The Goat

Everyone seems to have one. I don’t mean a belly button or… certain orifices… It’s a weakness – usually one that perpetually harrows you. Any time you see this thing pop up in a match, it tends to eat your lunch, hand you your ass, and laugh at you while it’s doing it. I’m talking about The Goat.

I don’t know exactly where the term “Goat” came from – I’ve tried looking for it… A Google search is a mess. Really, the origins of the term are neither here nor there, as long as we understand the term the same way. For our purposes, The Goat is that one skill that drives you nuts. The one you avoid practicing because it sucks to be so bad at it that you can’t stand working on it. The one that does the most damage to your match scores on a regular basis. The one you want to club the match director over the head with your shooting bag about when you see it show up in a match. The one that makes you want to throw your gun over the berm about each time it serves you up a fresh helping of humble pie. Yeah, that one.

The severity of a Goat is relative, OK? In some senses, it’s more of a mental thing – it’s sometimes what you feel is the weak point, not necessarily what someone else tells you is weakest. And what you think is worst about your game might be a skill level that someone else would love to have in their game. But, how you feel about it frequently gives it more power in it’s ability to negatively affect your game.

Remember my suggestion on how to determine what to practice? The Goat is that skill that keeps coming back on that list, taunting you like a third grader with their tongue stuck out.

How do you kill a Goat (and, preferably cook ‘em up and make some cabrito chili, or some other tasty dish)?? You gotta learn to love that animal. I mean really love it, like you love seeing it show up in a match, and look forward to taking it down.

You have to own the fact that you’re going to need to dedicate a good chunk of your practice time to that skill set, whatever it may be, and be diligent about working it it all kinds of ways. As you do the work, you’ll gain confidence in your abilities. Sure, you might still suck at it in practice, at first. That’s OK. There’s a reason why we practice things, right? Slow things down, get very deliberate about executing the skill, whatever it is, and focus on solid, smooth execution. Slowly build up speed on it and stop trying to push on speed as soon as anything with it stops working – back up a step, and keep it solid. If it’s a skill you can dry fire, use dry fire time to hone the rough edges off the skill, so that you can focus your live fire practice around simply executing.

Accept that progress on a Goat may be slower than the pace you might be used to on other skills. That’s OK, too – it’s to be expected. Remember that you’ve probably got a little bit of a mental block against the skill, and it takes doing some work to turn that attitude around. As you do the work, though, and the timer and targets start to demonstrate the results of your efforts, you’ll begin to gain confidence, and that’s when things start to get interesting. The Goat starts to look appetizing when you see it on the “menu” at a match. Now, instead of a fear inspiring, (wo)man-eating trap from hell, it’s a chance to test out the work you’ve done. Hey, it might not go perfect the first few times – that’s also OK. Take some notes on how you do, and bring that back to practice. Each time, you’ll notice things getting a little better in a match context, too, if you’ve been diligent in practice.

Progress is success. Believe it. Eventually, Mr. Goat will become a strength, and you’ll look forward to running across it in a match – at worst, you won’t even think about it when you see it.

My Goat? Extra shots on steel targets. You can bet that a huge chunk of my practice is dedicate to small paper plates (because they have no audible feedback). Things are getting better in matches with all that work. Not perfect. Better. And “better now” is even better later.

So, put your Goat to work for you, and turn it into the thing you love to work best. Your game will improve by leaps and bounds, guaranteed!

About the author


USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/07/the-goat/

4 pings

  1. DR Performance says:

    New blog post – what does cabrito have to do with shooting? Find out! http://t.co/IAvTyEo

  2. xre says:

    New blog post – what does cabrito have to do with shooting? Find out! http://t.co/IAvTyEo

  3. “The Goat” featured in September’s Double-Alpha Zone | Re-Gun says:

    [...] edition of Double-Alpha Academy’s Double-Alpha Zone e-zine for a reprint of my blog article “The Goat”. Cool [...]

  4. Match Report: 2011 USPSA Open/L10 Nationals | Re-Gun says:

    [...] much better on steel targets, taking only a handful of extra shots. If you recall, this has been a Goat of mine, and I was happy to see some improvement in this match. I took fewer extra shots in [...]

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