Coaching Association of Canada

Bob Kierstead, ChPC - Shooting

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

In target shooting sports (including biathlon, archery, golf, etc.), everyone wants to hit the bull’s-eye every time. If the bull’s-eye isn’t hit every time, then the shooter becomes disappointed and frustrated as anything less than this is a miss.

As target shooters are developing their technical performance skills, hitting the bull’s-eye consistently is rare, in fact, at the developmental phase, hitting the bull’s-eye even occasionally is cause for excitement!

The challenge then is creating a motivational climate that keeps training exciting, while athletes experience the frustration of not consistently hitting the bull’s-eye – in other words having lots of misses.

An important aspect of creating a motivational climate for training is achieving successful performances. We know that ‘nothing succeeds like success’; success feeds on itself and gives the athlete an important boost.

If success in target sports is defined as hitting the bull’s-eye every time, and the bull’s-eye is not being hit, then success is not being fed, and the motivation to train drifts away.

So then, let’s redefine the bull’s-eye to a larger size compatible with the athlete’s current technical skill level, rather than just that really small dot in the middle of the target. This can be achieved a number of ways, for example by eliminating the scoring rings on the target. The developing target shooter will then experience hitting the enlarged bull’s-eye in training and have a successful experience which will boost their motivation to enjoy and continue training. The redefined size of the bull’s-eye during training development can be whatever size the coach determines to be effective.

As technical skills improve, the size of the enlarged bull’s-eye is reduced gradually until the normal bull’s-eye size is attained.

Redefining and enlarging the size of the bull’s-eye in this fashion reduces the frustration of ‘missing’ experienced by developing athletes, regardless of age, and replaces frustration with the enjoyment of hitting the bull’s-eye!

I have observed this technique produce good technical results with developing athletes while creating a positive and enjoyable learning experience. Coaches can adapt this technique to various target sports with a bit of creativity.

Yours in sports excellence,

Bob Kierstead, ChPC, BA, MEd
2014 Geoff Gowan Award Winner