One at a time

Here’s something I learned from lifting that I’m working to apply to shooting.

When lifting, we look at sets and reps. We think of 3 sets of 10 reps, or 5 sets of 5 reps,. When we perform them, we count. When we count, we think about the string we’re performing, and we’ll often think about them in a relative way, like instead of “7, 8, 9, 10” we might think “3 more, 2 more, 1 more, done”. Whatever we’re doing, we’re doing a couple things:

  1. We think about the reps in a series
  2. We think about the reps.

Somewhere in all the reading I do about lifting, someone said to think about each rep as a single rep. So instead of thinking about doing 1 set of 5 reps, think about doing 5 sets of 1 rep, consecutively. The difference? You don’t think about the reps. You don’t count the reps. You don’t allow any part of your lifting to be focused on not-lifting, so all your energy can be focused on performing the lift itself. Yeah, if you’re lifting the 5# dumbbells it probably doesn’t matter, but when you’re truly pushing your limits, every ounce of energy and focus matters. Furthermore, when we lift with counting, we will start that first rep all tight and ready, then things degrade. If you always think about it being “1 rep, first rep”, you take a moment to reset every time, to ensure this rep is a “first rep” in every and all regards. It increases the quality of the reps.

But for me, it’s often about the mental distraction. I get too focused on where I am in the rep scheme and where that is relative to my goal reps. That loss of focus is bad and something I continue to work on.

And so, it comes to shooting.

When we shoot, we will shoot in a “set and rep” scheme. Look at the “3 Seconds or Less” drill. We’re going to lift (shoot) 20 reps (rounds) total. We’ll start with 1 set (string) of 3 reps (shots), then a 2nd set of 2 reps, and you see where I’m going? it’s the same sort of setup and scheme here, and it allows us to fall into the same sort of counting and mental distraction.

At the A-Zone Range, Karl has a steel “hostage” target (not sure if this is the exact model, but it’s close enough for discussion purposes). The target is set up on “the small range”, and depending where we put the firing line, it’s generally a 25 yard shot. Karl says the flapper is 6″ diameter with probably 75% exposed. So it’s a small target, but hittable. I’ve long had a goal of being able to step up to the line with my carry gun (M&P 9), shoot a full magazine of ammo at the flapper (16+1 rounds), and have 100% hits on the flapper.

I have yet to do this.

25 yards is a humbler for me, and something I’ve long needed to work on. Alas, there’s always something more important to work on, so it always gets bumped down the priority ladder.

The other day I started shooting this and realized what I was doing. I was going along, making hits, doing well. Then I got too mentally excited about things and thinking “hey, I might actually do it this time…. nope… damnit!”  I was distracted. I was thinking too much about my count… hey, I got through 6 without a miss, 7 without… 8!!  9… nope. I could see myself getting closer to the finish line, then falling because I was thinking more about the end goal than doing the work required to get there.

I was not in the present moment. I was distracted by a potential future, one that wouldn’t happen if I didn’t live in the present moment and do what the present required of me.

And I thought to myself, this is just like heavy squats. I shouldn’t be trying to do 1 string of 17 shots, I should be doing 17 single shots.

I also thought I should be more progressive and work up to it. You know, start light (huzzah, Jim Wendler). So I moved up to 15 yards and 10 rounds. I did that. Great! It was getting too hot so I called it an afternoon, but there’s where I will resume: 15 yards, full magazine, one shot at a time. When I can clean that on-demand, I’ll back up to 20 yards, and go for 5 rounds, and “work up” (there’s a lifting term again).

Crazy how world’s overlap, eh?

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