episode 13 | Feb 26, 2020
Personal Growth
Law Enforcement/Military

Ep. 13: If You Aren't Happy With How You Performed Yesterday, Do Better!

In this episode, Staff Sgt. Mark Horsley talks about world class coaching technique, reaction time and mental strength. Learn special coaching techniques that successful police departments use to get their officers hitting the their mark, under stress, every time. This episode is brought to you by GLOCK.
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Travis Bader: I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products we offer.

[00:00:30] As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to make sure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.

[00:00:43] I’m proud to say that this week’s episode is brought to you by Glock. For good reason, Silvercore uses Glock handguns for its training programs for both civilian and armed professionals alike. Glock is a giant in the world of handguns and is nearly ubiquitous as a law enforcement firearm based on its proven reliability and accuracy. With the brand new 22 calibre Glock model 44, Glock has just established itself as one of the most accessible platforms to train on.

[00:01:10] Check out Glock.com for more details. What’s more, Glock has provided a slew of stickers, pins, key chains, deckles, collectible banners, and more. So if you want to fly the flag or get some swigs simply like, comment and tag a friend on Instagram or Facebook. There’s no limit to the number of times you can enter and it’s free. For more options on how to enter and for full details, go to the Silvercore.ca blog.

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[00:01:59] Travis here with The Silvercore Podcast and I get to sit down again with a national PPC champion, we’ve spoken in the past. Welcome back, Mark Horsley.

Mark Horsley: Thanks, Travis.

Travis Bader: We talked about a few things in the past, we mentioned your time with the police agency, your time training with the FBI, your time in Australia competing for some international titles there in PPC and doing quite well, and a few of the things that we were talking about revolved around coaching technique, which I find really fascinating.

[00:02:27] The mental strength required to be able to perform well at any given task, whether that’s shooting or basketball or, or what have you, and reaction time. Would you be able to expand on those three points, reaction time, coaching technique, and the mental strength?

Mark Horsley: Sure. I think there’s a lot to delve into in those areas. When we’re dealing with coaching technique, you know, I’m always kind of analyzing and critiquing people that coach and I, of course, I seek coaching in preparation for the world championships.

[00:03:02] I went and spent a week training in Washington state with Gary Crane down there, a national US champion and record holder, very experienced guy. And you know, he’s very helpful, but a lot of Gary’s coaching techniques come from a different era where a lot of negative modifiers are used versus positive modifiers and-

Travis Bader: So what do you mean by that?

Mark Horsley: Well, an example will be go and watch any kid’s soccer game and the very well meaning parents will shout up at a kid, don’t shoot at the goalie. And that’s a negative modifier because it had actually never entered into the kid’s head to shoot at the goalie until they heard that from the parent, and now they’ll shoot at the goalie.

[00:03:47] And I mean, it’s a simple example, but that’s a negative modifier. So one of the things that Gary emphasizes is focusing on where your shot went wrong and where it went. And to me, as a coach, what I want to do is, is give a description of where a shot’s gone, cause immediate feedback is critical. If you take a basketball player and they were to shoot 24 shots.

[00:04:13] At each shot, they know whether it’s going into the basket or not. If you’re at a range and you shoot 24 shots at paper at 50 meters, you don’t really know where they went. Can you imagine the kid on the basketball court? If they fired 24 times and 10 minutes later or an hour later, you told them where they went in, it would just be lost on them, right?

Travis Bader: Sure it would, yeah.

Mark Horsley: So immediate feedback is critical to improving at any sport, and especially shooting. So the coaching is, if you give a description of what happened that’s neutral, it’s not a positive, it’s not a modifier, it’s neither positive or negative. But if you’re asking the shooter to disrupt their focus on their next shot, by telling you where their last shot, when a stray that’s introducing a negative.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: So what I want is I fire the shot, then I want to know exactly where it went. It should be a two or maybe a three word description. So we have rings that go out from 10 and and as they go out from there, they go down to seven points. So a description would be nine left, and the most you would ever say would be nine high left.

