Psychological Pointer

How Shooting Diary Pushed My Career Forward

Živa Dvoršak

Oct 4, 2021

I’ve been shooting for 17 years, and very early in my career I realised that shooting is more than just spending time at the range improving your technique. My first coach used to tell me that you only need to execute every shot technically correct to win a competition. And write a shooting diary. I agreed with him. But I already knew it back then that achieving a flawless shooting technique requires more than just shooting. Our body needs good support to stand in the same position for hours. Our mind needs to be calm and quiet so that we can focus on the shot at hand. Since then, I’ve been interested in shooting as a holistic sport.

My shooting career has led me all around the world. I’ve experienced all levels of competitions and, most importantly, I’ve met so many amazing people down the road, experts in the fields of shooting, sports psychology, fitness, nutrition, etc. In addition to their views and approaches, I’ve read numerous books to further upgrade my knowledge and comprehension of shooting sport. I quickly understood what this overall approach requires, but I was still having trouble putting this theory into practice – especially implementing good work from training into competitions.

The Turning Point

Dear diary entry about shooting

The shift happened when I changed my approach to writing my shooting diary. I always hated writing it. My first ever written entry was “Dear diary! I hate you, and I don’t want to write in you!” Since nobody actually told me what to note down in my diary, I then spent the next few years writing down statistics (date, time, score), which is fine, but it doesn’t tell you much about how you got there and how you moved on

From time to time, I would add some emotional outburst about how bad my shooting was, how much my rifle was shaking and how hopeless I felt with all those problems. Even though I was already a great promoter of positive thinking and knew how our thoughts impact our behaviour, it took me years to realise how writing down my (bad) feelings and emotions instead of analysing my practice hurt my shooting in many ways. Not only did I feel hopeless during practice, I also started feeling and acting like that on my way to the range.

What and How You Write Impacts Your Behaviour

It finally occurred to me that (hand)written words have an even larger impact on our behaviour. Actually, they have an impact on our thoughts, and our thoughts impact our behaviour. So, I asked myself how I would like to feel after the shooting session and what I need to do to achieve that. I wanted to feel a sense of progress, a sense that I have control over my shooting. I didn’t want to just complain about how nothing works, waiting for a day to come when shots would just “fly” in the centre without knowing how that happened. 

I started paraphrasing my entries from “My rifle is shaking so much that I can’t hit anything” to “I’m looking for a way to make my rifle still”. Or “I’m thinking too much about exam tomorrow” to “When I’m at the range, I focus on the shot process”. I stopped with the negative “Don’t jerk the trigger” and changed it to the positive “Smoothly pull the trigger.”

It felt strange and artificial at the beginning. It felt like a lie, to be honest. However, only after a few weeks, I noticed that I wasn’t coming to the range feeling rushed because of homework or annoyed because my rifle was shaking. Instead, I came with enthusiasm and new ideas on fixing my position to make my rifle still. I came with determination and interest to see if I can execute each shot with this new approach. Not only did my scores start to improve, I was also able to transfer this approach to competitions.

Mark It as Done

Keeping in mind the power of written words, I started finishing my shooting diary entries with statements on things I wished to achieve (score- and approach-wise) but writing it down like I’d already accomplished it. I used the written word to shape my mind, making it believe that I’m at a higher level, and then letting thoughts shape my actions to actually rise higher.

This new way of writing and thinking about my shooting felt like a tremendous step in my career, and I wanted to share it with other shooters to enable them to reach their potential too. I’m grateful I’ve connected with Sonja, who’s extremely proactive in making ideas come to life. She contributed a considerable part in making our Shooting Notes see the light of day and giving you, dear shooters, the opportunity to start writing your shooting analysis differently. To write in such a way that shapes your thoughts and actions and guides them towards higher scores and better approaches. 

Some of you might still find it helpful to write about your emotions, and you’re asking yourself if you should stop or if this hurts your performance. Continue writing; that’s one of the best ways to cope with your mental well-being. Just bear in mind that this belongs in a different notebook!

Živa Dvoršak, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo by Matic Klansek Velej / Sportida
Živa Dvoršak, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo by Matic Klansek Velej / Sportida
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