One of the things I often hear with competitive shooters is how often they practice. They either work on the mechanics of shooting by dry firing or different exercises that prepares them for competition. I have not been great at practicing as I always find life getting in the way. I rarely have time to hit the range at times other than when I am shooting a match. The point I am making today is that practice is going to make you better. There is no doubt that if you continue to do the same tasks over and over, you will get faster and faster. That is good, but that isn’t what all competitive shooting is about. Most matches calculate time as a key factor in scoring and some even have points for each target depending on the way the match is setup. Being able to shoot the gun well is a great start, but can you shoot it fast and well? I have noticed my skill level improving a lot just this past year and it was wasn’t really due to the efforts of shooting more. I found myself squadding with better shooters in which I learned from. I have found that Stage Planning is probably the most critical part of shooting. Some may argue, but I think the plan is just as important as the execution. It’s a lot like trying to build a house without a print. You can have all the skill and equipment necessary, but if your plan sucks. You probably aren’t going to have a good final product. The same goes for planning a stage to shoot. Going into a stage blind leaves valuable time on the stage and also leaves you feeling anxious and unprepared. This failure to be prepared can sometimes cause you to walk by targets and not take shots that are required. These mental mistakes are more costly than shooting and missing. A well-executed plan will be faster, giving you more time to make good shots and have good hits. So remember, the plan is just as important as the execution.