General Dwight D. Eisenhower the allied World War II commander noted that plans were useless, but the process of planning was indispensable. So it is with pretty much any training plan; the value for the rifle shooter is as much in thinking about what one wants to achieve and what you're prepared to do in order to achieve it, as much as it is in creating a sequential list of activities to follow.
To date, I have set out some outcome goals that I wanted to achieve in 2013 together with the performance goals which identify the level of performance I'll need to achieve; however to this point I have not really set out what it is that I'm going to do.
I want to...
1. Win the CWG Trials
2. Come in the top 25 in all 3 Bisley majors
To do this, I will need to...
a. Average 49.5 or better at short range
b. Average 47.5 or better at long range
c. Make sure my kit is in top condition
d. Improve my cardiovascular fitness
e. Improve my injury-resistance
I need to take my performance goals and work out what level of training and other actions I'm going to need to complete in order to fulfil them. This is very much where the art of planning comes in, rather than the pure science. How much practice does one need to do in order to average 49.5 at short range? Damn good question; and the answer is going to be very different depending on your previous level performance, flaws in technique and level of talent, for lack of a better word. Just as working up to running 100+ miles per week isn't going to turn you into an Olympic marathoner overnight, Mo Farah isn't going to have to break much of a sweat in training to beat me in the marathon no matter how hard I train over the next 12 months. These things are what we in the trade call path dependent, they take time and the outcome depends very much on the route you've taken to get there.
Put simply, the route out of the planning quandary is to take a wild-ass guess at how much training you're going to need to do. To set out my process goals I did some reading, spoke to an awesome physio (she knows who she is) and looked at how much training I had done in the past to achieve similar levels of performance. I created the following process goals...
I. Train on a SCATT for at least 20 shots at least 3 times every week
ii. Train livefire at least twice every calendar month from March - September
iii. Monitor my performance by writing in my training diary after every practice
iv. Practise visualisation for at least 10 shots four times per week
v. Check my kit after every training session and put it away carefully
vi. Get my rifle checked by my armourer at the start of the season
vii. Jog at least twice per week, covering at least 5 miles in total*
viii. Warm up and warm down before and after every training session and match
Dear reader, I know what you're thinking at this point "Woah, hold your horses a moment Gaz! Didn't you just admit back there that the process goals you have created are little more than a guess." In my case, there's a bit more analysis to it than that because I've been doing this for a while, but if this is the first time you've created yourself a training plan using my approach, then yes, this is essentially correct.
At this point I ask you to consider two things: Firstly, what alternatives do you have? And secondly, I refer you back to the future US president's comments at the start of the post. You've got a plan that you know is going to change as you try to implement it and learn more about yourself and your shooting. This gives you a framework to start to measure and understand what you're going to need to do to hit your mark; and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the value of the planning process.
We've planned the work, but I'll talk a little bit more about working the plan next week.
*I slightly over-performed on this one. The running got a little out of hand and I now run about 50 miles per week, have done three half marathons, one full marathon, am training for my second marathon and have entered my first 50 mile trail ultramarathon.