Positive Self-Analysis

May 24, 2016

Positive Self-Analysis

At the Tactical Performance Center we care very much about your continued improvement even after you leave our range. Whether or not you are a TPC student though, we want you to be able to practice effectively on your own.

In order to train effectively at home, you first need to know what to practice and focus on. In this article, I’ll help you understand how you can determine what to practice (what needs improvement) and most importantly, how to think positively about what you want to do, versus focusing on what you don’t want to do. 

Positive Thinking

Positive Questioning Leads to Positive Actions

Have you ever asked somebody “how did it go?” after a competition or a practice at the range? The usual response is a list of all the negatives: “I dropped 20 points”, or “Ugh… two misses.”

Rather than focusing on the negatives, at TPC we teach positively by requesting that students do something, versus not do something.

For example, if we say “don’t punch out,” what did you learn? Well, not to punch out. Anything else? Nope, and you still have no idea what to do.

Instead, we say “raise the sights to your eyes, let gravity stop the gun for you.” Now you know exactly how to correct the issue and can immediately make the change.

Now let’s go back to our original question. Instead of asking “how did it go?” why not ask “what’s working?” Instead of negative responses, you'll get something like “I called every shot last stage” or “I nailed my draw on the timed portion of the qual.”

Why not do the same for yourself? Ask what is working. Ask what you can do to improve. By asking questions this way you will get a completely different view and can make effective plans for your training. 

What are you learning from your piles of fired brass?

What are you learning from your piles of brass?

Successful After Action Reviews

A few decades back, while I was in the Army, I was taught two things that have had lasting positive impacts on my life. The first was reverse planning (I’ll write a separate article on that), and the second was effective after action reviews (AAR). The Army method was more complicated and group oriented, but here is a basic AAR plan we use at TPC to create positive thinking and plans for individuals:

  • What worked that we want to repeat?
  • What specific things will we do to improve?
  • What tools or training do we need to put in place?

As an example, after each TPC class we hold an AAR. Here is one (shortened) from a recent boot camp:

  • What worked?
    • The team relays rocked. Keep doing those.
  • What specific things will we do to improve?
    • Encourage double plugging (relays are loud since they are conducted in a pavilion)
    • Ensure instructors compete as well
  • What tools or training?
    • Buy tub of foamies and keep in the pavilion so students can double-plug
    • Supplement instructor ammo draw so they have ammo to compete

Note that everything is positive “what to do” actions. What might have been “Some students developed an anticipation flinch because of the excess noise in the pavilion” instead became “double plug,” an easy solution and exactly what we want to do.

Putting it into Action

After your next practice, sit down and do a quick AAR with yourself. It does not need to be lengthy but you should document it–perhaps in a text to yourself, in a shooters notebook (highly recommended), or in an ongoing Google doc.

Here’s an example of what your AAR note might look like:

  • What worked? Using dot targets.
  • What will I do to improve? Add in visual acceptability exercises.
  • What tools or training to put that in place? Replace front sight with red fiber optic.

And at some point, perhaps add in “TPC Boot Camp” for the training component of your AAR!

-Ken Nelson, Co-Founder



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