Travis Bader: Okay.

Mark Horsley: So most would be three words. Then the shooter should be 100% focused on the next shot, which is going to, in their mind, be an X. You’re visualizing dead centre on the target.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: So that’s the concept. Rolys coach, I went to in July, trained a week with Roly. This was all in preparation for the world championships, and his coach is awesome, but kin, is kind of that old school. He’ll, he’ll kind of, he’ll be watching you and he’ll go, Ugh. What do you mean ugh? Like, give me a description on, on whats, you know?

[00:05:54] So there’s a guy by the name of Bill Rogers. He’s a genius holster manufacturer makes a lot of the Safariland holster designs. He also trains elite shooters, so he’ll train special forces, high level instructors, SWAT ERT teams. I went and took his training as part of my employment with a Safariland when I was working for them.

[00:06:18] And he’s definitely that old school coach. So I’m not, and that kind of negative modifier coach can be very effective to people who are very strong minded, but they can crush people who aren’t right.

[00:06:33] So here we got a bunch of type A, you know, high achieving people on this course. Pretty much had to take their guns away by noon hour lunch break on the first day.

Travis Bader: Really?

Mark Horsley: Because everything that he did was based on speed. Speed and shooting is based on efficiency. And all his reaction times were taken from major league baseball. Now, if I was a major league baseball player, or I was skilled or athletically talented to that level, I probably never would have been a policeman.

Travis Bader: Sure, sure.

Mark Horsley: So, so it was hard to achieve and, and, and he would, he would go, he would walk up to me and go, you’re not getting this. Well, thanks Bill. And I’m kind of looking at him as, as evaluating him as a coach.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Mark Horsley: Right? And I’m thinking, okay, that’s not how I would coach, but I’m a strong person, mind wise. And it wasn’t really, you know, I was just kept trying, kept trying, kept trying. So, you know, they’d allow you a quarter of a second to get your gun out and you know, another fraction of a second to acquire your target and shoot and everything.

[00:07:40] It was all about being efficient, no wasted motion, you know, no delays in your thought processes and, and it, it was really valuable training to get that on target. You know, like the big skill for policing is, on target at a distance, like seven meters from the holster, as fast as you can. If you can do it in under a second, you know, you’re really good. You know, generally a policing standard is two seconds.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: So anyway, Bill kept saying you know, you’re not getting this and you’re not getting, I went to lunch and I’m looking at the long faces around me and I’m thinking. Okay, it’s not going to help me get this if I beat up on myself cause Bill’s doing a pretty good job beating me up already.

[00:08:24] Get there later in the course and I’m getting it. Other guys aren’t, I’m getting it and Bill comes along and what does he say to me. I never thought you’d get it. Well, I did Bill, and you know, anyway, he was, he was kind of like the Bobby Knight sort of coach, but you know, he knows his stuff and it’s all scientifically based.

[00:08:46] But you know, when you’re looking at coaching performance, you think about a coach coaching another athlete. But as an athlete you’re actually coaching yourself. And the rule of thumb when you’re coaching yourself is about 90% positive modifiers to about 10% negative.

Travis Bader: Okay.

Mark Horsley: And that doesn’t include your neutrals. So your neutral is just a description of what happened, comes without judgment, right? It’s, this is what happened. So in your mind, a negative modifier, you know, when your self coaching can be very, very effective. I set a national record and pistol in 1997 in Alberta and I dropped a point early in the match and the negative modifier for me was kind of slap yourself, you know, pull your head out of your wazoo, get in the game.

[00:09:39] And so that was that small amount of negative and then the rest of immediately your heads full with how to. We were talking about, on the break these competitions, the, in a team event, the second target has 30 shots, 24 are fired in four different positions at 50 meters. Then the target comes in. You can’t help but see how your 50 has done, and the final six are shot at 25 meters.

