If you are serious about performance, then baselines will be a central part of your training program. Baselines are used to compare performance, to establish knowns.
Baselines are not for training. You do not use a baseline drill to improve your shooting. You use baseline drills to evaluate your performance and make critical observations. These observations are then used to judge several areas. Has your training been effective at sustaining your skills over time. Has your training helped improve performance of your speed and or accuracy domains. Training has specific goals of improving capability, capacity, productivity and performance. Baselines address the effectiveness of your training.
Folks misunderstand baselines all the time and it has lead to some confusion. I had this discussion the other day during our Professional Development, but it bears sharing with the larger audience. No, a baseline is not what you can do after you have practiced the drill over and over. That is nothing more than practicing for a drill. Or another way to think of it is learning the test and not the material. If you shoot the same drill over and over in an effort to improve your “score” that is not a baseline. A baseline performance evaluation is your ability to “on command” demonstrate a skill under specific conditions to a minimum standard. That is it…
Baselines are also not standards. A standard is defined as having attained a level of achievement. The standards must be observable, measurable and repeatable. If you cannot see what it is you are trying to improve there is no way to know if you are making improvements. If you cannot observe the task then you will not be able to measure the task. Measuring the task provides the opportunity for growth, to compare past performance with present and set a mark for future. The most important part to any standards is it being repeatable. If you cannot repeat the standard, then how do you know whether it is luck or skill. How do you know whether the material has been retained or behavior has been changed. A standard is something achievable on a regular basis.
The most important part to baselines is understanding they are an assessment of what you can do on command. This means, no advanced notice, no warmup and no training. Advanced notice is something harder to control. If you train in a group, then you can have one member come up with the baseline everyone will be required to perform. Or, you can use the Baseline suit in our TACOST training cards. Just shuffle them up and randomly pick a card. You do not want to warm up or practice the baseline, this is supposed to be a cold performance. This ties into the training aspect and what gets people wrapped around the axle.
The Command Performance
When you are setting up a baseline, the ideal number of repetitions is seven (7). The maximum number of attempts is ten (10). This means, whatever the baseline you will perform you are only allowed ten attempts. Anything more than ten and you are not evaluating performance, you are training. The standard is very important here, but so is the task and conditions. You want to clearly define the task. For instance, draw from the holster and fire three rounds. The conditions would be from the seven yard line versus an eight inch target. The standard is 100%; which means you do not count any of your missed attempts. Remember, you are trying to discover your capabilities. Not what you might be able to do, but what you can do. Once you have meet the standard for seven repetitions you discard your fastest and slowest times. Average the remaining five (5) repetitions to discover your baseline time for this drill. This is the time it takes you to perform the drill to the minimum standard. In other words, this is your on command performance.
From here, you then work to improve your skills through varying the conditions. This is where the real fun begins, where you see the shooter grow.