The Importance of a Shot Plan
Much like martial arts, one of the best things about shooting is the discipline and focus it teaches. This discipline comes in many forms. But I think the best example of the way the discipline of shooting carries over into everyday life is through the infamous shot plan.
A shot plan is the routine a shooter follows every single time they take a shot. Shooting is about doing the same thing, the same way, every…single…time. To aid in accomplishing this task, shooters make a list of things they do before, after and during every single shot. This can include many things such as breathing, checking balance, trigger squeeze, relaxing the right shoulder, follow through, etc. Being slightly off in your shot plan more often than not leads to a poor shot. When a shooter realizes that his or her shot plan has faltered in some way, as they are about to take the shot, he or she generally will set the gun down, and reject the shot (or at least he or she should). For example, if a shooter realizes that his or her approach, or the way he or she brings the rifle onto the target, does not, say, come from the center and rather starts to come from the left, it’s a warning sign that a shot is already not properly lined up with the target. This means that the shooter must reset their position and investigate and analyze what caused this change.
Basically, a shot plan is a way to help shooters maintain the intense focus required of those at the higher level. It takes discipline, concentration, and dedication in order to achieve a consistently well-executed shot plan, and interestingly, at least for me, these qualities developed from shooting carry over into other aspects of life. Some of these concepts come naturally to people. For example, it has always felt borderline blasphemous to me to not check over a test or a quiz upon completion. Give every shot the chance to be a ten, give every test the chance to be a hundred. It just makes sense. But what shooting has helped me— and I think many other shooters as well— do is train my brain to use this focus for longer stretches of time. You'd be surprised how tired you can get after a full match of pure, uninterrupted concentration. Food and naps are most certainly in order following these events. What I'm trying to say is, maintaining intense focus for such an extended period of time makes other times where focus is necessary seem easy in comparison. You've built up the discipline and the understanding of how to maintain this focus, and that's the difficult part. Now all you have left is to put it into practice.
This is one of the many reasons why I think shooting is such a positive influence on people's lives. We live in a society where information is constant and arrives in an instant and if it doesn't catch our attention immediately, it's often considered boring and not worthwhile. Shooting brings us back to a level of watching paint dry and grass grow, and really, that may not be such a bad thing for society. A competitive shooting mentality can maybe help us stop and smell the roses for once, and the best part is, that's just a fraction of what shooting has to offer.