[00:10:07] So if a guy does a beautiful job at 50 and shoots a fantastic target. If he starts and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll personalize this, if I start jumping to the end  without step-by-step, how I’m going to shoot that final stage, I’m going to blow it. So it has to be, your head is full of only the how to, not the how not to.

[00:10:30] And the bottom line is, let’s say you have a weak performance at 50. You can’t take the shots back. Once it’s out of the gun, it’s gone, you can only focus on the next shot and so, you know, I don’t care. We were using a, an analogy from professional baseball where you’re not thinking about the world series when you’re thinking about, you know, stance grip on the bat in a batting the process.

[00:10:55] And, and in any kind of athletic endeavour, you’ve gotta be thinking of the process, the motivation to achieve your highest level can only come under the pressure of competition. Somebody has to push you at the Ontario championships in July, I trained for a week with Roly and then we shot the a double tournament, including the Ontario champs. He’s better than me, plain and simple.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Mark Horsley: But we were tied going into the last six shots in one in one event, he beat me by a point and you know, his first thing he did is shake my hand and say, thanks for pushing me. Cause you need that person to push. And then just so you don’t think that there’s a mutual admiration society.

[00:11:42] When I entered the Canadian championships, I said to the organizers, you have to put me right next to that lucky Roly Miles who fluked a win at Ontario over me. And you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s like you got to soar with the eagles. That’s why the in competition, they tend to put the highest rank people beside one another.

[00:12:03] It’s not for a distraction, it’s because you’ve got this intensity that radiates and off of the other competitor that pushes you to a higher level. I think that’s why there’s such great camaraderie in police pistol competition or precision pistol competition internationally is because you need people who are on that level to bring you to that level.

Travis Bader: And that’s, I think, human nature. I remember reading an article and it was Bezos, the Amazon founder, and one of the high execs from Apple, and they’re talking about building systems of achievement within their staff, their employees, and one of the things that came up time and again was you bring somebody into an environment of underachievers and that if this person is naturally an achiever they will quickly fall to that norm.

[00:12:53] Likewise, if you bring somebody who’s typically an underachiever into an environment of achievers. Group pressure, whatever it is, he will quickly start achieving and sort of picking his socks up and fall into that norm.

Mark Horsley: There’s a contagion in the pursuit of excellence. If you’re with somebody who is pursuing excellence in any field, you naturally, as you say, want to pick your socks up. I mean Roly, Roly Miles is a, is a world champion from a small town in Northern Ontario. He’s motivated a lot of Canadian shooters in different disciplines to, to pick up and I mean, Roly’s a world champion and police pistol combat, but the guy’s also an amazing rifle shooter.

[00:13:36] He can compete in other disciplines. It’s that, the problem, we love to shoot all these different disciplines, but to get to the highest level in one you got to put your focus on that at least for a period of time. But it raises the bar is the best way to put it in the, the interesting thing about shooting is you don’t want to win against poor competition.

Travis Bader: No.

Mark Horsley: You want to, you want to, like, my motivation is I’m trying to beat my scores from the nineties I want to beat my scores from 25 years ago, and it’s a kind of retirement, pre-retirement, post retirement from a policing career goal to do that and it’s, it’s a good focus.

[00:14:17] You know, this year has been good, I won Washington State championships, I won a Canadian title, I won a world title. But the biggest thing that motivates me is trying to beat those scores from the 90s. As that’s, that’s my goal. It’s not about beating a people, it’s about overcoming my, my own limitations, you know?

Travis Bader: So you’ve talked about positive and a negative modifiers. What about well-meaning coaches who give false positive modifiers? Hey, you’re doing a great job. Someone’s really pooping the bed and they were trying to bring them up. What are your thoughts on that?

Mark Horsley: It just is incredible. And if you destroy your credibility there what does a compliment mean?

Travis Bader: Exactly.

