4 Types of Goals to Help You Shoot Better

4 Types of Goals to Help You Shoot Better

Go Getter.

High Achiever. 

Driven.

That's me. Being a lifelong competitive shooter taught me the benefits of having something to aim for (pun intended). 

I can look back and honestly say I achieved more as a shooter because I set bold goals. And sure, I fell short of achieving some of my boldest goals. But that does not detract from what I did achieve or the effort I put in. (Curious about my junior shooting career? Check out my shooting accomplishments and read more about me in my "Start Here" post.)

Emily Houston Monroe - lifelong target shooter (and occasional target collector)! While learning to shoot I decided to work hard so that I would not have to spend many more matches as the target collector. I was eager to get started as a competitor!

Emily Houston Monroe - lifelong target shooter (and occasional target collector)! While learning to shoot I decided to work hard so that I would not have to spend many more matches as the target collector. I was eager to get started as a competitor!

I want to encourage you to consider setting some goals for yourself, and walk you through what types of goals to set to get you where you want to go.

Why Set Goals?

Goals are important for managing and measuring performance, whether that's in the shooting sports, school, or work. Here are some of the benefits of having goals:

  • Know where you’re going!

  • Measure progress and feel like a winner just by “doing” the process!

  • Achieve things you previously only wished for!

4 Types of Goals to Set

There are four main types of goals to set that will help propel your shooting performance. These goals form the acronym "BUMP". The majority of the goals you set will be fueled by your biggest, boldest goals.

  1. Big, bold (but realistic) goals (1 - 2 of these)
  2. Unusual, but achievable goals (2 of these per "B" level goal)
  3. Medium milestone goals (3 of these per "U" level goal)
  4. Process goals (5 - 10 of these per "M" level goal)

Walking Through the Goals: a Personal Example

Start by setting one or two big, bold goals. These can be related to an outcome, but must still be realistic both in scope and the time to achieve them. A personal example for me would be "I want to achieve my gold pin in the USA Archery AAP indoor compound bow division within the next three indoor seasons." The reason this goal works is that it is specific, it is realistically achievable, and it is measurable. To get a gold pin, I need to shoot a 290/300 in a "pin shoot," and I need to have achieved every other pin level along the way. The chart from USA Archery shows the different archery disciplines and the scores required to get to each pin.

There are a couple shortfalls to avoid when setting these big, bold goals. First, when I say it needs to be realistic, that means it needs to be within the realm of possibility for you individually (even if it would stretch your limits). Something I avoided is saying "I want to go to the Olympics for archery with my compound bow." It is simply not achievable - there is currently no compound archery event in the Olympics and I have no control over making that happen.

A second pitfall to avoid is being too quick or too slow with your timing. If I gave myself my whole lifetime to achieve my goal, I have no incentive to train like I mean it. But if I said I would do it next season, I would be putting too much pressure on myself (I'm having a baby this summer, after all!). Instead, I think it is bold but reasonable to achieve the Olympian pin within the next three indoor archery seasons.

My big, bold goal is: I want to achieve my Olymian pin in the USA Archery AAP indoor compound bow division within the next three seasons.

The second type of goal to focus on is something unusual. These two to three unusual goals have to be linked to my big bold goal and rare enough that I have to work hard to achieve them. The unusual goal might be directly related to the bold goal or something only tangentially related that would still help me progress toward the bold goal.

Two unusual goals for me would be:
1. Shoot in a larger-venue indoor match (to practice shooting under pressure in the same shooting discipline as my bold goal)
2. Learn to cut and fletch my own arrows

These unusual goals are intentionally uncommon enough that I have to go out of my way to achieve them. Neither goal will just happen by my every day actions. But they are both linked to my bold goal of achieving my gold pin in compound.

If I want to shoot in a bigger indoor archery tournament, I will need to put in the work to perform well there (more on that in the lower-level goals), so this goal will motivate me to practice. I will also get to meet a bunch of good archers. I can see what works well for them and get some tips and tricks that will help me toward my bold goal. Also, if I learn to set up my own arrows, I can get really into the "tuning" aspect of archery shooting, and hopefully my new skill will help me increase my scores. That in turn will help me achieve my gold pin.

DIY bow maintenance, including setting up my own arrows, is part of my goal-setting strategy to achieve more as a competitive compound archer. (The How-To Gun Girl photo)

DIY bow maintenance, including setting up my own arrows, is part of my goal-setting strategy to achieve more as a competitive compound archer. (The How-To Gun Girl photo)

The next type of goal is a milestone. Setting three of these per unusual goal helps in two ways. First, figuring out a milestone goal helps break down the bigger, unusual goal into processes or techniques to work on. Second, setting milestones helps you feel like you are achieving things along the way to your bold goal. This is critical to staying motivated when the bold goal might take a few years!

Three milestone goals for my first unusual goal (shooting in a big indoor tournament) would be:

  1. Commit to joining an archery league with other competitive archers and shoot frequently.
  2.  - 6. Achieve each pin along the way to gold (in my case, red, yellow, bronze, and silver - this is like four separate milestones!)
The USA Archery AAP pins help me set goals for archery achievement. My big goal is to get to the highest level pin in indoor compound bow within the next three to five years. (The How-To Gun Girl photo)

The USA Archery AAP pins help me set goals for archery achievement. My big goal is to get to the highest level pin in indoor compound bow within the next three to five years. (The How-To Gun Girl photo)

Finally, set up to 10 process goals to help you in training. Each of these processes will help with achieving a milestone. And each milestone is linked to an unusual goal. And those unusual goals are linked to your bold goal. See how this works? Setting BUMP style goals will help you achieve the bold goals by breaking them into smaller, doable chunks.

In my case, here is a list of several process goals I will work on during my training sessions over the next few months. 

  • Develop and write down a shot plan, then train to it.
  • Focus on good anchor point when setting up my shot.
  • Establish a habit of releasing with back tension.
  • Reject bad shots.
  • Read Bullseye Mind and develop a mental training routine.
  • Shoot at least two days a week.
  • Maintain my bow and arrows for optimal performance.
  • Eat well, especially before training and matches.

These are specific and achievable. My process goals are also focused on things I have control over. I avoided writing goals that have to do with relative performance or match conditions - for example, a poor process goal would be to "win at least two matches." Instead I included several goals related to the process of executing good shots. I will use these goals to direct my focus during training, like focusing on releasing my shots using back tension. 

Now What?

Set Some Goals

Goal setting is not a quick process. Becoming a better shooter takes time, but it is so worth it! Think of this goal-setting exercise as an investment in your shooting career. If you set bold goals and follow those through each of the BUMP levels, you'll give yourself plenty to work on. Plus you'll be motivated to move outside your comfort zone to achieve your goals. 

Share Your Goals With People You Trust

Sharing goals helps others provide support and encouragement to keep you going. Letting other people in on what you want to accomplish can be surprisingly helpful. You never know who is willing to help until you let them know! Plus, sharing goals can keep you going. If you're the only one who knows what your plans are, then you can convince yourself that it isn't a big deal if you give up.

When you share your goals, you have an incentive to keep going so that you don't have to explain why you stopped trying. I still think the most important reason to share goals is to find help, but this extra incentive to save face can be helpful sometimes when the going gets tough.

If you have any questions about goal setting, my goals, or just want to chat, let's get in touch! You can find out how at my Contact page.

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Archery + Engineering Management = Connection!

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