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U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU)

The Simple Approach To Introduce Juniors To Our Sport


sight alignment, trigger control and follow through. During this time there will be practice and “mini matches” until a score de- termined in the program is met. This time is very crucial and will set the tone for how well they will perform in the coming months. If the junior is not performing at a pace that is expected, we will then break down the fundamen- tals to make sure that we have not missed anything and put a focus on taking very selec- tive and disciplined shots. The bench stage is then followed by prone, standing, kneeling and fi - nally implementing all they have learned into a series of three. position matches.

Throughout Norton (left) works with a young athlete at a recent USAMU Rifl e camp.

While working with our amaz- ing talent at the Ft. Benning Ju- nior Rifl e Club, I came to realize that we might take for granted the coaching skills we have learned. The developmental system and simple coaching techniques have become second nature for us here at the USAMU Interna- tional Rifl e team that develop our juniors much more effi ciently. In this article, I would like to go over some of the techniques we use for introducing new juniors to the sport and how to help those excel that have all ready been competing. First thing to understand is that shooting is a skill that can be taught like riding a bike, math- ematics or even basket weaving. I have heard many times that a junior has a “natural-born tal-

ent.” I would like to believe that their talent is based in part on the ability of the coach to intro- duce the fundamentals and the shooter’s ability to apply this knowledge in a dedicated and disciplined manner. If you look at the top shooters here in the U.S., many have talents outside of the sport. A lot of people know how Matt Emmons pitched a perfect game in baseball. I have person- ally taken many a-whooping from SSG Hank Gray on the golf course and SFC Eric Uptagrafft is pretty much a rocket scientist. They were all taught those skills and having the ability to take direc- tion, to be disciplined and able to execute is what allowed them to excel in those areas along with competitive shooting. With having that ability it then falls on

18 USA Shooting News | July 2013

the coach to not only have the knowledge, but also the ability to convey that knowledge as well. Just like the technical ap- proaches to shooting, there are many ways to approach coach- ing our sport. Whether you have a completely new sporter junior or an experienced precision junior, the direction to take may seem like a very daunting task. Here at the Ft. Benning Junior Rifl e Club we keep it very simple and I’ll fi rst talk about a brand new junior to the sport. We utilize a progressive shooting program that is very much like others you can fi nd. They will start off with safety classes followed by an introduction to the range and the rifl e they will use. Next they begin fi ring from the bench to understand the fundamentals of

this process, we fi nd positions that are comfortable for the ju- nior that are not adjusted further unless a situation presents itself and also continue to stress the importance of discipline and tak- ing good shots. Too many times as coaches we begin to change positions too early based on a poor performance when we need to just trust our initial setup and stress the fundamentals. Do not, however, use the fundamentals as a crutch. Many coaches at our local matches stress fundamen- tals to their juniors when in fact they need more technical work or general advice on a specifi c is- sue. Once our juniors complete this progressive program, we outfi t them with all the precision equipment and rifl e to begin pre- cision training.

For our precision shooters we

keep things very simple by ap- plying the approaches from our

Submitted photo

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