Tony Liddle coach Daisy Nationals

A Liddle Look Inside the Rockin’ Shots – How Tony and Shelley Liddle Coach for Success

A Liddle Look Inside the Rockin’ Shots – How Tony and Shelley Liddle Coach for Success 540 450 Daisy

Coaching youth in any sport often comes from a simple desire to spend more time with your kids, and/or to share your love for that sport with others. It’s no different in the shooting sports, especially when you’re talking 5-meter BB. This introduction to the shooting sports allows parents to learn along with their kids and be involved by “coaching” them at the firing line.

Like many coaches, Tony and Shelley Liddle got into it because of their son.

“It was 2014 when our son Derek joined the Rockin’ Shots,” said current Rockin’ Shot coach Tony Liddle. (The Rockin’ Shots is the BB team for the Rockingham County 4-H Shooting Sports out of Virginia.) “After his first competition, which was a qualifying match for the Daisy Nationals, he loved it so much that we asked him if this was something he really wanted to do.”

Liddle said after a few days of thinking about it, Derek decided he did want to compete, and Tony and Shelley wanted to help. Since then, they have attended the Jr. Olympics twice, 4-H Nationals and other National Matches, including the Daisy Nationals. Son Derek has aged out, but fortunately there is a Liddle girl to take his place – daughter Carly.

“This will be our ninth Daisy Nationals and Carly’s third time competing.”

Beware, though, that your initial effort to spend time with your kids and share the fun of the shooting sports may develop into more than you anticipated. Shelley is now a Level 2 Coordinator and the State Secretary for the Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports Council, and Tony is a Level 1 certified instructor in Rifle and Shotgun, Level 2 certified instructor in Muzzleloader, Level 3 certified instructor in Pistol and the Pistol Chairman of the Virginia 4-H Shooting Sports Council.

Tony Liddle coaching

The Rockin’ Shots start the year in October by adding new shooters. BB competition is the first level of shooting competition, and eligible ages to compete in the Daisy Nationals is 8 to 15. The target is placed at 5 meters and competitors shoot in four positions – Standing, Kneeling, Sitting and Prone.

“Every new team member goes through nine weeks of gun safety training using the Daisy 10-Lesson Curriculum,” Liddle said. “The team breaks for the holidays then starts practicing hard in January to get ready for Spring Air, Virginia’s qualifying match for the Daisy Nationals.”

Preparation for the Daisy Nationals begins on the way home from Spring Air, Liddle said. “We reach out to the parents to see if they are interested in going to Rogers. Once the parents agree, we call the kids and ask them if they will shoot for the Rockin’ Shots at the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match. Usually, the next thing we hear is ‘Oh my God yes!’”

Then the practice intensifies. The team sets goals and plans, and works on achieving those in weekly practices. The kids also practice at home, in between regular practice. It’s not all shooting practice, though. Teams study material that may be on the written test. All competitors at the Daisy Nationals must take a test on gun safety, marksmanship, competition rules and NRA rules, and their scores factor into their final score.

“The test can really stress out some of the kids,” Liddle said. “My wife, Shelley, really works hard to make fun ways to study. She doesn’t just read through the 10-lesson curriculum and rule book – she’s great at making learning fun.”

Coaching always comes with duties that don’t have anything to do with practicing a sport. Anytime a team has to travel to compete in a match or game, there are costs involved.

“The hardest part in preparation for the Daisy Nationals is fundraising,” Liddle said. “We always say that we never want a family to say ‘no, we can’t go’ because they can’t afford it. We find a way and make it happen!”

So, the coaches must teach gun safety, shooting techniques, written test prep, raise funds and much more. But with solid leadership and communication from the head coaches, parents-turned-coaches often find that the rewards far outweigh the benefits.

“Remember that your team of coaches is as important as your team of shooters,” he said. “Without our team of coaches, the Rockin’ Shots would not have come this far. Some of our coaches are just as invested in the success of our members as the head coaches, and we owe them most of the credit for this team’s success over the past years.”

The youths have a “coach” at the firing line to load the gun and keep the shooter on task. Often those coaches are a parent, and both are learning as they go. The steady hand and attitude of a parent is just what most of the competitors – especially the younger ones – need at the line, because according to Liddle, the kids can be their worst enemy.

“They might make a bad shot and now that’s the only thing they can think of,” he said. “We tell our coaches to let the youth know that they can’t focus on the last shot – focus on the shot you are taking now.”

How about motivation? How do you motivate a team of youth to practice and improve their marksmanship and study for the test? For Liddle, motivating his team can cause some personal embarrassment.

He is renowned for the bets he makes with his teams. Liddle even worn a dress to closing ceremonies once because his team reached a goal on test performance. That may be a bit extreme, but his teams respond to the bets, as evidenced by the painted fingernails and wigs he’s been seen in. (Tony wanted it stressed that his wife approves all bets!)

“There are so many bets!” he said. “I’ve won a few but lost a lot more – and I really love to lose them. That means we achieved a goal!”

Coaching and being a part of a BB team is incredibly rewarding. It’s a fantastic way to simply spend more time with your youth, and make a lot of memories along the way.



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