Shooting Pointers

3 Competition Season Shooting Drills: Make Yourself Uncomfortable

Živa Dvoršak & Sonja Benčina

Feb 3, 2023

The start of a new year usually opens the international competition calendar and brings larger national competitions, too. This is the time where we want to use the stress of these matches to check how well we are prepared for the upcoming seasonal peaks and see if there is any fine tuning to be done. Overall, trainings should be focused on practice matches and finals, and one-on-one duels with your shooting friends. A welcome addition to your practices are also as many different external disturbing factors as possible. Train in a loud, busy, smelly, cold, or hot environment! The main goal is to make yourself uncomfortable! To add a mentally challenging level to your practice, try out these three competition period drills.

Drill 1: Penalty Shots

The majority of shooters is afraid of shooting a bad shot, right? This drill puts an even bigger pressure on below-average shots than usual as every subpar shot will bring you two additional penalty shots! To begin, take your personal best and calculate your average shot based on it. For example, if your PB is 604.5, your average shot is 10.075, which we round up to 10.1. Pistol shooters: use decimals, too! After your sighting shots, your match with penalty shots begins. You have to shoot 40 shots, but watch out – every shot below your average shot (e.g. every shot below 10.1) costs you an additional two shots once you are done with your 40 shots. Let’s say that you scored 27 shots above 10.1 and 13 shots below 10.1. When you finish your 40 shots, you still have 26 penalty shots before you can finish practice. (Advanced shooters: for a physically more challenging and longer practice, you can also have penalty shots on your penalty shots! So out of your first 26 penalty shots, every below-average shot will, again, cost you 2 penalty shots. You can continue until you have no more penalty shots to shoot.)

As this can be a long and strenuous practice, make sure you are well warmed-up and that you make breaks as needed.

A Sius target, Shooting Notes, Trainings Buddy with shooting drills, and air rifle setup

Drill 2: Trainings Buddy

If you ever feel stuck and have no idea what drill to include in your next practice, a great tool on the shooting market is Trainings Buddy. Available in English, German, and French, these handy booklets (different for pistol and rifle shooters) contain 44 drills in 4 different categories (technique, performance, special, and game) and 3 difficulty levels (the lowest level is calculated for shooters who score 400.0 in 40 shots, but you can easily adapt the exercises to your own level). Bernhard of team Trainings Buddy says that the following drill is one of his favourites “because you have a positive effect (reward) when you achieve the task of this exercise. It’s not necessary to do dry practice on a balance pad afterwards – you also can us a curled-up mat or something else which is unstable.” Using a balance board/unstable shooting surface around one week before a competition will strengthen your micro-muscles and increase your stability.

A shooting drill from the book Trainings Buddy for rifle and pistol shooters
Left: Drill description. Centre: Pistol goals. Right: Rifle goals.

Drill 3: Best Goes First

This is a drill for you and your shooting friend! After your sighting shots, you will compete shot by shot. To decide who goes first, take a shot each. The person with the highest scoring shot begins the competition and is the first person to shoot one pellet. After the second shooter sees the score, they must try and shoot a better shot. The person with the highest scoring shot gets two points and is the first person to shoot the next pellet. In case of a tie, you can either repeat the round or break the tie with a shoot-off. You can continue the game until you reach a certain score (if you want to mimic the gold medal match rules, the score to reach is 16). Extra rule: while you are waiting for your friend to get their shot in, you can talk, sing, or produce other disturbing sounds to try and make them lose their focus. The goal of this drill is to overcome the pressure of shooting a set score – which is something we are all familiar with (“If I shoot a 10.3 or more, my series will be over 102.0”, “If I finish my match with a 10.5 or more, I will score my personal best”, etc.).

Sonja Benčina and Živa Dvoršak both scoring 10.9 with air rifle

Never forget: the most important thing to bear in mind during your trainings and competitions is to maintain your position, your approach, and your routines that you have been building since the beginning of the season. Competitions will be a great litmus paper for seeing how well your basis has been set. If you notice an element that needs changing, improving, or practicing more, feel free to take a practice or two from the preparation or even the pre-season period.

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