Teens in Cookeville, Tenn., who would like to learn to shoot have been able to do so for the past year at the American Legion Post 46 since Marty Goodman, a veteran junior shooting instructor, started up a local club about a year ago.
The adolescents meet every Saturday for a class and shooting practice, and the instruction is open for youngsters over the age of 12.
Goodman believes Lanny Bassham’s philosophy, that shooting is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. Bassham, an Olympic medalist, is the author of “With Winning in Mind”—a book that, based on his own competition experiences, teaches readers the importance of mind-set in helping to accomplish one’s goals.
Goodman says the mental game is a large part of his approach, but it’s something he won’t throw at a newcomer to the sport right away.
“I have a whole program, but one of the first steps deals with self-image,” Goodman said. “If you don’t like yourself, or you don’t think you can do something, nothing else really matters. So we work on positive thinking.”
Next comes concentration—and learning how to clear your mind of clutter before you shoot.
Bassham earned the silver medal in the 1972 Olympics, but he was frustrated by the outcome because he realized that nerves had played a part in preventing him from taking the gold. Eventually, he devised his “mental management” approach, and it paid off. He earned gold medals at subsequent international events, including the 1976 Olympics and several Pan Am Games.
The benefit of that approach is that the students not only learn how to shoot, but they can apply the same technique to other aspects of their lives, making them better students, higher achievers in the workplace, and so on, Goodman said.
Goodman, who brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to the table, realized that his area of Tennessee was lacking a junior club when he moved to the area several years ago. So he made it a goal to try to give area youth an option. The result was that he got the Legion to let him use the space and he received a Friends of NRA grant to buy air rifles and pellets.
The current crop of participants includes about 10 would-be sharp shooters, and chances are that some of these teens will end up with shooting scholarship offers, because 47 of Goodman’s one-time students have done so, with some others going on to one of the service academies. Aside from that, Goodman’s three children each attended college on shooting scholarships, so focusing on the mental side of shooting has proven to pay off.
Goodman invites people who might be interested to stop by one Saturday (classes are form 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to observe and try it before deciding.
“It’s not for everybody, and I’d rather have someone try it before committing, instead of committing then dropping out,” Goodman said.
Limited space at Post 46 means the shooting has to be done in relays, but Post 46 representative Rich Buford said the goal is to accommodate anyone who is interested. That extends to offering assistance to those who can’t afford the fee for manuals he said.
“The Post will make sure any student who wants to be involved will be,” he told the local newspaper.