New to coaching air rifle team and need help.


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jssbastiat
November 12, 2010, 03:08 PM
I live in the Alaska bush, off the road system and am coaching our air rifle team. I have the NRA coaching packets and have been teaching the basics, but after 1.5 months, my kids scores are at a stand still.

I need some video's online, forums for them to read/post (hopefully a high school or college forum, but this is fine), etc...

One good idea I read about was to put a dime on the end of the barrel and have them dry fire, trying not to knock off the dime....I need to do some breathing exercises, but, have not seen a 'team' activity, etc, so I need some ideas on specifics to work with them...

Any help, links, etc would be great...my kids hunt moose, etc and are good shots, but I have no training for competition, just my hunting experience which only goes so far...

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10-96
November 13, 2010, 06:23 AM
PM Sent.

EDIT:
Also, google for and dig up just about anything you can find relating to the Army Marksmanship Unit- manuals, books, videos, etc.

9mmepiphany
November 13, 2010, 01:17 PM
One of the greatest aids to competition shooting is the ability to visualize and engage the subconscious mind in the trigger press.

Try having the kids close their eyes and visualize their sights on a target, in perfect alignment. Then have them press off the shot without the sights, still in their mind, moving...repeat 10K times. Actually it starts taking after a few hundred, it becomes automatic at about 8K. You no longer wait for the sights to align before deciding to press the trigger...when the sights are aligned, the shot is already on it's way. It is a Zen like experience

It is easy to explain, what is hard is making them believe that it works

Floppy_D
November 13, 2010, 03:35 PM
I competed in air rifle for four years in high school (NJROTC,) and had an oustanding coach, a retired MCPO. Here's the things that I remember helping me the most.

- At the end of practice, we'd spend about 20 minutes tossing around medicine balls (they were really burlap sacks full of sand and wrapped in duct tape, he was a cheap old fart.) Tossing them straight up, back and forth to one another, holding them straight out in front of us for a full minute, you get the picture. It didn't build much bulk, but it really toned the muscles required to hold something steady. He swore it was essential.

- He'd open every practice with a short talk about breath control, sight picture, and trigger squeeze. It was the same thing every time, but it really drove the point home. While he talked, he encouraged us to relax and practice our controlled breathing. He'd talk through the perfect shot, one step at a time. It took five mniutes, but afterwards I felt very relaxed and focused. Zen is a good word for it.

- We put our targets in binders and took notes on them (jerked the trigger, having a bad day, etc.) He tracked our progress and knew each of our weakpoints. I had the sight picture down, but I tended to jerk the trigger. He had me do extra dryfire work until I got the knack down, and it helped. Being able to track my progress and see gradual improvements was encouraging. When I was in a rut, he'd come up with a new exercise to work on it.

Good on you for coaching air rifle. It's a lot of work, but you're making a good impact on these kids. Good luck!

M-Cameron
November 13, 2010, 06:05 PM
when they are in practice....have them try something new every day.....change stance, change hold, change breathing......until they find something that works for them......and then find something else to change up.....until they run out of things to change...


.....i mean, 1.5 months isnt really a whole lot of time to get stuff down packed....i know for me.....its taken me nearly 2.5 months of practice to see a noticeable difference in my scores........

...just take it easy and keep it fun......if they feel its a chore shooting, they arent going to shoot as well....if at all.....


have a "relaxed" day once and a while, shoot some pop cans, some fun targets, and not really focus on training.

Lovesbeer99
November 15, 2010, 08:55 PM
I just started teaching air rifle this past year also. My kids have gotton better but not great yet. The CMP has some great articles on coaching, try them.
Also just some good NRA High Power instruction can help. Jim Owens has a series of 3 books that would help any shooter. Get them, read them, then teach them.

taliv
November 15, 2010, 11:22 PM
welcome to THR, and thanks for taking the time to coach!

another thing to try is having the kids coach each other. get the older ones to attempt to diagnose and correct shooting techniques for the younger ones. it will help the older ones' shooting more than the younger :)

Soupy44
November 16, 2010, 07:50 PM
jssbastiat,

First off, what part of Alaska are you located? I know someone up there who is a former collegiate rifle coach and I might be able to convince him to stop by.

I used to run a junior program myself as well as helped coach at the collegiate level. I've had a number of kids qualify for the Junior Olympics at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, many who are currently on collegiate rosters, and many who are receiving scholarships.

Since you have a new program, I'm guessing nearly all if not all of your kids would be considered beginners. I'll also address some previous posts in this thread, many of which I respectfully disagree with.

Visualization will be a great tool for the kids in the future, but at the moment, their concept of a good shot is not exactly a model to repeat. You can fix that by pairing a kids together with a spotting scope. For the first target of a practice, the spotter tells the shooter the score and direction (12 high, 6 low, 3 right, etc.) of each shot fired. Then have them switch. For the second target for each shooter, have the shooter call his/her shot after each shot. This will create a link between what they see in the sights and how the shot turns out.

