Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Advice... (and Happy New Year!)

Last year I ran myself ragged in competition. I was searching for "better" and I got a healthy does of it, but not without it taking a toll on my life. I had to do it, though: I needed to turn over as many stones as I could before it was "tomorrow" and I wasn't going to be able to do it anymore - perhaps due to commitments, perhaps due to eyesight, perhaps due to Mr Murphy... I had a great year last year: I attended Rogers and Stoeger's classes, sunk the competition in PPC and Bullseye,  and raced pretty hard in USPSA and IDPA, winning some great matches/recognition in the process.

The wife was the first to point out some things: while she was my #1 fan, she remarked that there was a fine line splitting the definition of "allowing folks their space" and "estrangement". I heeded her counsel and started figuring out how to pare some things back a bit. Some have heard that I'm done shooting larger IDPA matches, taking a rest from Bullseye & PPC and pursuing USPSA almost exclusively - peppered with some 3-gun if time allows - and this is really the reason why.

In trying to figure out even more, I though I'd ask a few of the "pros" how they manage their work-life balance. Julie Golob and Ben Stoeger both replied with excellent advice. A few others shared quite a bit with me, but asked me not to repost. I took their advice to heart, but respected their wishes.

I present my original question, then their responses:

Was hoping to ask you for advice...

I'm a competitive shooter which, like most folks, means that I'm actually self-funded and self-motivated. It also means that I work a full-time job largely unrelated to the firearms industry; in my case, I'm an IT Consultant (though I run a calendar site promoting events in the area: WIILSHOOT.COM).

I've had some success: I've won a few major IDPA tournaments, got my "M"-card in USPSA Production Division and have been a big time PPC/Bullseye competitor. However, I'm finding that the pace of trying to compete in all the different venues is beginning to take its toll on my relationship with my wife. Since she is the most important to me, I've decided to scale back my involvement by being more discerning about the events that I compete in - I hope this helps my situation.

This issue did lead me to question what tips, if any, you'd care to share with me on how you approach your work-life balance? Additionally, would you mind if I reposted your insights on the WIILSHOOT.COM site?


Les Kismartoni

Julie Golob:

Hi Les,

Thanks for the email and congrats on all your success as a shooter!  Of course you can share the following and I hope it helps you personally. I admire that you value your relationship so much. Here you go...

It sounds like you have the same problem I have, too many shooting sports and events, too little time! It's tough to do it all. Back when I was single and didn't have a family, I traveled all the time and competed in everything I could. It just isn't possible now.

How do I deal with that challenge? Well,  during the off season, I sit down and look at the major events I want to compete in. I prioritize them based on personal goals.  After that, I consider what's going on with my family and work obligations. Then I make my schedule based on all those factors. For example, last year was an IPSC World Shoot year and I chose events and divisions that would help me prepare for that competition. Other years I have made matches like Steel Challenge a priority, dedicating significant training time to it and shooting matches that would help me warm up so that I would peak at the right time.  Sure, there are events that pop up and I can make some changes, but I find that by setting my schedule based on my goals and what I know I can do with all my obligations, it helps me so much. If I find I really miss going to a match, then I make a note of it so that it becomes a high priority event for the next year.

Be safe & have fun,

Ben Stoeger:

Do with what you will:

I think you have hit on a pretty important topic and it is one that most people don’t adequately prepare for.

I think most shooters have lots of energy and get really involved in shooting, but after a little while during the year they discover they sort of bit off more than they can chew.

I think I can give you a few tips on how I try to avoid burning out on shooting, neglecting my other commitments, and so forth.

1. Have a schedule at the beginning of the year. Lay out the matches you really want to make and get them on the calendar. You may see a there are a couple months in a row that there aren’t any big matches going on or see that you have a match 4 weekends back to back. That is a good time to make an adjustment. You may see that you have too much going on in a certain month and then decide if you are going to drop a match to make things a little less hectic.

2. Don’t hesitate to not attend event that aren’t important to your shooting goals. If you are trying to become a high level USPSA shooter, don’t break your back to get to an IDPA club match. You can’t shoot every single match out there so don’t even bother.

3. Be sure to account for the time you will spend on shooting that isn’t a match. I am talking about dry fire, live fire practice,  loading ammo…. All of it! You need to have a plan for this time as well. Your commitment in terms of time and money will almost always be more than you think it is.

4. Make sure your family understands what your schedule/budget is and solve any issues ahead of time. I sat down at the beginning of this year and determined that for me to be heavily involved in the sport and my wife to be casually involved it would cost about 12000 dollars. Knowing that up front avoids conflicts later on.

5. Schedule some time off. Few people that have been shooting for many years and will shoot for many more train and compete year round. Force yourself to take some time away in the winter and don’t hesitate to schedule “off” weeks during the year. If you shoot a big match and then don’t have any other big matches for a couple months, take a week or two away from shooting and you will come back refreshed and ready for action.

With all this in mind, perhaps the new year is a good time to figure out a game plan?

Happy New Year!