Time to come clean.
I played a lot of baseball in my youth, and one thing I learned was that it took practice – practice to improve, practice to win, heck, practice just to stay even. I liked baseball practice – fielding, batting, throwing, running the bases. And I got better and better every season.
I also played a season of youth football, but I quit after the first season, not because I didn’t like the sport, but because I hated practice. We did so many things that seemed to have no bearing on the game of football.
In my shooting career, I’ve seen improvement from time to time, and it usually came when I practiced. Nothing surprising there.
About ten years ago I read a book called Mastery, by George Leonard. George took up the martial art of aikido at age 47, and went on to become a black belt, and open his own dojo. In the process of becoming a black belt, he studied and then wrote about the process that humans go through when they learn and master any skill, from sports to career to marriage. Without reviewing the whole book, he found (and my experience confirms) that humans learn in spurts. In between these growth spurts, we are on a plateau, until practice and training enable us to reach another growth spurt.
This past week I decided to get the book out again, after hearing Michael Bane talk about it on one of his old podcasts. Two things became immediately obvious to me.
First, despite anything I’ve written in this blog, I am, sadly, merely a Hacker when it comes to shooting. I have worked on my shooting, and improved, but I have reached a plateau, as George Leonard predicted. Sadly, I have somewhat accepted this plateau, and I am most of the time content to compete at the level I am at.
Second, if I am going to shed this Hacker status, and truly improve – move up in USPSA, win a match, learn new techniques – I am going to have to devote myself to practice. I am also going to have to get a coach, someone who can show me where I am lacking, correct mistakes, and hold me to my program.
Fortunately, through contacts I’ve made since I started this blog, I have access to the tools, drills, coaches, and techniques that I will need. I have the time and the desire. All that is lacking is the doing. Practice.
I am currently putting together my practice plan, and in the coming weeks I will share it with you. In the meantime, I welcome suggestions.