The shooting range has 9 points; definitely not enough to accommodate all the competitors at one time. Those not shooting in the first relay shuffle into an adjoining room. No one wants to watch the first group; it might affect their own performance. Competitive shooting is a mental game and you have to keep yourself “in the zone” just like any other sport. I know, I used to competitively shoot for 8 years. But how do you condition yourself to mentally be ready for anything?
You have to know yourself well. For instance, knowing your mental and physical stressors plays a key roll. For example, like many other shooters, I know I cannot watch others on the shooting line before it’s my turn. If my teammates aren’t shooting their best, I feel the anxiety to make up for the points they’ve missed. Keeping myself out of my own head wards off anxiety and nervousness. If nervous, my heart rate increases and mussels tense. This is a nightmare since I can see my rifle bounce with every heartbeat making it harder to call where my shot is going to go. Since there is downtime, it is not uncommon to find most of us seeking comfort in the reruns of “happy tree” painter Bob Ross. It is a relaxing escape that distracts from the stress of competition. Everyone has their own ritual to keep from mentally destroying themselves. Get to know your triggers and practice suppressing those things that can hinder your performance.
Knowing your physical capabilities helps with the mental control. We all have to perform and provide results everyday and most of the time we need to do so in suboptimal conditions. In competition we have gear that helps but what happens if you forget a piece when you are traveling? This happens ALL the time. To overcome, we would practice without a piece of gear or with folks heckling you to test your concentration. By knowing we can adapt to these obstacles with preparation, it helps fight off those panic moments when we realize things aren’t perfect.
Like I mentioned earlier, we all have to perform everyday. Get your mind in the right state and avoid those things you know will affect your performance. Don’t let physical obstacles throw off your mental game. When possible, think of potential scenarios where problems can arise and practice solutions that can help you mentally tough it out. Know of a good strategy? Please share below.