Good is relative

I don’t think I’m a particularly good shooter. I reckon I’m ok, nothing special. The reason for that is because the people I compare myself to and the objective standards I use to measure performance say so. If I was a USPSA GM, I’d probably say that I was a decent shooter, but not really in the same class as “real” GMs. If I won a national championship, I’d say “I’m pretty good, but not as good as the best in the game.” I’d imagine that Eric Grauffel knows he’s good, but he also knows he could be better. Because we’re nowhere near the pinnacle of human performance in the shooting sports.

Maggie Reese

If you follow real sports like baseball, hockey, or football you’ll know the amount of money and #science that goes into improving performance in those games. There is nowhere near that amount of money or science going into the shooting sports; it’s not even a close comparison.

What that means for us though is that we have an awesome sliding scale to compare our skill level to. If you want to make external comparisons, you can probably find some group of shooters that you’re objectively better at shooting than. For example, I’m better at shooting a handgun than most gunwriters. Some people will say that “external comparisons are bad” but I don’t necessarily believe that. An external comparison can be bad if it becomes arrogance (in the case of you being better than someone) or jealousy (in the case of someone being better than you). Don’t let your external comparisons turn into negativity. I can objectively look at a C-class shooter and say “I’m better than he is, because I can do x, y, z.” I can then objectively look at a GM and say “he’s better than me because he can do x, y, z better.” Those are fine, and healthy external comparisons.

Ultimately, your definition of “good” will come from your goal. Is your goal to be able to keep all your shots in the black? Then “good” for you is going to be different than “good” for someone who wants to be a national champion. It’s just the nature of the beast. The secret to happiness in your performance is having a clear understanding of what your definition of good is, and not allowing other people to influence that in a direction that doesn’t make you happy. Because ultimately, life is too short to not have fun with it. If shooting or training ever becomes a terrible drudge, maybe it’s time to find a new hobby.


  1. I disagree with the “real sport” context, but the first sentence of the last paragraph is way spot on.

      1. More or less; I get frustrated sometimes because I know the shooting sports have the potential to “grow up” a little bit and get off the outdoor channel and on to some better networks. But until we get some major sponsorships from outside the industry, we’ll always be the sort of sport that shows up on ESPN 8, The Ocho at 2am.

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