The Goal

The Goal

Monday, 9 November 2015

When work gets in the way...

Unfortunately most of us have to work for a living, and sometimes work will get in the way; however there is at least some good news. Quite a few top-flight shooters (in the UK at least) appear to have demanding careers, so it is possible to combine work and fullbore rifle shooting in a way that is probably less doable were you to be a rower or distance runner. It goes without saying that training effectively, rather than merely practising, will give you even more of a fighting chance of maintaining your level of performance when times are tough.

I reckon there are two main strategies:
  1. To hell with work. If they really wanted you to work that hard, they'd pay you more.
  2. Minimise the effects by focussing on the training you can do in otherwise unproductive time.
The first approach is perfectly reasonable. Shooting is far more important than work, after all; however when it is employed literally as a tactic it is probably only really sustainable in the short term. Keep this up for too long and your employer is likely to pay you considerably less. And stop giving you work entirely. As a managed strategy, it can be sustainable in the longer-term. I know several highly intelligent and extremely capable people who have made a deliberate choice not to pursue as challenging a career as they are capable of to allow them to focus instead on their sport or other things that matter to them more. That said, be aware that this must be a conscious choice and you will have to accept the consequences. A price will be paid in reduced salary growth and less interesting work, both of which may be beneficial to your shooting career in the longer-term. Let us not forget that shooting is getting damned expensive and it is perfectly possible to compete at the top level in shooting into your sixties.

The second approach is to reorganise your daily routine to fit shooting training in and to de-emphasise your daily activities which get in the way. Practice visualisation on the train* into work; do some SCATT last thing at night or first thing in the morning. Stop watching crap on TV or going to the pub. For example, I'm running the Queenstown Marathon in two weeks' time and to fit all the training in, I started running the 9 miles back from the centre of Auckland to the train station where I park the car in the mornings: Time spent commuting by train ~55 mins; time spent running 1hr 20mins; I get a 3:1 return on the additional 25 mins added to my day. This is the algebra of high performance that you will have to perform.

What I have tended to find is that I now need to spend less time training to maintain a given level of performance, which means that I can more easily accommodate surges in demand for my time from work. That said, further improvement has become harder to come by and constant repetition of technique has less value, and to make any such improvement I'm going to need to shock the system, which is probably going to require me to make a massive change in my level of commitment, training and a consequent easy patch at work.

* Or write blog posts, as in this case.


  1. One major thing to add:
    3. Recognise the difference between a job and a career.
    Providing you put enough time into a job that your career still looks good, and you continue to look employable on your CV, changing jobs isn't a bad thing. It usually will lead to a pay rise (if you play your cards right and actually ARE good at what you do) and will broaden your breadth of experience - neither bad things.
    I've switched jobs for tours (as holiday has run out and won't be granted) I think 4 or 5 times. In all cases they've either capitulated and given me unpaid leave (once) or I've left, and been invited to come back afterwards (which I've taken up twice, once with very good terms and once with a pay increase above what I'd have got if I'd stayed).

    Also, massive agreement with both ditching the TV (freecycled it over a decade ago, haven't missed much as pretty much anything your really WANT to watch can be got after the event via the internet) and with building exercise into your daily routine (if your commute takes 45-60 mins, and it's an hour and a quarter to cycle, that's 75 mins exercise at a cost of 15-30 mins...)

  2. Yes I enjoy reading these post. I went down to 4 days a week to train each Monday and it really worked for me. It made me more positive to go to work each Tuesday and I felt so good in myself after a full days training each Monday. I agree it is hard to work out how to shock the system, I am still trying to figure that one out. Maybe we should look to other sports for inspiration. I have now entered unemployment and trying to figure out how to train full time, something that is very hard to figure out as I haven't found any real resources to help in that aspect. Alex