It's always a blend of multiple goals when I go to the range, two in particular. On one hand, I simply enjoy shooting. I find it a relaxing activity, one of the few things I do that totally and completely removes thoughts of anything else; no distractions, no bills, no deadlines, just the shooting. On the other hand, I crave self-improvement. I want to shoot to the best of my ability. When I go to matches, I compete against myself, and am my own worse critic. I don't expect to bring home any trophies, but I sure want to leave the match feeling good and knowing I did the best I could.
Where the decision comes in, is deciding what to do in the limited time I have at the range. There are a few things I try to do frequently, if not every time. For example, it's my goal to spend a short bit of time shooting one-handed at every range trip (and every dry fire practice too.) Looking through my practice log, I realize I have neglected those SHO and WHO exercises the last two range visits. It's not that I forgot, I just ran out of time and ammo. For example, I got into shooting some longer distances during the last outing and spent more time than usual on that.
In a few weeks, I'll be participating in a match that has stages shot in the dark, while holding a flashlight. With few exceptions, I haven't done that since shooting the same match a year ago. So a refresher with the flashlight is high on my list of things to do soon.
I mentioned the pure enjoyment aspect of shooting at the start. In addition to the guns I use frequently to compete, there are other firearms I own that I also want to shoot, just for fun. There's always a decision to be made, do I pack another pistol or rifle to shoot? Or do I concentrate on competition-specific skills? Decisions, decisions.
Neither time nor ammunition comes in infinite supply. The local outdoor range has gotten so restrictive that it's hardly worth the 12 minute drive to get to it. The indoor range where most of my practice is done is an hour away from my home, and that means there are no quick runs to try something new. Trips are generally scheduled, rather than spontaneous.
So, thinking out loud... For the next range trip, starting 50 rounds with flashlight in hand, 50 rounds of SHO/WHO shooting, 50 rounds on the timed turning target, 50 rounds with some other pistol "for fun." But I always want to end with the competition gun, so another 50 rounds...
We're going to need more ammo!