Mark Horsley: You know, it’s, it’s a tough one. I mean, one of the things is, is that in coaching, and this is self coaching, the things you say in your own mind or things that you say to somebody that you’re, you know, coaching or teaching is you don’t always have to say something. And when somebody is, you know, poorly performing, you don’t have to say anything, they know. Right?

[00:15:25] And, and then, you know, you’ve got this situation where someone’s reaching, you know, really deep to come up with something that’s positive. You know, I mean sometimes the performance is so poor there’s not a lot have to be said other than we’re practicing Monday. And, and you know, that’s enough, right?

[00:15:45] But no, you, you certainly, part of coaching people is looking for the small victories. Like when you analyze an entire performance, you know there might’ve been something that was good. When you shoot a major tournament for in shooting, for example, if you shoot every single event, something has to go right at some point.

[00:16:05] And a lot of things can go wrong but, and you certainly, you’re going to look for that. And the beautiful thing about the shooting sports is, there’s always a new target, right? If you’ve got a disappointing target, you take that off, you put up a new one, you got a fresh start right?

[00:16:19] And, and when you look at that, it’s actually, that’s the way life is.  You know, every day you got a new day. So if you weren’t happy with how you performed yesterday, do better. But you know, there one of the biggest things is as a coach myself, and I do this self coaching as well, is I never raised my voice and shout at the, the player. Coaches own practice, players own the game.

[00:16:45] I don’t say a lot. I’ll go up and save the most meaningful, concise few words that I can. My daughter Emma, you know, as a soccer player, she said, I never hear instructions from the coach. No, they’re in the game. And she said, I never make decisions, I just do things, right? And when your brain’s at the point where the whole decision process is automatic, then you’re playing properly right?

Travis Bader: I love that.

Mark Horsley: Yeah.

Travis Bader: Yeah, that’s the subconscious is basically, is taken over.

Mark Horsley: Yeah, you’re not, you’re not consciously thinking, I need to run in that direction. You’re already running in that direction and you don’t consciously think I’m going to shoot, you know, it’s just happening. Yeah, the, the biggest thing I think with coaching is to, to keep that positive, negative in mind.

[00:17:34] And that includes the self coaching you do in your, in your mind. And if you can’t self coach yourself to a high level of performance, why on earth would you think you could coach another person to a high level of performance?

Travis Bader: That’s a good point.

Mark Horsley: And there’s things where, you know, maybe somebody was an excellent gymnasts, a gymnast in their youth, and now they’re older so they’re not doing all that stuff anymore.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Mark Horsley: That’s fine, but they have done it, they have experienced it. But when you’re, when you’re looking at a performance thing that’s more generous to our age, like a shooting sport, you’ve got to have a certain level to bring yourself to that level before you have the credibility to coach others.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: Yeah.

Travis Bader: You’ve done a lot of coaching, both in shooting and outside of the shooting. From a departmental point of view, you’ve had to coach thousands of people coming through the department and you’re going to find different personality types. You’re going to find people who absolutely love being there.

[00:18:26] They, they’re switched on, type A, want to get into it. And you’re gonna find people who are fearful and perhaps this is the last place they want to be. Are there any ways that you can help those people overcome their own mental blocks that they’re creating for themselves? Cause it’s, it’s easier for somebody who knows.

[00:18:47] You’ve got their head switched on them that you know you can achieve it. You’ve done it in the past. Somebody else who hasn’t done this is going to be full of self doubt.

Mark Horsley: One of the hard things is, as a coach, you want to ask from your player the most that they can do without asking them to do something they can’t do. So if you’ve asked them to do something they can’t do, then you failed as a coach. And, but it’s a fine line.

[00:19:14] So I, I mean, I think policing has changed a lot. You know, there’s a lot of pressure to hire demographically. There’s a lot of people that, you know, would not normally be suited to it, but they’re, they’re sought for policing. It’s a bit of a challenge.

