The “Truth” about Shot Process

The Truth

By Jim Henderson

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Technically speaking the truth is black or white. Something either happened or it didn’t. It either is or it
isn’t. But Jim, what about the famous “grey area”? Ah, now see in my opinion, that’s where humanity
comes in.
So let’s relate the “human” element of the truth, this grey area, to shooting.
I’m on the firing line and all things considered, everything is as well prepared as it can be. I’ve warmed
up and ready to start my training.
I lift, settle in my aiming area, apply trigger pressure while continuing to align the sights…pop! The shot
goes off. I go into follow through and realign the sights, re-acquire my holding area, call the shot…and
relax. This is my exact shot process and I followed it to the letter during that shot. I check the monitor.
It’s a 10, on call. I dump the information I just received from the monitor. I go into my waiting period
between shots. Ding! I feel it is time to shoot another shot. Lather, rinse, repeat. That’s my mantra. I do
the thing, I analyze (correct if needed), dump the result and start again.
So fast forward 25 shots.
I lift (didn’t really go as high as I normally do), settle in my aiming area (my hold is a little bigger than
when I started), apply trigger pressure (is my finger in the same place?), Sight alignment…holding area
(I’m a little low, don’t try to fix that with your wrist), jeez this should have gone off by now (trigger), I
really need to breath…pop, ok that wasn’t a horrible shot. Look down at the monitor and act shocked
when you see a wide 8 (everyone was watching me and Coach knows I did something different).
Immediately start another shot to show that last shot was caused by something other than me.
These are just some of the crazy things that have gone through my head, and not just in training!! I have
had very similar thoughts go through my head during matches as well.
So after all the mental gymnastics I just went through during that shot, how could I possibly expect a
good shot within my hold??? And how could I even remotely call it “ok that wasn’t horrible”??? So what
happened? What did I allow myself to do? The short of it is I was focused on other than what I should
have been, I got lost in the grey area. I knew it wasn’t a good shot from the lift but I kept going, hoping I
could get something good out of a mediocre application of a well proven process.
The gatekeeper to the Grey Area is acceptance. We start to accept minor deficiencies thinking we can fix
them mid shot because we don’t want to put this particular shot down, again. These aborted lifts
become cumulative, right? Instead of starting each lift as a new shot process, we start to focus on what’s
going wrong. Then if we get too far down the rabbit hole the emotions kick in. Anger, fear and
frustration are the typical first responders to a stressful moment.
So how do we remain true to our shot process with all these hounds at the gate to our focus? While I
believe the necessary defense mechanism is different for most shooters, this is where having a good
coach is imperative! Something as simple as having someone the shooter trusts to bounce ideas off or
just vent to is invaluable. The best situation would be someone local that can watch the shooter and
build the knowledge necessary to be a help to the shooter, and not just a spout of regurgitation from
the pages of the latest shooting fad. If that scenario isn’t feasible, today’s technology such as FaceTime
or some other form of VTC (video teleconference) can be nearly as good. The down side is that you may

need multiple cameras to catch all the needed angles of the shot. Even if the coaching contact is nothing
more than some texts that the shooter can send off during training and get nearly instant feedback from
the coach can be a big help in bringing that training session to a meaningful result, instead of just slingin
lead. The bottom line is find ways to make your coach part of your range time. You won’t regret it, I
promise. Maybe the only one you trust to coach you is you. In my opinion this isn’t the best plan but it
can still work to get you to a certain level. But in my years of watching shooters, these shooters are the
ones that plateau, maybe even at a reasonably high level, then either quit or never get any better
because they believe their way is the only way, and if they would just execute what they know how to
do, they would be legendary. Again I believe having a coach that you trust, AND ACTUALLY LISTEN TO,
can take a good shooter that has stalled in progression to being a great shooter.
Having a solid positive inner monolog will help you maintain your thought and shot processes during a
match. That positivity is something you have to believe and practice every day. I have watched shooters
be very positive before a match and preach the virtues of staying positive while shooting, only to watch
them implode as they shoot nearly every shot with emotions built from the past. When they talk to me
after the match and I mention they need to shoot with less emotion, they argue “I’m not shooting with
emotion, it’s more a release of emotion”! Being positive isn’t something you can just turn on and off. It’s
a lifestyle, a world view, a way to be. Sure there are times when negativity will find its way past your
positivity perimeter, that’s ok! If as humans we were perfect, I think we would be a very boring species!
So all in all what am I saying? What do these phrases “The Truth”, “The Grey Area”and“Positivity” mean
to me, and how do I apply them to shooting? The truth is that I know when I am or am not doing things
as they should be done. The truth is I make the decision to either plow on, or stop the bad process and
reset, then move on correctly. The truth is the gate to the Grey Area is always there, and with practice I
can choose to not open that gate by keeping my Key of Excuses in my pocket! The truth is I strive to be
positive every second of every day. I surround myself with positive people and do everything I can to not
interact with negative people. And yes in today’s world that is sometimes difficult, but as a very good
friend said to me once, “that’s no hill for a climber”. Always, always be a climber.