It is no surprise: becoming an expert takes a lot of time, dedication and motivation. Whether the goal is work-oriented or a personal hobby, such as becoming an excellent marksman or athlete, both require the same checklist. These list items below were presented by Lon Bartel, VirTra’s Director of Training and Curriculum, during the 2021 ILEETA conference:
Personal motivation is a critical element. After all, you cannot force someone to become and expert in an area they do not care about—they will not put forth the effort or dedication necessary. Instead, people need to establish their own reasons to take part.
Before beginning, set measurable, obtainable goals. It is important to be specific while ensuring the goal is quantitative enough to be measured. For example, in regards to the marksmanship skill, having the goal to shoot with 90% accuracy or the ability to draw and fire 1 round at 7 yards in 1.75 seconds are both specific and measurable.
Utilize the Uncomfortable
As mentioned in a previous article, if the training doesn’t challenge you, it will not change you. People naturally grow and adapt when challenged, otherwise we become complacent and plateau. The feelings of unease and failure are necessary, but it is overcoming the struggle that allows people to increase their skills.
Unfortunately, every person hits a plateau where they don’t see any growth or improvement. This is natural, though naturally, causes frustration. During times like these, you may want to blow off training, but this is when it is most critical! Frequent daily practice of dedicated focus will get you up and over the hump to a place where you can see great results again.
Without feedback, how will you know the areas needing improvement? Or exactly how close you are to meeting your goal? The best types of feedback are coaches, videos and forms of measurable performance. Without feedback, you cannot efficiently learn or improve.
This may not be something you thought of, but in the pursuit of excellence, you need to carve out recovery time. Rest for the body is just as critical as the brain, since it provides time for neural pathways to be consolidated. For most skills, a proven method is practicing with complete focus for 1 hour followed by an extended break.
Instructors and officers alike can apply these principles to whatever skill they are focusing on, whether it be personal or duty-related. Train smarter, train harder and train better with these tips on achieving expertise.
To learn more about becoming an expert, download VirTra Director of Training and Curriculum Lon Bartel’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.