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shoot at their own pace. Each time they shoot a shot resulting in 10 points, they loudly call out each 10 as they shoot it. It is interest- ing to see someone get all the way to “Four!” and then lose to someone who later catches them because they couldn’t get that fi fth 10-point result. This drill allows us to “handicap” different ath- letes so that mixed groups may participate together. Some of the athletes only could count tens, others tens and nines, and still others,tens, nines and eights. This allows us to balance their perception of the diffi culty of the chal- lenge with their perception of their capabilities to meet the challenge. (This is also a critical component of high- level performance and of entering the fl ow state, so we are already setting the stage for greater things later in their development.) With such a long dose of

intensity, the athletes felt all the usual competition emotions -

joy, sadness,

elation, despair, frustration, you name it. Emotions ran high at times. We validated the normalcy of those emo- tions under pressure and ex- plained how to work through the feelings. They really chal-

About the Author

Based in the Atlanta, Georgia area, JP O’Connor (email: and blog: is involved in shooting as a competitor, offi cial, and coach. He is a former Assistant National Coach – U.S. Paralympics Shooting Team and ISSF Judge, serves on the National Coach Development Staff in both rifl e & pistol, and is Coach Emeritus of the NCAA rifl e and intercollegiate pistol teams at the University of North Georgia. He enjoys working with a number of pistol and rifl e athletes and junior club teams from around the country, ranging from beginners to the highly advanced, in training sessions, clinics, and one-on-one private coaching. Previous installments of this series, additional resources, and book suggestions may be found at http://www. and via his blog.

lenged themselves and kept coming back for more. As we kept going, the

athletes improved. They re- alized they could shoot well when they found an optimal rhythm (not too slow and controlling, not too fast and sloppy), gave up the per- ceived “control” they craved, and just shot. They were able to do this because their deeper mind was completely familiar with everything (po- sition, balance, grip, trigger, sights, process, etc.) and the athletes could take advan- tage of that deeper knowl- edge, which they had not previously understood. As the day went on, many

of the athletes wanted to raise their handicap level to make the drill harder. When the 12-year-old athletes started consistently beating everyone, they asked me to raise their lower limit from eight to nine. Eventually, those same two wanted their limit raised to ten, to match where we eventually had all the older kids. The very next round after giving everyone no handicap advantage, one of the 12-year-old athletes won the drill against all the more experienced and older athletes. On that same note, two

of the more experienced athletes; including a medal-

ist from this past summer’s Progressive-Position Pistol National Championship, de- cided to have a one-on-one challenge. They raised their lower limit to 10.4 in order to count. It took them awhile, but they both got their fi ve count! Another famous inten-

sity drill is called 5-and-0 or 3-and-0. This is a pairs game for two evenly-matched ath- letes. The score starts tied at 0-0 and someone is always at 0. After prep and sighters, the two athletes each shoot a shot. Whoever earns the higher score wins the shot and gets a point. (You can score by whole numbers, or by tenths if on electronic tar- gets. You can also set a rule that in order to count at all, the shot must be at least a certain value.) The score is now 1-0. They each shoot again. If the person with the lead again earns the higher score on that shot, the game score now goes to 2-0. Con- versely if the person in the lead has the lower score on the second shot, they lose their point and the game score goes back to 0-0. Re- member, someone must al- ways be at zero! First one to reach fi ve (or three) wins. When Jamie Corkish and

Matt Emmons were in col- lege, they would play this

game together often. Some- times, they would have to interrupt one game - which had already been going on for two or three hours - to go have dinner and come back to fi nish. That is how evenly matched they were. Imag- ine that: hours of intensity training where EVERY shot counts in a big way. This is just one of the many rea- sons those two are such great competitors and Olym- pic champions. This is training - not prac-

tice. Games like these al- most make competitions sound easy. Almost. Give these ideas serious consideration as you evalu- ate and plan your training and competitions. See the very end of the

original blog posting of this article for important notes of interest to athletes and coaches about education and learning.


ly/1zlA0yF Also be sure to check out additional articles and blog postings at the links below.

50 USA Shooting News | May 2015

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