Off-Season Checklist

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rounds downrange are only part of a good training solution to improve for next year.

By Chris Andersen, 3-Gun Nation Pro

So the season is winding down, and the holidays are upon us. I am guessing you are looking forward to relaxing and taking a little break from shooting. My advice to you if you want to keep improving: Don’t!

The off-season is when the real gains in any sport are made. So now is the perfect time to take a look at where you are, and put a plan together outlining where you would like to be in your shooting for 2014. 

Are you happy with what you’ve accomplished this season?  Comfortable with the match finishes you have achieved this year?  If the answer is yes, then there is no reason to read any further.  Enjoy relaxing holidays, Christmas dinners, and football games, and we will see you when it gets warm.  But be forewarned that you might be playing catch-up with the guys that put the extra work in during the off-season when the shooting starts next year.

Here are a few ideas to get you started this winter:

Set Goals

Resisting the urge to sit on the couch all winter will pay dividends next season if you stick with it. Take a look at where you are now, and where you want to be when next season starts, and put together a comprehensive plan of action to achieve those goals.  The down time during the off-season should give you plenty of opportunities to put a structured plan in place and then execute it.

Put in Practice Time

Dry fire, firearm manipulation, shotgun loading, etc.—winter is perfect for this sort of practice. We’d all rather be at the range, but depending on your climate, these may be your only practice options. So look at that as an opportunity to spend time on types of practice that you might have been neglecting.

Use the winter to keep your fundamental skills sharp, and spend much needed training time on those problem areas. Order a few training manuals. There are a lot of good books out there from top shooters with great indoor training techniques and dry-fire drills to put to use in the coming months.

Get Fit

Hit the gym and start that fitness regimen that you have been talking about. Many people start off the New Year 5-10 lbs heavier than the last because it is very easy to get sedentary and eat lots more during the winter months. Why not get a head start on things this winter and come out next season stronger and faster than ever before versus taking a step back?

Test New Equipment

There are always new pieces of gear and new techniques coming into the game, and hopefully you have resisted the urge to make big changes in your equipment during the season. Too often people try and inject equipment into their match gear during the season and end up paying for it with in-match malfunctions and failures that end up costing you good finishes.

Now is the time to try that new piece of kit you have been thinking about. I do my best to  start with new pieces of equipment as early as possible in the off season to ensure that it is reliable and will not let me down when game time rolls around next season. The more time you are able to spend with new gear the more you are going to be able to trust it when you need to.

Now is the Time!

If you compete a lot, the shooting season is typically going to be when you put the skills to use that you have trained up during down time. It is very difficult to advance significantly during mid-season, especially if you have a hectic competition schedule. So take this down time and use it wisely. If you don’t, I can guarantee that someone else will!

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