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your shotgun and study the fl ight patterns of targets, think about questions you likely will be asked. Anticipate questions, just as you anticipate targets. Visual- ize your answers to all kinds of questions. Imagine how you will phrase answers and comments. Practice your answers, particu- larly if you anticipate a hostile environment. If you think you don’t know

vides an opportunity to usefully apply several important media skills.

Assume you are asked: “Are

you concerned about the nega- tive image guns can have?” Re- member your goal to be strategic in your answer requires that you carefully analyze the question and that you be painstakingly analytical in crafting your answer. Let’s examine and decon-

struct this question. It asks if you are concerned about some- thing. We fi rst note that being concerned is a vacuous and useless criteria for evaluating hu- man behavior. Being ‘concerned’ is cheap sentiment that has no cost. Nothing has ever been ac- complished just because some- one was ‘concerned.’ Thus it is both stunning and lamentable that so many media people ask that type of foolish question. Nevertheless, you have to reply, so what are you going to say? You must repel the power- ful tendency to offer a complex answer to a silly or empty ques- tion. Be strategic and analytical. One appropriate answer is, “Yes, I am concerned.” No doubt you

realize that such an answer is as vacuous as the question and does not advance your strategic purpose of supplying useful in- formation. Moreover, the answer does not advance the ethics and character of the shooting sports because it affi rms your concern about their negative attributes. If you can discipline yourself to be strategic and analytical, you can lucidly see that this moronic question provides an opportunity for you to shine like a rock star because you can counteract the negative part of the question and weave into your answer the many uplifting virtues of your sport. You can talk about the virtuous be- havior of preparing to excel, for example.

Rather than allowing

the question to place you on the defensive, use the question


address the positive attributes of the shooting disciplines. Here are suggested answers that are entirely responsive and appropriate, and illustrate how you take control of the issue and you defi ne the terms of the com- munication. You can say some- thing like: “I am not concerned with whatever negative images

42 USA Shooting News | July 2013 guns might have. Negative im-

ages are a superfi cial point of view. I am concerned about how the manipulation of gun issues undermines people’s abilities to enjoy the shooting sports inhibits people from learning about self- defense.”

I’m not saying my answer

is perfect, but I am confi dent you get the point. In this way, in a kind of verbal judo, you have transformed a silly at- tacking question into an op- portunity to affi rm positive as- pects of the shooting sports.

Apply to Media the Skills That Brought Your Shooting Success

“The most powerful person

is he who has himself in his own power.

” Seneca (5BC-65 AD) You know what it took to get

you onto the winner’s podium or to bring about your improve- ment. Apply those same skills to your engagement with the media. Here are a few skills and, as you think about them, I am confi dent other skills will come to mind. Be prepared. Just as you clean

what you would say when asked a specifi c question, then your de- fault position is chaos and dis- organization. Study other media events to familiarize yourself with what you are likely to experience. Talk to your colleagues; read in- terviews of your peers; think ac- tively in terms of what you want to say to your audiences rather than seeing yourself as a passive respondent to someone else’s desires, strategies and agendas.

A Few General Rules “In life, as in dance, grace glides on blistered feet.

Alice Abrams Don’t get into debates. Ex-

traordinary skill is required to be an effective debater. It is easy to yell and call names, but to iden- tify the fallacies in an opponent’s argument and to persuade peo- ple to your side is, frankly, diffi - cult. Possessing an encyclopedic memory, thorough preparation, the ability to instantly draw upon vast amounts of data from mem- ory and having an exquisitely nimble and agile intellect are the minimum requirements for suc- cessfully winning an argument. Few folks have these skills. Even millionaire TV pundits do not, by and large, possess them. Do not engage in a debate or argument unless you are confi dent you can decimate your opponent in the minds of the relevant audience. Don’t be sarcastic and, ex- cept in the rarest instances, don’t try to be funny. I’ve inter- viewed dozens of judges in prep-

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