Why do you teach youth how to shoot – Follow-Through

The 5th article in the series

This is the last installment of my five fundamentals of shooting and how they relate to goal setting and project management, two things required to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This final topic will focus on followthrough.  

While some may not find this as an important fundamental – and it is frequently glossed over in training – let me assure you that it is a very important aspect of consistent accurate shooting. Let me start by explaining what it is. Follow-through is the continuation of all the actions taken up to the point of pulling the trigger and holding it beyond the time when the bullet hits the target. What this means is that you continue to focus on the sight alignment, the sight picture, the hold control of the firearm, your breath control and of course the trigger control.  

If you are continuing to hold that position you should be able to see where your shot landed, depending upon the distance, (we will talk about that later) by looking through your sights. This time allows you the chance to mentally re-examine everything that you did to make the shot to determine how effective it was. Was I in the proper relaxed position? Did I have the proper sight alignment? Was I focused on the forward sight over the target? Did I have the proper hold on the firearm? Was I breathing properly? Did I operate the trigger properly? These are just some of the questions you should ask to help yourself improve every shot and if done properly you should see improvement with every shot. 

I still see improvement with my shots when I follow this procedure, especially when I am sighting in a gun. I will notice that I may have had my foot in an awkward position, or my shoulders were tensed, or my finger was not on the trigger exactly how I wanted it. All of these internal questions you ask yourself make you think about how it is that what you are doing can affect the outcome of what you are trying to do. For a short-range shot, adjustments will cause small changes, but as the distance becomes greater very minor adjustments can cause a drastic miss on a target. This is where it becomes more important to take the time between every shot to asses every aspect of what went into that shot. This reflection, to use a Venturing term, can help determine why the shot was a success or why it was a miss. 

This process has many different names and can be applied to many different activities, but we are going to apply it to our goal setting and project management. For all of you who have either completed an Eagle project or helped someone complete one, the follow-through is the Eagle Scout Service Project Report that must be filled out after the physical work has been completed. This is where you take the time for reflection and ask those questions that can and will help with the next time you are required to complete a project. This is where all your life lessons come from.  

It is something that we have been doing all our life without realizing it. We do something that we are told not to and get sent to “time out”. We speed while driving and get a ticket which causes us to question whether we will do it again. We stay out after curfew and get grounded. This is just a process of taking the time to assess what went right with what did not and making a change in what it is that we are doing to have greater success in the future. Shooting sports just gives us that positive instant feedback to solidify what it is to reflect on our actions and that changes in those actions can make us better people.