Catch the Pigeon

The Stag Do. A group of blokes, associated with the groom through friendship or family, get together to undertake activities they’d never otherwise do.   This is usually followed by copious amounts of alcohol leading to a hangover to remind the condemned man what he’ll be missing out on once the knot is tied?!

My two last experiences of “The Stag Do” shared Clay Pigeon Shooting as one of the activities. OK, lets get one thing out in the open early – I was rubbish both times. I’d guess I managed to hit around 40% of the clays (must have been a couple of faulty guns). What I want to focus on though is the difference in the coaching I received each time.

The first instructor told us he was a good shooter, and offered loads and loads of feedback. He was excellent at telling me I’d missed. If only there was a way I could have worked this out myself. Half way through the session he decided to mention the fact that I had the biggest gun (as the smallest bloke there this was far from ideal) and a smaller one would be better. He even helped me aim the gun a couple of times. Each time even I knew that there was no chance of hitting the clay given that the gun was pointing nowhere near it, but it must have been helpful otherwise why would he have done it? To top off the experience there was lots of banter with the other shooters at my expense. Perhaps this is the way of the shooter?

Despite this “coaching”, I did hit the target a few times.

My second experience started with a light-hearted briefing from a self-depreciating instructor, which made me warm to him. He didn’t talk about his ability as a shooter but focused on some techniques to help us with the task at hand. Once shooting, he offered far less feedback. In fact, it was fairly generic praise in the most part. He was interacting purely with me – no side conversations or quips with anyone else.   The set up for this shoot was potentially far more daunting than for my first as there were multiple instructors and multiple groups all on one range rather than a single group and a single instructor previously. However, it didn’t feel this way due to the manner of the coach and the environment he created.

So what have I learned?

  • I’m not great at clay pigeon shooting (yet!)
  • Someone feeding back to me what I am able to judge for myself is incredibly infuriating
  • A little generic praise can go a long way
  • Someone’s ability to perform a task (and their confidence in this ability) is not necessarily beneficial to someone they are coaching to perform this task
  • The environment and relationship created by the coach is hugely important in the student’s perception of the activity.
  • You can enjoy something without being good at it (yet)
  • You can hate something without being good at it (which means you will probably not do it again and will probably not get good at it!)

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