Tactical Pointers

Different Interpretations of Shooting Notes

Živa Dvoršak

June 7, 2024

The first version of the Slovenian Shooting Notes was published in the summer of 2018. Due to the great interest of foreign shooting colleagues, the English version quickly followed, as did the German, Spanish, French and Japanese versions. Over 2,000 shooters worldwide use Shooting Notes; we have changed its look and redesigned certain things with each printing. The ideas for improvements and rearrangements can only come from use, both from our experience and from other shooters’ feedback. Since we prioritise sharing knowledge to help the shooters progress as much as possible, user feedback means a lot to us. At the same time, it’s always interesting to hear how each person understands the chapters of the Shooting Notes and the individual instructions for completing the analysis form. I want to share a few interpretations of Shooting Notes that I found particularly interesting to show key differences in understanding our main message and the purpose of using this tool.

Searching for Solutions: How I Plan to Reach My Daily Task and Goal

The first third of the form of Shooting Notes is to be filled out before the shooting session. This is the part of the pre-training routine that brings you mentally and physically to the shooting range, leaving your (daily) burdens outside and focusing on the task ahead of you. However, the shooter who shared her feedback also included the part dedicated to finding solutions in her pre-shooting routine. Instead of filling out this section after the practice to write about the parts she still needs to work on, she is using it to describe the steps she needs to take to achieve the training task. Her way is not incorrect, and after we discussed it, she was determined that this way suited her and she finds the more extended reflection before training much more beneficial for her training. After our talk, she understood the goals of that section and incorporated them in the following part of the form.

An open copy of Shooting Notes with a hand on top holding a pen starting to write in it.

Why Is There Not More Space to Record Individual Shots?

Because keeping statistics doesn’t get you very far. It only gets you to turn the numbers over in your head. Although the numbers in the competition determine your rank, it is the last thing that will allow you to progress and move those numbers higher. There is enough space on the form to write the result; in addition, the comment section is also suitable for some longer result write-ups if it is really necessary. The Shooting Notes form instead encourages shooters to start thinking about their shooting proactively and learn through the notes to identify their strengths and elements they still need to improve.

No Way We Are Always Searching for Solutions at Our Shooting Sessions

Yes, you are! This comment is the most interesting as far as understanding the instructions and our idea of the form goes. In the previous section, I mentioned that we want to teach the shooters to be proactive. At the same time, we want to show that this can be achieved by how the form is filled out. Let me explain. You are a victim of your own vocabulary. This might sound harsh, but it is true. You emotionally respond to the world based on the way you describe it. Not based on the way the world is, not the way you believe the world is, but the words you use to describe your circumstances. Those directly impact how you feel and the actions you take. That is why it’s essential to select your words wisely, whether when coming off the line, talking to your fellow shooters or your coach, writing observations down in your Shooting Notes, and even when you think and speak to yourself privately.

Perhaps you don’t plan your practice to searching for specific solutions. But even when you have a bad day, and it seems like all of your shots were missing the centre, you can at least take that little win and write about your shooting in such a way that your mind will perceive as if you have control over it and that you are working on every aspect to become better shooters. For example, if your hold was terrible and you might have even gotten frustrated over this, you could be tempted to write down something like, “I hate shooting; my hold is so bad, my rifle is constantly shaking, and there is just no way I can fix this!” and then close the notebook and walk home, still feeling frustrated and seeing your rifle shake in your mind. If such an approach continues, you start coming to the range with an already shaky rifle in your mind. So, again, your words matter! Instead of being a victim of your words, use them to your advantage. Say, “I’m searching for a solution on how to steady my hold.” Even if this is all you write down and you don’t know how to make your hold better yet, you will walk off the range and, on some level, think about finding a way to still your rifle. Next time when you walk in, you might discover where the issue is.

Norwegian sport shooter Jeanette Hegg Duestad lying on green floor writing in her Shooting Notes after a match.
Every shooter has their own style of shooting and of writing!

There’s Not Enough Space to Write down Everything That’s on My Mind

When I hear such comments, I ask the shooter in what section they usually run out of space. The answers go something like: “Especially when it’s stressful, even off the range, I feel the need to pour it out on paper.” This is great, is my reply to them. Our emotions need space and time to express themselves, so that we let them out and do not carry them around with us at the risk of bursting out where they are not needed. However, Shooting Notes is not a place to do that. Shooting Notes show us how to be proactive about our shooting, so we also shape our words thoughtfully and create images in our minds that are motivating and encouraging. As we also advise shooters to thumb through their previous records in their Shooting Notes from time to time, seeing an intense outpouring can cause the shooter to relive it all over again which would not do any good to their self-image.

Morning Pages to Get Your Emotions and Overthinking out

Therefore, I recommend writing about emotions in a special notebook, which many call morning or evening pages, to get your feelings out on paper. “Whatever-hour” pages you decide on, allow your hand to write down your thoughts and feelings with no extra thinking. Set yourself a timer or a number of pages and write without any particular form or style. Furthermore, writing such pages releases your emotions and stops overthinking and any dwelling and ruminating thoughts. In the case of this type of writing, you never go back and reread it, so there is no chance of falling back and carrying those emotions with you, especially to the range. At the range, you are focused on your shot process, and you just shoot.

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