Goal setting can be tricky. I’ve spent the last 24 years helping people design and execute plans to better themselves. Through the years, I’ve discovered some common ground on where people tend to fall short. I’d like to shed some light on where you might be going wrong in this process, which ultimately leads to another year of failed attempts at improvement.

Goals Need to Be Important

When you decide to make a change, you must have an important reason for making this change. Without an important reason, it’s too easy to quit at the first signs of adversity. The personal benefits of your goal must outweigh any obstacles you may run into along the way. When your goal has personal meaning, then you’ll figure out a way around any obstacle to continue executing your plan. Taking time to identify the WHY may be the single most important thing that you do.

Goals Need to Be Specific and Challenging

Imagine if someone gave you a bow or rifle, pointed at a 6’x6′ block and said, “Shoot it.” Now imagine that same scenario, only this time there is a one-inch orange dot in the middle of that block and your goal was to hit the dot. The first request may leave you feeling a little confused, unfocused, and unchallenged. However, having to focus on a one-inch dot on that target will require you to focus on the entire shooting process in order to accomplish it. Make sure your goals are specific and challenging enough that it requires you to focus on the target.

When you reach your goal, you want to know without a doubt that you accomplished what you set out to do. This means attaching a value to your goal that is easily identifiable. A specific weight, distance, or time are the most common ways to identify successes and will help you keep your focus on the dot.

Set Landmarks

Once you have your destination set out in front of you, spend some time laying out a road map to your destination. Much like making a trek into the backcountry, you need to layout benchmarks along the way that will keep you heading in the right direction. These landmarks are there to assure you that you’re on the right path and should motivate you to conquer the next one. Reaching your goal is an accumulation of putting together a daily plan to conquer these landmarks until you have arrived at your destination.

Make the Daily Plan the Most Important Piece of the Puzzle

Your day-to-day dedication must be unwavering. Every day that you execute your training plan, stick to your nutrition plan, hydrate, and recover, you will win the day. To reach your goal, you must win today, tomorrow, and the next day, which requires a daily plan. It seems simple, but if you win enough days, you’ll reach your first landmark.

Once you conquer your first landmark, you’ll be motivated to conquer the next. Conquer enough landmarks and you’ll reach your goal. But first, you must win today!

A home gym doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A $3 piece of PVC pipe is an awesome tool for shoulder warmup and balance exercises. Here are a few items I’ve used extensively over the last few years that you might find helpful and that are tailored to the hunter’s lifestyle.


For years I struggled with plantar fasciitis that required painful cortisone injections on the bottom and heel of my feet. I spent hundreds of dollars on orthotics and devices that never seemed to work. Then, one of my fellow rim-rim-rim hikers showed up with a pair of Altra trail shoes with their unique extra-wide toe box and zero-drop design (heel to toe on the same plane). After five years and probably 5,000 miles in Altra shoes, I’ve had zero foot or knee pain.

Altra makes shoes designed for trails to pavement with multiple cushioning levels. If you have a passion for running on dirt, take a look at the Timp; for more predictable terrain, the Torin is a dream come true.

I love the fact that as a company, Altra is just as interested in educating their customers as they are in selling them more shoes. To learn more about their unique designs and company philosophy, check out their website and see what I mean.

Cost: $100-$130. Contact: www.altrarunning.com

altra shoes


If you’re serious about getting ready to haul a heavy pack around the mountains, then you need an Atlas Trainer pack. Of course, you can throw all kinds of stuff in your own pack and haul it around the hills, but the reality is you probably won’t.

The Atlas Trainer is a simple attachment to the Outdoorsmans pack (I’d recommend you buy a dedicated pack for it) that allows you to mount Olympic-style weights with ease. It also keeps the weight tight to your back, thus reducing potential back strain when compared to other options.

This setup provides easy versatility – if you want to do box step-ups with 30 lbs. and quickly transition into a 50-lb. onemile ruck, then back to the 30-lb. step-up, you can do it.

Cost:  $99.99 (attachment only) | $299.99 (complete system) Contact: www.outdoorsmans.com

atlas trainer


Living in the Phoenix area has its advantages. For one, I don’t ever have to wonder if it’s safe to run outside. However, I have enough friends who live in “weather challenged” areas to know that running outside is a privilege. Nordic Track has three different units with a myriad of programming options, heart rate monitors, and sound systems (how cool is that). The best part for hunters is that you can simulate hill climbing with a 15% grade. If you incorporate the Outdoorsmans Atlas Trainer, it’s like having a wilderness trail system in your living room.

Cost:  $949-$1299.

Contact:  www.nordictrack.com



The most important piece of backyard gym equipment happens to be the simplest and least expensive – a dry bag filled with sand. There are dozens of exercises that can be enhanced with the addition of a sand bag.  Kenton Clairmont has been using the same SealLine dry bags for many years at every Train to Hunt Challenge event. These bags get dropped, thrown, packed and stacked hundreds of times a year and keep on going.

Cost: $20-40. Contact: www.seallinegear.com

baja dry bags


The human shoulder is tremendously complex. The simple act of lifting a gallon of milk from the top shelf of the refrigerator requires muscles from the neck all the way to the lower back to fire in correct order. Symmetrical strength from all of these muscles groups is critical to execute and exercise something as simple as a pushup. For hunters, many of our movements are asymmetrical – especially shooting a bow. Crossover Symmetry developed a series of resistance bands and related equipment that can be used in any home and on the road. Their website is stuffed with information and videos on how to strengthen your shoulders.

Cost: Full starter package – $195. Contact: www.crossoversymmetry.com

red crossover cords