How to Keep Range Time Fresh and Exciting
Almost everyone has heard the adage “Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, some things in life just can’t happen without work.Our ability to enjoy work depends mostly on our mindset, but there are other ways to make work more enjoyable. Whether you put in time on the range to train for competition or just to better your skills, enjoying that time can be a challenge. Finding enjoyment can be difficult if we get stuck in a repetitive pattern. I’m going to share a few ways to keep range time fresh!
Focus: from planning through execution
What are your goals for your range time? Is it to zero a rifle? Is it to practice a skill with live fire that you’ve already practiced with dry-fire? Whatever your goal, go to the range with that goal or task in mind. Work toward it with real intent. If it’s to zero your rifle, then make sure you have all the right tools. If it’s to practice a skill with live fire, then set up a camera and film yourself, run a timer, keep notes. Don’t just go through the motions.
On a recent hunting trip, I was struck with the fact that what makes any endeavor a success varies so little in life. Planning, enthusiasm, tenacity, and determination to squeeze every bit of good you can from your situation - that’s what breeds success. In competition, we see that success born of sincere effort (AKA: work) happens when we purposefully plan and execute tasks. So be mindful. Be focused!
Find a Challenge
Sometimes practice can leave us feeling deflated. Or zeroing the family’s hunting rifles can seem like a chore. Make a challenge out of your work. Don’t just zero the rifle, find a target afterward and shoot it with your newly zeroed gun. Maybe it’s just a small rock in the berm at 200 yards. Don’t just do the work, enjoy the fruits of your labor too! Challenge your kids to hit it with the gun you just zeroed.
Maybe you’re working on a small part of practicing a skill. I often work on speed between shooting positions, and let accuracy be what it is. I’ll observe it, but not focus to make that my goal. Then I will switch. The next session or day, I will focus on accuracy and just let the movement be what it is. By taking a smaller slice of what you are doing and picking out exactly what you can improve on is how most serious competitors become great. They don’t just practice everything at once - they might practice a draw 200 times to focus on their hand position and building the grip, yet never fire a round. Staying interested through that much work takes conscious goal-setting and mindful intent to challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to do it!
Shift your focus
We shoot several different disciplines in our family. The accuracy needed when shooting a pistol in USPSA and IPSC can vary greatly from the pure speed of pistol in 3 gun. But changing to another platform or discipline can often help us diagnose deficiencies or discover skills we weren’t aware of.
In preparation for Rifle World Shoot this past summer, we practiced many days with a 9mm PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine). Almost two months later my son, Tim, then went to PCC nationals and finished 3rd. He had hardly touched the PCC in the interim. But the transfer of skills from a similar platform to another can be very helpful. It can also make practice FUN. 9mm rounds are quieter, much more economical and create less wear and tear on our steel targets. If you are limited to an indoor range that doesn’t allow rifles, but want to work with a rifle, you can grab a PCC and get some time with a gun that is very much like a rifle.
Most beginning shooters can shoot faster and more accurately with a PCC than a pistol. You can learn about how your body moves, how to be very aggressive going from target to target. Or, maybe you learn that you’re stance changes. There is always something to learn when you switch from one platform to another. There are things that will carry over, and things that will change. Those small differences can teach us things we didn’t know. Imagine taking your wife to the range and seeing her set up to shoot a pistol - maybe she’s not shot much and takes it very slow. Now imaging handing her a PCC in 9mm and seeing her shooting target after target, and enjoying that she’s hitting things. Maybe the difference she sees is just that it’s easier to go fast with a carbine. For anyone facing “range day” and not feeling excited, change something! Maybe for one day, just change the gun you bring.
Speaking of shifting focus: I am fortunate to practice and share what I do with my three sons and husband. In the middle of preparing for some serious work last week, middle son, Sean, bought an Enfield rifle. It was as if someone shouted “squirrel” and they immersed in every pull of the trigger. The day for them was exciting and new. I think that like everything in life, if we don’t stop and find something new every so often...well, we lose out on that joy we experience the first time we do something. Whether that’s shooting a new gun, or hunting new land. And we all have just so many days on earth, we might as well make them enjoyable!
Thanks for reading, and make sure you’re following Winchester for more ideas on how to keep your range time something you look forward to!
5 Ways to Keep Range Time Fresh:
1 - Alternate speed and accuracy. We will often run the same drill two or three different ways. First, maybe focus on speed from position to position. Second, focus on accuracy by adding a no-shoot or increasing distance. Third – run things in reverse. This is a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses.
2 - Find new targets. We often print targets when we have specific goals in mind. Our “go to” targets are from Tactical Performance Center. But you can find many to print online.
3 - Bring a training partner. This doesn’t even have to be someone who shoots. Maybe it’s your friend, dad, mom, dog...maybe they video for you, maybe you teach them something new. But sharing the things you enjoy only makes them better!
4 - Shoot a different gun. We have competitions that we constantly train for. So, shooting a different gun can be a cross-training tactic. But often it’s a way to focus on some of the same fundamentals, and give our bodies a break and our minds a rest. Whenever we feel burned out on practice, one of the things we like to do is shoot something different.
5 - Sign up for a competition. If you have always been a “plinker,” someone who doesn’t compete and just enjoys shooting, consider a low-key shooting match like Steel Challenge or a local trap night. The camaraderie can be a source of new friends, and the gauge of your shooting is both motivating, rewarding, and humbling. It also will give you concrete ideas on things to head home and practice on.