I was reading one of the heated threads on trapshooters.com, about where ‘big dogs’ (aka the top shooters) keep their gun hold in doubles and how they shoot their first target (spot shoot vs. tracking) and I started to recall all the opinions and pieces of advice I received over the years.
There is something in human nature that makes us ‘experts’ in every single subject – from raising horses to building houses, to educating kids, to whatever subject seems to be the center of the conversation. And then you have the trapshooters – most of them knowing better than the actual experts what you have to do.
I cannot remember any of the pieces of advice I have been given because I stuck with the main one: “don’t listen to any advice”; and I was smart 🙂 The main argument one has against giving advice is ‘show me how your advice is producing results’. Another argument is ‘what kind of results have you ever had to prove you know what you’re talking about?’ I would argue both are not necessarily a correct argument and does not ‘negate’ the advice.
Being a top shooter doesn’t automatically make you a good coach/instructor. Being less than a stellar shooter doesn’t mean you are not a wonderful coach. And a good instructor/coach is exactly what one needs to be in order to give good advice. A very good coach. Or a very good instructor. There is a difference between coaching and instructing, but we’ll talk on this subject another time.
As Phil Kiner mentions so nicely in his July T&F article (about Nora Ross and her beginnings) – there is one excellent piece of advice one can receive when starting to shoot (and the only one he/she should listen to besides his/her coach): look at what top shooters are doing, ask what they are doing, then try it: if it works for you – great; if not – discard!
We are all individuals and we are all very different from each other: physically and mentally. What might be a good approach for someone could spell disaster for another. In the beginning, one should stick with the advice from one person only: their coach. Once you start mixing advice – it’s like mixing drinks at a party: we all know what the end result of such an activity is!
And one should also be careful when he/she decides that “coach’s advice is not needed anymore; now I can fly by myself”. Early good results can give one false confidence and parting with your coach’s advice too soon will lead to disaster. After so many years I still feel better when I know Florin is behind me, watching what I am doing. It takes away from me the responsibility of remembering what I was doing (wrong or right) in order to fix or repeat. I know that he’s there and he can correct me with one sign from the side. Sure I can go by myself to the line (and I did so many times) and sure I know what to report back – but oh, it is so much nicer when I can fall back on being just a student!
I keep reading the specialty magazines and forums and I sometimes laugh hard at what human beings can come up with! Remember – the best advice I got from a great big shooter, Nick Stamos: “You, girl, are like a turtle – keep doing what works for you and don’t listen to nobody; they don’t know you as you do”.
So keep listening to your coach (being he/she a professional one or simply a good shooter you trust) and stay with his/her advice; your coach knows you better than anyone and knows what is good for you.
And, of course, enjoy the summer – today is supposed to be one true summer day!
See you on the range (next competition: Toronto International)