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Make Memory Stages your STRENGTH!!!

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Memory stages seem to be a significant challenge for a lot of shooters so I figured I would compile some best practices on how to tackle them. These best practices are not a one size fits all solution for every possible memory stage. But it should at least give you some effective tools to use while tackling memory stages. Give these a try and let me know how it works out for you.


Memory Stage Breakdown Best Practices


1 – Locate ALL of the targets before trying to formulate any stage plan or strategy. Knowing where all of the targets are located helps you understand the required shooting positions within the shooting area.


2 – Use the buddy system as needed to help locate specific targets or identify targets that can be seen from multiple positions. This works best if you have one person standing in the shooting area and another person standing down range behind the targets in question. Using this buddy system will allow you to easily locate specific targets. If you don’t have a buddy to work with, use an easily identifiable object that you can place on the ground just in front of the target(s). An alternate method is to stand at the position of the targets then look back towards the shooting area to identify where within the shooting area the targets can be engaged.  


3 – Find visual markers on the ground, props or target stands which will help you efficiently locate and hit specific shooting positions. These could be nails in the fault lines, junctions between fault lines, marks on the walls, barrels or even unique identifiers on the target stands, sticks or targets. Using visual markers to define each shooting position will enable you to hit each shooting position effectively and restrict your target engagement to only the intended targets. Visual markers should be easily located and dissimilar enough to minimize confusion.


4 – Once all of the targets, shooting positions and visual markers are located THEN you can start to formulate the actual path of movement through the stage. Precision movement into and out of each shooting position is very important as it is usually very easy to miss a shooting position slightly. A missed shooting position will usually expose or hide unintended targets. This is where using visual markers to precisely position yourself within each shooting position becomes very important. Your shooting position strategy should be biased towards easily located and successfully hit shooting positions. If you can’t consistently locate or hit the shooting positions in dry fire, then it’s unlikely that you will be able to do it when you actually shoot the stage. Creating consistency in locating or hitting the shooting positions may require adding additional shooting positions. Adding more shooting positions has the potential of increasing stage time because each position takes time to get into and out of. But additional shooting positions that can be successfully deployed and executed will usually result in a better stage time than trying to force using less shooting positions that are missed and you need to shuffle around to access all of the required targets. Consistency in shooting position deployment should be paramount verses eliminating extra positions and making hitting them less consistent.   


5 - Whenever possible use a target engagement order that produce easily remembered movement path of the gun as it transitions between targets. It’s usually best to pick a single movement path of the gun within a shooting position while engaging all of the targets that you can see. This also assumes that you are not reengaging the same targets in another position. Sometimes we are faced with a target presentation scenario that exposes the same targets from multiple positions. If possible, define the shooting positions to eliminate or minimize seeing the same targets from multiple positions. If that is not possible, it’s usually best to make these engage or not to engage decisions earlier within the stage plan verses later. Doing so creates a scenario where you are making the hard to program decision process shooting positions happen up front, then it becomes much simpler by having a “Shoot everything your see” from all of the remaining positions type of plan.


6 – Count shots within shooting positions to minimize confusion or getting lost. It’s easier to program and deploy a simplified stage plan that consists of the following example. Move to the first shooting position by putting my left foot on the junction between those two fault lines. Then engage all the targets I can see from left to right while firing 8 shots worth of targets. Then move to the next position. Counting shots like this allows you to have confidence that the require targets from each shooting position have been engaged. This also assumes that you have located yourself within the position precisely so that only the intended targets can be seen or engaged.


7 – Once you have solidified your stage strategy, now you have to put in the proper quantity of physical and mental rehearsals to effectively program the stage plan. This is where most shooters fail on memory stages. They feel that since they walked the stage enough to locate all of the targets and formulated a strategy to engage the targets then it will magically happen that way when they shoot the stage. Dry firing the stage both physically and mentally at a realistic pace is also vitally important. If your dry fire of the stage is much faster than your live fire performance then you will likely fail during the live fire performance because it is a “Different” experience than what you expect it to be. From a stage plan programming perspective it is not uncommon for me to need 5 – 10 physical and 20 – 30 mental rehearsals before my stage plan has been effectively programmed. This programming process takes a tremendous amount of focused effort which takes away from the time I have to BS with my squadmates, observe other shooters, or whatever else. If you don’t put in the proper stage programming effort then you can’t expect to execute the stage run successfully.


8 – Treat every stage like a “Memory” stage with regards to the level of effort you invest in programming the stage plan. The more you exercise stage programming skills on a regular basis, the easier it is and the more effective it becomes. The shooters who have significant problems with memory stages are also the same shooters who do a very poor job of programming their stage plans in general. For every stage you are tasked with shooting, you should have a stage programming process that burns in the plan to the point of subconscious execution when you have to shoot it. If you have to consciously “Think” your way through normal non-memory stages then you are not programming the stage plan effectively enough. If you can’t effectively program a “Normal” stage then you will not be able to effectively program a much more complex “Memory” stage.

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4 hours ago, CHA-LEE said:

Anyone else have luck in deploying my suggestions for Memory stages?


Just found this thread.  Memory stages are a definite weak spot so will give this a try.



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