[00:19:29] You get people who are not warriors and I mean, I’m not talking about somebody who picks a fight, but somebody, when there is a fight there, they’re there. And I mean, the bottom line is you’re in a use of force profession, and you have to be prepared for that. So, I mean one of the things that I did to set the tone of training is I would do an orientation with all our recruits once they’d finished the first block of the academy and they came for their practicum.

[00:19:54] And I would just say to them, if you’re not prepared to cause an injury, a catastrophic injury to another human being. And it doesn’t, it could be any kind of you know, force that you use to save somebody’s life or your own life you need to come with me right now to HR and resign cause you’re not suited to this job. And it put them in the frame of mind.

[00:20:17] One of the things, a challenge in policing and police training is the people who gravitate to the least dangerous jobs are the ones that want to pressure the lowest standards of qualification and they want to drag others down. And you know, I mean sometimes you have varying level of success when you talk to them and about, you know, how to raise this up.

[00:20:39] The other thing that’s really important is, to recognize is policing involves the pursuit of excellence in a wide range of areas. It’s not just shooting.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: There’s empty hand control, there’s interviewing skills, there’s investigative skills, there’s computer skills. I look at a police officer as being like a decathlete in track and field.

[00:20:59] And you know, it’s not just about one thing, but if you’re a someone who’s inclined to pursue excellence in your use of force, your shooting, you should probably also be the person that pursues excellence in investigation, in, you know, whatever informant handling or accident reconstruction or whatever, you know, particular area you’re in.

[00:21:21] If you can’t bring them in to the importance of what you’re doing as a use of force instructor, at the very least, you can appeal to their decency to not take away from those who are more likely to be in harm’s way. Like you watch people who are not comfortable in their policing career. And I think you’re either made for it or you’re not made for it.

[00:21:43] You either love it or you don’t. And I, the analogy I do is imagine if tomorrow, instead of policing the downtown east side, I had to go to VGH and do brain surgery. I would be so nervous the night before, cause I don’t know how to do it. I’m not, I don’t belong in an operating theatre.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: And that’s kind of where you’re at. And the best thing for a person to recognize is that they’re not where they’re suited. If you’re in a job you’re not suited for, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you’re not suited for that job. So, and having said that, there’s a lot of people that we hire that may not be suited, but they adapt well and they adapt well because it’s important for them to do it you know?

Travis Bader: One thing that I took away on a course I did with you. You had a line of instructor candidates and you did a drill, which was to essentially in a nutshell, instil empathy in the instructors for what a student could be going through. When an instructor or a coach gets to a certain level, all of a sudden things that may have been difficult for them at the beginning or maybe they never had difficulty with it is, is forgotten.

[00:22:50] And, and having that level of empathy. And I think the drill, you had us do, everyone throw a pistol in your support hand, pop a hole into the target. Okay, now pop another hole inside that hole, and again and again. And a lot of people were struggling with that.

[00:23:06] But what it does is, it puts them in a position where they’re doing something that’s a fair bit more difficult than what they’ve normally done in the past, and it helps remind them of what it was like for the new student coming through. I thought that was an important drill, and I haven’t seen that done in other places.

Mark Horsley: Yeah, empathy is essential. So one of the things that I encourage police instructors to do is to compete because the pressure that I felt shooting as a member of the Canadian team on a world championship is probably not as hard as the newer police officer coming to qualify when they don’t have really good skills.

[00:23:46] They haven’t got them yet. And the other thing I really, you know, it’s kind of the bo, you’re working both ends. That two year police officer who’s weakened their firearm skills, I’m encouraging them to overcome that so the next 30 years they can look forward to this training. And then the flip side of it is, anybody who’s teaching them has to understand that they probably didn’t sleep last night.