DO NOT ENCOURAGE STRENGTH BUILDING AT ALL!!! I cannot stress this enough for beginners. Beginners need to be focusing on the fundamentals of breath control, trigger control, sight picture, follow through, and a good position built on BONE SUPPORT. It sounds counter intuitive, but the way you improve your positions is be learning to relax and balance. Rifle matches are too long for muscles to be used to hold the rifle up. They tire quickly. Bones never tire.

A talk at the beginning of each practice about the fundamentals is a good idea, as well as the notebook with targets. Also in the notebook, put each kid's settings for the rifle. This means they use the same position each time they shoot. For sporter air rifle, this will probably only be the sling length and where on the forestock the support hand is.

Changing positions up every practice is precisely the wrong direction to go. You need to stress, with the use of the shooting diary, learning to do the exact same thing each and every practice. After all, isn't the whole idea of the sport doing the exact same thing 20 shots in a row. Before a shooter can figure out if something works, they have to be able to repeat it consistantly. For advanced shooters, I have them try a new hand position or setting for a month to see how it does. For beginners, try two practices in a row. You have to make sure the novelty of the newness isn't the source of the immediate improvement. Also, kids tend to concentrate more when you change something, meaning they actually do what they're supposed to when you change something rather than concentrating all the time. Once the newness wears off, then you'll see the true impact of the change.

In practice, focus on shooting groups (3, 5 or 10 shots in one bull). The idea is to get the kids to put 5 shots in top of each other. Don't worry if the sights are off, they can be moved. Have a competition with the last bull of practice: who can put two shots the closest together.

Good luck with your program.

chrome_austex
November 16, 2010, 07:53 PM
PM sent!

chrome_austex
November 16, 2010, 07:57 PM
Re: Soupy

I agree, for the most part you should be focusing on using less muscles and not strength training, but .. depending on the kid, some supplemental strength training may help.

Changing positions isn't maybe ideal for consistency practice, but it may be needed just to keep the kids engaged and having fun (which should be #1 priority).

The Wiry Irishman
November 16, 2010, 09:04 PM
One of the greatest aids to competition shooting is the ability to visualize and engage the subconscious mind in the trigger press.

Try having the kids close their eyes and visualize their sights on a target, in perfect alignment. Then have them press off the shot without the sights, still in their mind, moving...repeat 10K times. Actually it starts taking after a few hundred, it becomes automatic at about 8K. You no longer wait for the sights to align before deciding to press the trigger...when the sights are aligned, the shot is already on it's way. It is a Zen like experience

It is easy to explain, what is hard is making them believe that it works

I heard almost these exact same words from an NRA board member, Walt Walter, when we hosted the Club Collegiate National Championships last year. He's coached for the better part of forever, and has more than one student in the Olympics, and he was kind enough to sit down with the Purdue shooters and give us a talk on mental discipline in marksmanship.

9mmepiphany
November 16, 2010, 09:35 PM
Thank you, I seldom get a response to this...it is a higher level of shooting.

It is one of the great unprotected secrets to shooting that needn't be hidden... because few want to believe it and fewer still can accomplish it

The Wiry Irishman
November 16, 2010, 10:10 PM
Thank you, I seldom get a response to this...it is a higher level of shooting.

It is one of the great unprotected secrets to shooting that needn't be hidden... because few want to believe it and fewer still can accomplish it

Walt was telling us about his latest student, a young woman who qualified for the last Olypmics. His biggest point was that mental discipline is what separates good shooters from champions. He used her to illustrate this point. He had her practice as you described, both with trigger control and with stance/natural point of aim. After about a year of this, he moved her to live ammo. She had built up such mental discipline and such a high subconcious understanding of what a good shot felt like, that she could easily and repeatedly shoot 8's or better... with her eyes closed.

Needless to say, talking to him was one of the most interesting half-hours of my life.

Mike OTDP
November 16, 2010, 10:13 PM
Go over to www.targettalk.org Start reading. Ask questions.

Then read all the stuff at Pilkington Competition. Most of it is pistol oriented, but you will find enough that is useful.

9mmepiphany
November 16, 2010, 10:26 PM
She had built up such mental discipline and such a high subconcious understanding of what a good shot felt like, that she could easily and repeatedly shoot 8's or better... with her eyes closed.

Needless to say, talking to him was one of the most interesting half-hours of my life.
I can imagine

The mistake often made by shooters is believing that improving has something to do with hitting the target...it is all about running the platform. This is more applicable with handguns than rifles, but is extremely applicable when shooting air rifles/pistols...as follow-through is much more important with the slower moving projectile

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