Human Beings are amazing. We are so resilient and strong, and yet at the same time so fragile. Yet the great thing is that we can build on our strengths and grow out of these weaknesses. In general, we are adaptable. Adaptability; one of the reasons we can survive change. It is definitely on the big “Pros” list of skills when describing a person we know, but adaptability can also have its repercussions on our daily lives. We tend to get comfortable and may stop progressing. This is true with almost any action we take; we can spend year after year training and improving ourselves in weapon handling, or any sport or activity, but it is inevitable that we will, at some point, plateau.
Plateau…. Take a look at any activity. Body Building, Physical Training, the Arts, Education, Sports; any time hard work and change is involved you will find this phenomena lurking in the corner, waiting to put a halt to our gains. We are not only talking about a learning curve here. Yes we make large improvements in the beginning when we are new and it gets harder and harder to shave those seconds off when we are at the master level, but we are talking about plateau in the way we get stagnate, and cease to improve our skill level. Plateau comes in many forms. The cause may be that you have no room for improvement and have hit the ceiling, and can go no further, but this is rarely the case. We tend to get comfortable in the environment we have adapted to. We may even, at some point and for whatever reason, cease striving for perfection in our craft. Now, this is not to say that you positively have to take your fun weekend biking hobby and turn it into a painful obsession with making it to the biking nationals; there has to be a balance. But where does this balance lie??
Many times that question can be answered by deciding what our goals are and realizing what it is we want. Many of the shooters I compete with would like to be the best, but don’t actually want it; either because they know it is not for them, or they do want it, but not bad enough for it to count. We may be happy and content with the level of skill we have reached, and while maintaing this skill level, we move on to other things in our life, and broaden our horizons. This is fine, and is what many of us do. But this article is not for those who have no qualms about the slow of progression we find in our skill level when we reach a plateau. This article is for the many of us that have reached this area of our shooting career, and find ourselves disgruntled at the thousands of rounds we waste every month trying to improve and failing, or at least not succeeding, at progressing as fast as we had hoped. So for all of you, here are some quick tips for combatting plateau:
- The Love of the Game This is the reason most of us have picked up our hobby, in this case shooting. Like marriage counseling, we may need to simply re-find the reason we fell in love in the first place. Hollywood has its place, and while not the best form of weapon education it can totally help in this area. Watch an action movie or spy thriller and relish the fact that you do some of that same stuff every day when you go to the range or compete in a match. (But Please Don’t try jumping out of crashing helicopters, taking down the mob, or hacking the KGB.)
- Taking a Break This is one reason why we may have plateaued in the first place; we are burned out, and simply need to recover. Doing something 100% is stressful, and can quickly “suck the joy” out of an activity we once found fun. I will also say that even if we still love the activity, sometimes the best improvements are found after taking a break for a few days and recovering. When strength training, we often find that we will feel like Super Man (or Super Woman) during our off days, and this can enable Super Person to come back to training with a fresh body and a fresh attitude. Remember to take a break and enjoy the other aspects of life.
- Motivation This is the most surefire way to combat plateau. This is part of the reason the “Love of the Game” compels us to succeed in the first place; we are motivated. This motivation may spring from either need or desire. In some fields, we may need to be the best. Some elite members of our Armed Services train till their hands bleed; they need to be the best, and they understand that in the field they will die if they are not. For more of us, our motivations spring from our desire. Our desire for wealth, health, skills, and general prosperity can be a powerful motivator as well. So get excited about what you do. Get motivated! If you are not, or are not in a field where you need to be good at whatever skill you are plateauing in, then consider moving on and either finding a new job, or new hobby. Life is better when we go with what we are meant to do.
Ok, enough philosophy. Get out there and TRAIN!! 😀