[00:24:07] You know, their bowels are out of order, they’ve had 15 pees already today. And for me, the instructor that isn’t willing to test themselves, the other thing an instructor has to do is if a student’s pistol is not grouping well, the students not grouping well, and, and the sight alignments in question or the ammo selection or, or any kind of mechanical thing. Is that you have to step up in front of that student and shoot that gun and show them that the, it’s not the gun, it’s not the ammo and, or if it is, then fix it.

[00:24:39] But, you know, there’s a bit of pressure involved in that. If you’re teaching a course or you’re teaching. A lot of the courses that I’ve taught, you know, our format is to demo every drill that we do. Now you’re downloading it to a bunch of high level instructors. There’s going to be a lot of good shooters there.

Travis Bader: Sure.

Mark Horsley: And there’s a bit of pressure to that. I mean, the bottom line is, and our sport is tied to my profession. You gotta be able to shoot under pressure. We create that pressure in competition, but there’s all other areas that there’s pressure, you know. I remember a training with for many years you know, I was in our crowd control unit, and I was the overwatch with a rifle over the whole unit.

[00:25:22] Most of them are unarmed and we did a drill up at the military base where through the, the line of crowd control police, I had to fire a round into a target. A little bit of pressure there because all these guys are believing in all these people who are believing in me and I want them to believe in me.

Travis Bader: Oh, of course you do.

Mark Horsley: I want to, I want to believe in me.

Travis Bader: Yeah.

Mark Horsley: So yeah. But no, it’s absolutely critical to have that empathy and not get too big for your own britches. I had a, my wife suffered through about a 12 year track and field career with me where I, I learned humility and I learned that if you are the best in your city or your town or your province, somewhere there was some one legged kid from some country that would kick your butt.

Travis Bader: Sure yeah, exactly.

Mark Horsley: And, and you know, so if you think you’re good, step onto a bigger stage and cause you will get humbled and, and humility is good.

Travis Bader: What does that do for the mental self image though?

Mark Horsley: Well, if, if you, you think you’re all that and a bag of chips cause you’ve never tested yourself, you’re delusion right?

Travis Bader:Absolutely.

Mark Horsley: As opposed to go and test yourself and see what you’ve got. There is, you know, step out into a bigger stage, make it harder. And cause you’re never going to achieve your, your maximum until you, you do things that are really hard and under pressure.

[00:26:45] And I mean, one of the, the important things about a championship is like a world championship is you get all the best shooters in the team event shooting at the exact same time, same conditions. One’s not shooting Tuesday and one shooting Thursday in different, in different conditions.

[00:27:02] It’s all the same conditions and you, and you’re testing yourself under pressure. If you were going to take the top scores shot in a 12 month period and award medals based on that, they would have been different people.

Travis Bader: Absolutely.

Mark Horsley: But it’s at one time.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: You know, one point in time you get everybody together to see who, who’s the best. And it’s only the best at that point in time.

Travis Bader: Sure. Looking at new shooters coming into the sport, looking to get into PPC to people who’ve been in the sport for a while who are now looking to become coaches or instructors. There’s typically the expectation that the instructor has, is fairly competent. There’s typically the expectation that the instructor can relay that information over in a way that the student will be able to pick up. That’s not always the case though.

Mark Horsley: No.

Travis Bader: I’ve, I remember there was one agency that I was doing some gunsmithing work for them, and I remember I got a phone call and had to rush on out over to the local, and I had rushed out to the justice Institute to check on a firearm that apparently wasn’t working as it should be.

[00:28:07] And I, and I get out there and the instructor says, yeah, no, it’s having this problem and that problem. I’m like, really? Have you checked it? Well no, the student told the instructor that there is a problem. And have you tried shooting it? Well, no we haven’t tried doing that yet. So I had, what they did, they had the entire class there and I said, well, we should check this.

[00:28:26] And I think, I think in their opinion, maybe I had done something wrong on the firearm in the past. And so they ran the target out to the very end and I said, well, let’s give it a shot. And I shoot this thing in a group very nicely, and they did exactly what it was supposed to do. And then I had to do a little bit of a song and dance to help the instructor save a bit of face in front of the class for why they didn’t check the thing to begin with.

