The Goal

The Goal

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The art of the checklist

If you have never read The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, you should take the time to do so. Not only is it a superb and entertaining read it is also gives a brilliant account of how the intelligent and thoughtful use of a simple tool can significant improve process repeatability and outcome quality. Incredibly useful at work, but also with value for anyone who wants to do better at pretty much anything.

While process can be a dirty word in many organisations - a certain portion of the NHS I once worked with regarded any notion of consistent process as an affront to the professionalism of healthcare workers of all types - the fact is that organisations with well designed and implemented processes produce better and more consistent results than those which don't. Checklists are a simple and versatile tool which enable organisations to implement consistent processes. By contrast with the medical organisation I formerly worked with, a number of  professions regards checklists as being completely integral to their work and complementary to their professional skillset; pilots spring inevitably to mind, as do more enlightened portions of the medical profession, submariners and astronauts also feature. The key lesson is that consistent processes and checklists allow you to get the easy things right first time and free up time and mental space to think about the difficult stuff.

Have you ever driven to the range and not been able to shoot because you have forgotten a critical piece of equipment?


Have you ever been in a team match where an experienced shooter on the firing point has been called on to fire a sighter out of turn as a pilot shot only for it to plough into the ground in front of the target because their sights settings weren't verified?


Have you ever... I think you probably get the idea by now.

Where this is relevant to me is that I'm now preparing to attend the NZ Nationals down at Trentham; I've nearly finished loading my ammunition, and I'm continuing to keep up with my SCATT, but I'm going to need to start packing up in a few days for the long trip down to Upper Hutt. As this is a full day's drive from where I live in Waitakere (West Auckland if you insist) I'm quite keen not to forget anything! Here's my checklist:

Rifle Bag
  • Rifle
  • Foresight
  • Rearsight
  • Bolt
  • Bolt sleeve
  • Mirage band
  • Black electrical tape
  • Breech flag
  • Bedding bolt allen key
  • Cheekpiece allen key
  • Cheekpiece spacers
  • Bipod
  • Bipod bolt allen key
  • Cleaning Rod
  • Rod Guide
  • Jag
I don't shoot with the SCATT optical sensor. I just forgot to take it off before I took the photo.

Equipment Bag
  • Scope
  • Scope stand
  • Scope stand extension pole
  • Underlayer
  • Hoodie
  • Ear defenders
  • Ear plugs
  • Spare ear plugs
  • Pens & pencils
  • Scorecards
  • Headband
  • Shooting hat
  • Shooting glasses
  • Beer towels x 3
  • Glove
  • Dry tissues
  • Sight settings notebook
  • Small weather writer
  • Toolkit (spare allen keys, screwdrivers, small spirit level etc...)
  • 20 round ammo boxes x 2
  • Snapcap
  • Eye spray
  • Timer
  • Hand extractor
Spot the deliberate mistake.

  • Jacket
  • Sling (attached to jacket)
  • Matt
  • Ammunition
  • Cleaning Kit (breech stick, 4 x 2, cleaning fluid, q-tips etc..)
  • Tripod stool

There's always an "other" bucket in any MECE categorisation

Probably the most interesting part of pulling this together is that I was unable to remember every item without actually looking in my shooting bag by way of reminder, which to my mind is a pretty good demonstration of the need for an aide-memoire.


  1. Agree completely: Have a list, it's on my dropbox and can be accessed from anywhere there's a data signal (or my netbook).
    On the subject of preparedness, I'm always surprised how few people have a proper toolkit, and only have (for example) certain sizes of allen keys / screwdrivers, etc. A full set doesn't take much room, neither does a bolt cocking tool, etc, but enables you to do pretty much anything, regardless of whether you normally adjust it (foresight comes loose, rearsight plates need moving, etc...)

  2. "it's on my dropbox and can be accessed from anywhere there's a data signal"

    You won't have much luck at Bisley!

  3. Yep.. keep my checklists in my phone. So no need for a signal at Bisley. Each bag (as it is packed for flying) gets a packing list on an index card so after a long weekend (or weeks at Bisley) I can pack properly while I'm mentally exhausted.