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Preparing for the Course of Fire
January 19, 2011

As I was running people tonight for our normal Wednesday match, I noticed something that I would like to share with our club. A shooter not only needs to  be mentally prepared to shoot a stage, but also needs to be aware there is a time and place for this to happen that is best for the shooter and best for the club.

A shooter should always have a plan on how he or she is going to shoot a stage and then should stick to the plan. When should you start and how should you go about this?

Most importantly, make sure you are there for the Walk Through. This is when you hear the CoF and you see target placement. You find out how many scored rounds, where cover is, where one can reload, etc. Personally, this is when I start my prep for the plan. I figure which side of barricade I will shoot from, best place for reloads, where I will reload, etc. It is different when I shoot revolver, CDP, or SSP/ESP, because of the number of rounds that are available....so the plan will be different. At this point,  I look for ways to save time (can I do a tac reload along a wall and would this help me save time, etc). I look at foot placement at ends of walls or barricades, I look at the timing of swingers, pop-out, or pop-up targets so I can see if I have time to engage other threats as the mover is presenting itself, etc.

All of this is done long before my turn on the line. I have already developed the plan in my head so that when I come to the line, load and make ready, it only takes me a few seconds to relax, get ready, and give the nod that I am prepared.

Those who come to the line and after loading and then spend 15-30 seconds mentally going over each part of the stage are simply not prepared mentally for the stage -- with the result that they delay the match for everyone else. 30 seconds per shooter for mentally "getting in the groove" doesn't sound like much but it adds up quickly.

For example, let's say 30 shooters shoot stage 1. If each shooter takes 30 seconds after they are loaded, that is 15 minutes for that stage in "mental prep time" for everyone to shoot that stage. With 5 stages on a Wednesday night, that's 1 hr and 15 min "extra" time needed to put on the match. But, if  every shooter is prepared and ready in approx. 5 seconds, then it decreases to 2.5 minutes per stage of "mental prep time" per 30 shooters or approx 12.5 minutes per 5 stages. Significant time saved.

The moral: don't do your "mental rehearsal" after the load and make ready command, do it before. Come to the line while the others are taping and go over in your head what your plan is. Then, when you load and make ready, relax and think of either the first thing you need to do or concentrate on the most difficult element of your plan and make that come easy and smooth.

This will make you a better shooter, you will improve your skill sets, and the club match will run smoother and more efficiently for everyone.


Garry Newton

The 1st Law
All Guns Are
Always Loaded!

The 2nd Law
 Never Point The Muzzle
At Something You Are
Not Willing To Destroy!

The 3rd Law
Keep Your Finger
Off The Trigger
Until Your Sights
Are On The Target!

The 4th Law
Identify Your Target,
And What Is Behind It!