[00:28:47] Essentially, it was all shooter induced, but it struck me that the instructor there could have taken some very simple steps and maybe they didn’t out of a fear of performing in front of the class. Whether that’d be their own personal level of ability or just performing in front of others. What, what would you expect to see in an instructor level candidate?

Mark Horsley: Well, in a, as instructors, we’re always striving to improve. So there were some obvious mistakes made there, no question about that. But I mean, one of the things that I like is what the FBI did, is to test your shooting skill, and then once that’s established, then focus on your coaching and your teaching skills, right?

[00:29:33] Beware of the new instructor who’s a guru next week, you know. You know, for the most part, if you’re really that good, it’s evident, you don’t have to tell everybody. And, it’s a balance. But you know, if, if you can think of it from a mental strength perspective, if, if you can make the student 100% confident in their gun and their ammo, then they’re only focused on themselves.

[00:30:01] Right? And that that’s where you want to take them, that’s what you want to do with them. And I mean, one of the reasons I shot our Beretta pistol in competition for years was I wanted to give confidence to our members that, that gun could shoot well.

Travis Bader: Oh interesting.

Mark Horsley: And I didn’t pick the gun, it was picked, I had to write the program to transition our members from a revolver to that gun. But I wanted to instil confidence by showing them that it could be shot well, and it was a good gun.

Travis Bader: That’s a good point.

Mark Horsley: Yeah and, and because now you’re removing doubts. I mean you’ve been on the range. I’ve been on the range where you say you shoot your rifle and it’s not grouping up, is it me? Is it the ammo? Is it the rifle? Is it a combination? But if you take all of that away and it’s just, you makes it very clean and simple, right?

Travis Bader: That’s really good point.

Mark Horsley: That’s what, that’s what we want to do. But as far as any sport it requires, like the thing that motivates people is improvement. So if you’re a golfer who never improves, you’re probably really a beer drinker because you know, you’re not there for the golf right?

[00:31:08] And, and, and I’m not picking on golfers, but what we’re doing with our sport is we’re providing competition opportunities along with coaching opportunities. So in the coming year up at Port Coquitlam and District Hunting and  Fishing Club there will be three opportunities for people to shoot this sport and two of them involve coaching opportunities.

[00:31:31] So the, you know, the best thing is, you know, have the proper equipment, which doesn’t mean spending a lot of money initially, but it’s to give people fundamentals and help them improve and enjoy the sport. Because, you know, and this is one of the things for our aging shooters, is I’m, I’m chasing these scores from 25 years ago.

Travis Bader: Right.

Mark Horsley: But I also keep track of my scores for this year. And Gary Crane, the fellow that I mentioned from Washington State, US champion, a record holder, he’s 74 years old. He shooting 1450 ish out of 1500 right now. His top scores would have been in the 1490s you’ve gotta be happy with that. So you chase your scores from this year right?

[00:32:13] And, but you need these things to motivate yourself like, to me, I don’t care what I was doing. It wouldn’t be fun to do it poorly year after year.

Travis Bader: Yeah definitely.

Mark Horsley: You know, if you’re, if you’re an entry level novice level, you know, we call them a marksman level in our skill level classifications, for 30 years. How satisfying is that? You want to climb up, right? You want to, you want to improve.

Travis Bader: So we’ve talked about the mental side. You’ve also talked about physical conditioning, you went to the gym. You’re getting yourself in shape, diet as well I’m sure it plays a, a role into that.

Mark Horsley: Sure. I mean, general health, I mean, we joke about it, we say we’re athletes, right? And it’s, it’s kinda, it’s almost like bait. You know how baseball players say they’re athletes. And then they kind of laugh about it standing, standing next to the boxer who’s ripped and shredded, and, you know, it looks a lot better, but we are athletes. And so yeah, diet, exercise.

