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A Coach’s Perspectve

My Biggest Challenge Is Also My Biggest Opportunity

of the top skill level is not where it needs to be so we are actively looking for better performances from our NDT and NJT members, many of whom I worked with in my previous position as volun- teer National Junior Coach. This is an area where I hope

My biggest challenge as Na-

tional Rifl e Coach is also my big- gest opportunity - that is to con- tinue a great tradition of the US Rifle Teams of the past. Not just the last few teams with Coach David Johnson, but also the past excellence and legacy of some of the dominant teams of the 1920s, 1960s and 1970s. Those teams consisted of not just one or two good shots but oftentimes four of the best shooters in the world (teams consisted of four shooters in those days.) We have already done some

work towards maintaining this with the World Championship performance in Munich 2010 winning the Men’s Prone Team event for the second time in a row and the Women’s and Ju- nior Women’s 3x20 events, the junior event with a massive WR +11 points. And last year’s Olym- pic success with Jamie Grey’s astounding Gold Medal perfor- mance in Women’s 3P and Matt Emmons’ Bronze in Men’s 3P. We can’t rest on our laurels

anywhere. There is extra work to be done on the air rifl e range for both men and women as well as men’s smallbore rifl e. The depth

to work closely with the collegiate coaches and their American ath- letes to really push the skill level of air rifl e shooting. We have seen some of it increase with top international shooters attending US universities on scholarship. We need to do even better.

Rules It matters little what I think

about the new rules. It mat- ters much more how I adapt to them and how I help our athletes adapt to the new rules, espe- cially the new Finals rules. The Qualifi cation and the Final are now two separate and distinctly different competitions with the start from zero. The Final with the separate preparation and sight- ing time will put a premium on getting the rifl e precisely zeroed and the early Final shots deep in the center of the target. There can be no “riding it out” anymore or coasting to victory because of a big qualifi cation score; all that goes away. Anyone can win in the SFZ format. We will need to do more of the little things even bet- ter to improve the chances in the Final.

The 3P Final has the added

challenge now of kneeling and prone in addition to standing. The changeover from position to position and shooting sighting

44 USA Shooting News | May 2013

shots in a limited time increases the complexity by an order of magnitude. As far as clothing or competi-

tion rules go, my philosophy is as long as they are interpreted cor- rectly and enforced consistently, then the competition is fair. I get concerned when the rules are not enforced or incorrectly inter- preted and thus force a shooter to change something that does not need to be changed. A little bit of preparation and review of the rules, especially for equip- ment control personnel and range staff, will go a long way toward making things work well.

NRA, CMP, NCAA The NRA and CMP are both

important organizations in the development of future athletes. These organizations provide training for both coaches and athletes through coach train- ing programs, competitions and camps for the shooters. The NCAA schools provide high level training and competition oppor- tunities in a team environment for some of the best rifl e men and women. The groups are not as inte-

grated as I would like. The coach education program, for example, is a fairly comprehensive series of courses to train coaches in rifl e shooting as well as pistol and shotgun. I worked in that area for nearly 12 years and in that time developed it to what it is today. Some can argue that it is not enough or that it is too much material. I have heard and can understand both sides, but


with constraints on funds, etc., there is no uniform requirement to have any formal coach train- ing. This applies from local club level to the top NCAA teams. There are no requirements to have any coach training in the shooting sports. Certainly, CMP and their relationship with JROTC programs of all the services and the required safety course for students and instructors is a good fi rst step but beyond that the coach is on his own. Some coaches are motivated and want to do the best for their shooters and seek out the knowledge and training. Others see no point be- cause they already know all they need because they believe they already know all they need. What this leads to is incon-

sistent training of athletes. Some get the right stuff from the begin- ning and are usually quite suc- cessful. Others get inconsistent or even incorrect training and either quit or struggle for a while until they fi gure it out on their own or ultimately give up be- cause they begin to believe it is not their sport. With few excep- tions, I believe almost everyone can be a good rifl e shooter, but it takes starting them correctly on the right path at the beginning. The best way for that to happen is for the coach to get the right training too. There is no question that it

takes a number of years to de- velop and refi ne the skills and tactics that are needed to be a world class rifl e shooter. Many shooters start in junior clubs or JROTC programs. The better ones

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