural" master shooters with litde or no practice. Maybe they overdosed on John Wayne movies as children. By contrast, I've found that women make excellent shooting students since they have no hang-ups about how accurately they "naturally" should shoot. Never forget that rifle shooting is a perishable skill and can only be developed and maintained by live-fire practice.

The first forward step in attitude is to dismiss any emotional reaction to your shooting. Become a detached, objective observer of your own performance who can analyze errors and diagnose correct solutions. Be honest with yourself. The Olympic-level rifle shooters I know are "slow-walkin', slow-talkin'" kinds of guys who don't get shaken but think before they act.

Accept the contradictory realization that your entire shooting career will be spent striving for perfection but absolute perfection is unobtainable. Never exaggerate your own performance; look not at nine perfect hits but at the one miss and figure out what caused it, then apply this to the next shot. Competition is great, and I applaud all match winners, but as soon as you start thinking you're the "best," you'll begin that downhill slide to Lucifer. Continually ask yourself, "What can I do better?" Compare your performance not to anyone else's— compare it only to your own.

Competitions, such as this match at the NRA Whittington Center, help police and military snipers hone their skills.

Log a lot of detail in your record book, study it between shooting practices, and use it to plan how you shoot in subsequent practice sessions.

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