[00:33:07] Part of like, our season is drawn to an end, the national championships were last weekend. I’ve got two more matches to shoot and then there’s a bit of a break while we prepare for next season. So Roly and I, moving forward, you know, hoping to represent Canada and team events. We talked about our entire preparation for next year.

[00:33:26] So in Australia, we didn’t face really high temperatures at previous world championships they’ve had temperatures day after day in the forties. You’ve gotta be physically conditioned for that. So we’ve got, we’ve got goals going into you know, next year, you know, I’ll be a year older.

[00:33:44] My goal is to be 20 pounds lighter and stronger. Going into next year and yeah. You gotta look at the whole, the whole package. There’s a lot of stretching, flexibility because of the different positions we shoot. I think strength is huge. As we age the tendency is to get a heavier and weaker.

[00:34:04] So to offset the aging process you have to do resistance training. My wife works out, we both do resistance training. You got to do enough cardio so that you have the stamina and you know, not incidentally, this just matches with good lifestyle.

Travis Bader: Sure it does.

Mark Horsley: Yeah. And, and generally speaking, I saw a lot of nonalcoholic beer consumed during the competition and a lot of beer consumed after the competition. But you know, I mean, we’re human beings ,you’re going to let your hair down once in awhile.

Travis Bader: Of course.

Mark Horsley: Yeah, I mean, you, you, you don’t go to all this effort. And the bottom line is, with my goals, I have to pay attention to all these details. Vision is the biggest issue that aging shooter on iron sight sports face, where you’re dealing with iron sights rather than an optical sight.

[00:34:55] And I got all kinds of input from top shooters who are still competing in their sixties and seventies as to how to achieve that. Worked very closely with optometrists to come up with that. I’ve got a trifocal set of glasses that honestly felt like something from the 60s, is a disco ball when I first put them on, but I’m quite used to them now.

[00:35:18] I’ve got a high lens that I use in the sitting and prone positions. I got a lower lens that I use in other positions. And you know, that that’s part of adapting to your changes. You know, in the 90s I had a wonderful vision, I could focus on my sight, I could see the target. I used to fire from 50 meters, a couple of shots, check to see if the light had moved them or not, and then make adjustments from there.

Travis Bader: Yeah.

Mark Horsley: Right. And they tell me I’m not supposed to do that, but it gave, it gave me some good scores.

Travis Bader: I love it.

Mark Horsley: Yeah. But you know, they’re all things you have to adapt to.

Travis Bader: So you talk about alcohol. Caffeine, some people will cut caffeine right out. Due to the possibility of getting shakes are at the effect on the eyes. And some people say you don’t change your routine, if you have caffeine every day, keep it up.

Mark Horsley: I think you do two things, what works and what you believe in. And they’re not always the same thing. Right? Cause there’s that mental part of it. I do nothing different on a competition day, I have two cups of coffee in the morning. And I don’t generally drink coffee through the rest of the day.

[00:36:28] I know a lot of competitors that don’t have any coffee, being a, you know, a longterm coffee drinker I’d probably start getting a headache or whatever. But I mean, if you think it’s gonna impact you, it will, you know, like so.

Travis Bader: Yeah that’s the whole mental side.

Mark Horsley: So you’ve got the whole mental side of it. But I mean, the bottom line is, is, first match at the nationals, my score wasn’t what I’d hoped for and Roly said, did you have the shakes or what? I said, no, I just shot like a putz. You know, it was that simple, I got to do better. You know?

[00:37:01] And the beautiful thing about our sport is you go to a tournament and there typically be 11 or so, or sorry, seven events or maybe more. So like I said, something has to go right somewhere along the.

Travis Bader: Right, concentrate on that.

Mark Horsley: Yeah. Yeah.

Travis Bader: Well, thank you very much, Mark. Really love having on here. Thanks for taking the time.

Mark Horsley: My pleasure. Thanks, Travis.

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