I'm not certain that the 10,000 hour rule applies in all cases regarding shooting. I have seen some very talented shooters (Donnie Burton and Josh Lentz come to mind) who were still in their early 20s. They were able to accelerate their development through solid instruction, a good training regime and excellent equipment. It can be done.
I also can't argue with the 10,000 hour theory as it does apply to many top shooters. I'm certain I've passed that threshold, although I can't say for certain when. I was shooting competitively in International matches in 1972, and serving as a military instructor at the same time. I had been shooting for about six years at that point. In subsequent years there were break periods from competition, but not shooting.
When Mas dragged me into IDPA in 2005 I had never shot it before and had not shot any competitive matches in over a dozen years, although I was shooting regularly and had a range in my backyard.
Even with that, it took me a couple years worth of IDPA (and some USPSA) matches, and some equipment experimentation, to get totally comfortable with the "new" game. Interestingly enough, I'm using the same mag carriers and speedloader pouches I started with, so my previous experience appearently provided enough equipment knowledge in that area. It was just guns, holsters, sights and loads that changed. I suspect that is not uncommon.
I'm lockstep agreement with you about instruction, training and equipment; don't get me wrong.
Gladwell argues in his book that talent certainly counts but not as much as most think. In fact, the more practice time accrued the less innate talent matters.
Gladwell also points out that our environment and culture play a big role too. I think about Rob Leatham's story where he mentioned after church on Sunday his father would take them to the range to shoot. He grew up in a part of the country (AZ) where the culture embraces firearms. He started competitive shooting in the early years of IPSC and had the time to refine and hone his skills in that arena. And then there's Mas who talks about shooting a 1911 when he was twelve years old. And we know how old Mas is, don't we?
If you get a chance to pick up the book, I think you'll find it very fascinating; especially the story about the Korean pilots.
I have seen you and Mas shoot and it's always a treat to me to see you guys competing at a very high level while all of us whipper-snappers are just trying to keep up with you guys. I started concentrating on shooting three years ago and started shooting IDPA a little over a year ago. I have maybe 500 hours of contact time so by the time I'm 70 (I'm now 40) I should be where you were at in 1972......
But I'll like this stuff so I don't mind....