Some people don’t bother with New Year's resolutions, but I’m a firm believer in them. Remember in school when you would make a list of goals for the semester and by the end of the year you could tick off a few? It felt good, right? Goals are the best way to visualize success and give yourself the motivation to try something new, or to actually do the things you want to do. A New Year's resolution is just a goal for the new year and an optimistic way to kick off another trip around the sun.
Don't hesitate to choose more than one resolution; just be sure they are reasonable. The more specific your goals are, the better. Do you want to get your draw down to under 1.5 seconds? Or do you want to get to the range at least twice a month? Both are great goals that you can accomplish in the new year. I would also recommend documenting your resolution. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, but jotting it down at the top of your calendar or creating a note in your phone makes it feel more real and attainable.
Take a Class
Whether you’re an experienced shooter or just have a gun gathering dust, in-person instruction is the best way to learn new skills and develop your proficiencies. Continuous training is an important part of responsible gun ownership. Classes are also a great way to get outside, meet new people and learn new things! Whether you attend the NRA’s Basics of Pistol Shooting or Gunsite’s Ballistic Response Against Violent Encounters, it’s worth a shot. Pointers from a professional are the best way to take your solo range practice to the next level. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our Four Factors for Finding an Instructor.
Enter a Competition
Plinking away at the range is a great stress relief and good practice, but it can get boring. It’s OK to shoot just for fun. Remember road tripping with your friends to soccer tournaments, picking out the best snacks for an all-day swim meet, or getting pizza after an epic softball win? All of that fun, bonding and excitement exists outside of elementary school in competitive shooting! The options are endless, from shotgun sports and International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), to simply signing up for a match at your local range.
Time outdoors, exciting travel destinations, bonding with buddies, organic meat, unique home décor, deep internal reflection … the positives to hunting are endless. But how do you get started? A mentor is the best way to get into hunting. Someone familiar with the process can help you safely learn the ropes. If no friends or family come to mind, the Field to Fork program is able to pair you with a mentor. Their organized classes and trips make hunting accessible to everyone. There are also online hunter education courses that will give you a good overview and prepare you for your license.
Try Different Calibers
Now is the perfect time to experiment with different calibers, considering 9 mm ammo is especially hard to find these days. If you can’t borrow a gun from a friend, there are a few other ways to try out new calibers. Some ranges and stores allow you to rent guns, which is a great opportunity to test some firearms and find out what you like. Sometimes moving up in caliber can be intimidating, so check out these tips on how to move up.
Reload Your Own Ammo
Reloading is a complicated business, but well worth it if you’re willing to put in the time. With COVID-19 precautions, a lot of us have more time than we know what to do with, so reloading might be a cost-efficient and relaxing pastime to pick up this year. Read The Case For—and Against—Reloading Your Own Ammunition for a breakdown of the process and to decide if handloading is for you.
Picking out your New Year’s resolution is the easy part … sticking to it is another story. However, if you pick specific, attainable goals and commit to them, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed. Try to take a step toward your goal quickly, no matter how small. If you want to enter into a competition, look up a schedule on your phone New Year’s Day, or text a friend who competes for advice. One small step will get your mind on your goal and make it that much easier to actually complete after the champagne bottles are long gone.
If you’re still worried about slacking off on the things you really want to do, read up on these motivation tips to pinpoint just what makes you tick. My personal motivation stems from immersing myself in my interests. I’ll read a book, listen to a podcast, make it my phone background and follow some relevant social media accounts. These small reminders take no commitment and little effort, but get me excited about my goals and keep me focused. I hope you, too, find a New Year’s Resolution and the motivation to make it happen in 2021.