Can you train your brain to slip into deep focus and connect all the elements of your shooting routines in a single starting point?
Psychological Pointer, Shooting Pointer
Jan 4, 2022
Beginners to advanced shooters alike, having negative and doubtful thoughts is normal, especially on days and in the moments before competitions. Have I trained enough? Will I make it to the final? What if I get so nervous that I mess up my score? What will others think of me if I don’t show my best performance? I wonder what score is enough to enter the final, to win a medal. Oh no, the weather forecast shows it’s going to be windy! I’m shooting in front of a great shooter – how will it look if I hit a bad shot? And so on and so forth.
Yes, it’s tempting to know how others will shoot and what score will win a competition. After all, shooting is a sport of numbers, and we measure ourselves and get measured by others based on the score we achieve. The score is important! However, you have to step away from it and focus on what you can control to shoot at your best. You can’t control how others will shoot, and you can’t control the conditions on the range. But: you can control how YOU act and how YOU react on the shooting line.
Everything begins and ends with your shot routine
At Aiming Art, we invite you to take a few minutes and think about all the steps of your shot routine, from loading your rifle or pistol to executing the shot and moving into the next one. Now, write these steps down. Be as precise as possible. Start with actual movements: loading – do you check the pellet? Taking the rifle/pistol, where do you look, how do you find your position? When do you put your finger on the trigger? When do you wink for the last time? Where is your starting point when you look through your sights? From which side do you approach the target? How long do you aim? When and how do you pull the trigger? What happens during your follow through?
Think about how you breathe. When do you make your final exhale? Shot routine is not only technical. It’s mental too. Do you know when you direct your thoughts to the shot at hand? Do you have the same thought pattern that helps you stay focused?
Breaking down the shot routine will help you see how many steps there are, and thus give you different practice ideas. For example, sometimes you will want to focus on only one step from your process, let’s say always approaching the target from the same side.
Having an established shot routine also means you are on the way to making your steps automated, which will give you a sense of better control over yourself and the situation.
The list will also be helpful for visualisation training. If you don’t have time for actual shooting practice, you can go through your shot routine by imagining doing these steps from beginning to end.
Another great way to practice your concentration is to follow these steps mentally while performing them. When you train your mind in this way, it’s also easier to avoid disturbing thoughts when they pop up during competition. You simply redirect your thoughts to where you are at that moment. Even when you get nervous, you can ask yourself what you can control. And the more you are familiar with your steps, the easier the answer will come to you and the faster you will relax.
The shot routine is very personal. Not everything works for everybody. But one thing is for sure: the shot routine is something you can control on the shooting line. Not something; it’s the only thing you can control when the adrenaline kicks in. We have already discussed why routines are important. So, I encourage you to really take the time and write it down. Your copy of Shooting Notes has a special chapter dedicated to it. Knowing and practising all the steps of your shooting process will help you perform at your best.
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