I’ve been struggling with keeping my head in the game at matches. I’m sure many of you have felt some or all of the following mental challenges during a match:
Develop a plan (memory)
Committing it to subconscious
Saw someone DQ or hit a no-shoot (fear)
Competing with another shooter (pushing yourself more than your ability OR worrying about the competition)
Getting distracted (fumbling with camera, gear, magazines etc)
Distraction from peanut gallery
Trying to recover from a disastrous previous stage
Trying to recover from a slow stage because you know you can be “faster”.
Feeling high from a fantastic previous stage performance (over confidence)
Running shooters as an RO and not getting enough time to prepare
Giving in to these changes in mental states is not only taxing but will affect your shooting. It’s even worse the larger or more important the match becomes. I told myself that throughout the day, my only job is to :
Think of a plan
Commit to subconscious
Call my shots (ala Steve Anderson).
I must not feel the need to go faster, slower, do better, or anything of that sort. Just performs steps 1-3 on every stage.
I felt that I stayed true to it the whole match. There were times where I catch myself thinking I could have gone faster, could have stayed lower, or tried a different plan. I quickly quelled that “feeling” and moved on.
Also, Throughout the day a buddy of mine who flew in to shoot our local match was competing with me (as any good friend should) and that was an added distraction. I can proudly say that although I enjoyed the competition, I managed to ignore it and not let it affect my match performance.
Now that said, I could have won the match if I did “push” a little bit at the end but that wasn’t what I set out to do. I could have lost the match by a larger margin too if I made more errors.
So my takeaway from this match was that I know how it feels to play this mental game and I will be able to unlock this at every match. (hopefully)
Now I just need to work on the weak stuff and keep pushing my speed during practice/dryfire.
I got to meet Max at the USPSA Open Nationals in Florida and had the pleasure to watch him shoot a few stages. Max is such a friendly person and exudes professionalism. True mark of a champion. He even entertained my fanboyism by taking a selfie with me.
While watching him shoot, I noticed that he uses an interesting movement technique and I thought I’d share it with you. Let me know what you think.
Things happen really fast in the sport of Practical Shooting especially in the USPSA Open Division. Here’s a look into what a fast mike would look like. Everything seems fine at first when you see it in full speed but the nasty buggers reveal themselves when you slow the action down.
As the shooter, I couldn’t tell if was a mike, I called it as a hit and moved on. Wish I had the FLASH’s power.
Here’s a detailed analysis of a technique for moving out-of and in-to a shooting position, most often done using shooting boxes in USPSA. The idea is simple, you want to be moving out of a shooting position as quickly as you can if your position is previously static, the fastest would be to start your move while you’re engaging the last target. Not recommended if the last target is a steel plate or popper. That said, don’t make your last target a steel target.
As you enter a new position, you want to have the gun up and ready and your eyes on target before you get into the position, then fire your first shot as early as legally possible. Usually this means one foot in the shooting box and the other off the ground. Which foot I hear you ask, doesn’t really matter. You’ve learned to walk since you were a toddler, your body will know which is better.
This technique is tricky as it requires shooting while moving and you’d have to make sure your knees are bent and springy so that it’ll absorb the force of starting & stopping to ensure your sights are kept as still as possible.
Now go out and try it out at your next match! It worked well for me.