The Rogers Report: Randi Rogers shares ways to beat stress and tedium associated with shooting competitions.
One of the reasons that I love shooting is the rush that you get. You step up to the line, load and make ready, and before you know it, the timer buzzes, and you are off and running — shooting the targets as fast as you can!
While the adrenaline pump is awesome, one drawback from shooting a major match is that you spend 8- to 10-hours on the range walking around, pasting targets and sometimes even waiting with weather delays, for roughly 150 seconds of fun. When you are on the range that long without actually shooting, it can be very challenging to stay focused on hitting your targets, staying aggressive in your movement and remaining focused on your stage-shooting plan.
Below are 5 ways that I have found to stay focused during a match.
1. Have fun!
If you try to stay super serious and only think about the match, you will put yourself under a lot of stress and it may be difficult to maintain strong mental focus. Talking and joking a little bit can help you stay relaxed all day. However, when I am 3 away in the shooting line up, I usually take a few quiet minutes to really walk through the stage mentally, so I can be ready.
2. Feed your brain
As a junior shooter, I had a breakthrough that, if I didn’t eat regularly, I would burn out and shoot worse as the day went on. With your brain working that hard, you need to make sure to keep it fed and watered. Bring plenty of snacks and water, especially if you think it is going to be a long day.
3. Rest up
A long day of shooting can be hard on the body, as well as the mind. Standing on your feet, walking back and forth, pasting targets and carrying ammo can wear you out. If your body starts to get tired, your focus can wane; don’t forget to take some breaks throughout the day. I always travel with a chair, so that when other shooters are shooting, I can take a break.
4. Wear sunscreen
This is a trick that I learned from one of my very dearest friends, Jim-O. I met Jim at my very first “big” match that happened to be Steel Challenge. I stood on the practice range, all alone and totally lost. Thankfully, he took me under his wing. One of the things he told me is that you should always wear sunscreen, because it will make you less tired. I didn’t really believe it at first, but I have tried it and it is absolutely true!
5. Stay positive!
It is never fun to wait. It is even worse if you are waiting in the rain, the cold or for a broken target or prop to be fixed. One thing I absolutely know is that being upset about it is not going to fix anything. They say that smiling only uses 2 muscles and frowning uses 40-something. I don’t know if that is true, but it feels like it takes a lot more work to be upset than it does to be happy. I know that when I am shooting, I enjoy being outside and not in the office. After all, I am around fun people and I am participating in a sport that I love. Even the worst day of shooting is better than working, so why complain? For me, staying positive helps me stay relaxed and keep my focus!
Everyone is different, and what helps me keep my focus may not work as well for you, but if you want to do your best, it is important to find a way to maintain your mental strength. Just like you practice your trigger control and stay physically healthy, you need to keep your brain in tip-top shape.