Recently, I participated in the 2017 Alabama State Steel Challenge match at the impressive CMP Range in Talladega Alabama. I am pleased to share I shot four different divisions and three of the four divisions were personal bests for me. These times were enough to earn three out of the four top times shot at the match. So, why did this happen? How did it happen? What did I learn or re-learn during this one minute and seven seconds of actual shooting my PCC? Great questions, I have been doing some self-reflection and I want to be able to repeat and improve on this performance.
Confidence: is defined as a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. I have always been confident in my abilities, but sometimes I have stepped up to the Shooter’s box at major matches doubting my ability. Nine times out of ten, if I lack confidence I end up missing or going back to a target and putting an extra shot down range. In my PCC performance, it was not a clean match, but I only had to carry 4 extra shots for the match. The strings where I had extra shots had moments where my confidence faltered. I had a sliver of doubt I was going to be successful and sure enough, I wasn’t. The opposite was also true. I walked up to Five-to-Go and told myself I was going to crush this stage by seeing the target, when the sight hit the target I was going to pull the trigger. I was amazed when I heard the times being called out, I shot my fastest time with any gun of 7.86 seconds. Visualizing what you are going to do and then maintain the same level of concentration of executing when the timer goes off is very important.
Relax: is defined as make or become less tense or anxious. This is an area that I continue to work on and is not natural for me. I care a lot about how I perform both in my professional life as well as in my shooting life. I have talked about this before in a previous post. 9 months ago I struggled at a major match and it was because I was not relaxed. Somehow, I finally realized why my shooting performance was not where it should have been because I was anxious and I started missing. When I missed, I missed some more because I knew I was dropping seconds on every stage. Spending time with friends and having a good time is my goal at a match. Every day I feel grateful I have the freedom and resources to exercise my 2nd Amendment right. When I focus on this, the anxiety subsides.
Fun: Well, it’s just fun! First and foremost anytime you are handling firearms it is very serious business. A bad situation can occur in a split second; proper gun handling is always paramount. Gun Safety is always first! I had the fortunate opportunity to squad with a lot of great friends. We catch up on topics on the range and off. Regardless of what level you compete at you cannot go a match without talking about gear or ammunition. It is important to remember why you love to shoot. Again, it comes down to the people and the competition. When you are relaxed your body moves easier and it is easier to shoot well. If you don’t believe me hold up your trigger hand and make a fist as hard as you can. Now, with a clenched fist, extend your trigger finger and imitate pulling the trigger with your fist still clenched. Do you see how your whole hand is moving while you pull the trigger? Now, perform the same exercise by clenching your fist with only 40% of the pressure you previously had. Notice how your hand and wrist stay in one position? This is a microcosm of your entire body when you shoot when you are tense vs. relaxed.
Training: is the process of learning the skills that you need for a particular job or activity. In practice or local matches you have shoot better than at a major match. Don’t over think it and trust your training. Imagine you are in your basement dry-firing and pulling up on the first target. Remember what you did and your state of mind when you crushed Smoke and Hope at your local match. It is easy to type and can be challenging to do, but just shoot.
There is a lot going on when you step to the line and the buzzer goes off. Remember, be confident, trust your training, stay relaxed, be safe, and have fun!
See you out on the range soon! Steve