The 80/20 Rule of Practice


The 80/20 rule is something that I’ve heard a lot about when it comes to business. 20% of your customers provide 80% of your businesses. 20% of your products can account for 80% of your revenue etc. etc.

I recently was struck with a thought. I think that the same 80/20 rule can apply to shooting skills and your overall score. Think about it. When it comes to the competition and how you end up with a score overall you can usually trace you placement back to about 20% of the match. The 1 stage out of 12 that you bombed caused you to be 3rd. The 3 swingers in the match accounted for 80% of your missed shots. The 6 weak handed shots cost you. This doesn’t always apply but I really do think that when it comes to making or breaking your goal a lot can be said for that 20% of specialized skills.

So what does that mean for our practice and training? For me, I know that when it comes to the “really hard stuff”, the things that can really make a difference in how you finish overall that is the stuff that needs to be added to your practice regularly. We can’t ignore the basics, the draws, the sight alignments, the trigger pulls, but we need to add in the special stuff.

What are some of those 20% items that we could probably all work on?
– Shooting at Distance: We all like to practice at 7, 10 and maybe even 12 yards. But when is the last time you really worked on the 20, 25, 35, or even 50 yards. Do you even know where to aim?

– One handed shooting: there are very few matches where you don’t see at least a few shots one hand. This can be required because of a standards stage, but I have also seen this necessary with really hard leaning positions. Knowing that if you have to lean around a wall and shoot one handed, you can do it, can be a huge confidence boost.

– Moving targets. Swingers, drop turners and clam shells. If you have the ability to practice them, help to set them up in your local club match or just to mentally think about it, DO IT! These are usually a small percentage of the number of shots but they are always worth hitting.

– Steel Targets: believe it or not shooting steel and shooting paper is different. Just like you need to practice those movers make sure that you don’t neglect your steel. Practice transitioning back and forth between paper and steel so you know how you need to stop, prep your trigger and aim at the steel to knock it down on the first shot.

– Reloading from staged mags. This is another one that shows up in matches all the time. This is also a bonus skill because it is something that you can practice both in live fire and dry fire. If your mags are staged on a table or barrel, how do you pick the up? Do you stow them? How do you stow? Pick up one or two at a time? If the gun is unloaded and you have to load and stow do you pick up two mags or one? Do you stow first or load first? Every scenario is a great way to practice and a potential time savings.

Whether you are just starting or have been shooting for many years it is a great idea to look at your shooting performance as a whole. Where are the areas that you need work? Sometimes it is hard to find them. If you aren’t sure try to think about the unusual 20%. What are the strange things that matches ask you to do only once in a while? Give them a little practice and I know you will be surprised on how your score can change by devoting some practice time to those occasional skills. Be safe and shoot straight!