How Molly Smith is preparing for the upcoming World Action Pistol Championship.
The stress is on. Your professor, boss or significant other just approached you with a big project … with a tight deadline. Now, what are you to do? Cry – because despite your best efforts to prove your resourcefulness, the task is daunting? Or, maybe procrastinate – a skill high school seniors seem to have become adept at during final weeks of class? Perhaps you’re a high achiever, and you start on the task right away. Or, ideally, this big project is something that you’re actually looking forward to accomplishing.
I won’t lie; my biggest project right now, and the most stressful, is definitely one that I’m looking forward to tackling. It’s incredibly exciting. In December, I learned that I had been selected to represent the USA at the 2014 World Action Pistol Championship (WAPC). This is a huge honor, a huge commitment and a huge amount of excitement has been bubbling up since last year. It would be false, however, if I said I wasn’t stressed at the idea. Looking back, I’ve definitely found ways to combat stress and prepare for the big event. Here are a few of my best strategies.
1. Make your weaknesses strengths
Everyone has a variety of weaknesses, but once a goal is set, the weaknesses can become far more apparent. Perhaps it’s time management, or even upper-body strength. It’s important to remember that when given an opportunity to grow and embark on a new, challenging adventure, you are also given the chance to improve yourself in a manner that could last a long time and encourage growth in other areas of your life. It can be an opportunity to change old patterns or even create a new way of thinking. It’s turning what once was a weakness into a strength.
For the WAPC, I knew what I had to work on my support-hand and prone-position shooting. That has taken priority, and with those as priorities, I’ve also found myself reinforcing the fundamentals of shooting – the precision found in a strong grip and smooth trigger pull. It’s making your weakest point among your strongest, raising yourself to a new level.
2. Stay healthy
I don’t just mean physically!
Really, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep your health in check. Plenty of water, hand sanitizer, avoiding fast food as much as possible and consider what stress might be doing for your well-being. A little bit of pressure is never a bad thing, but if you can give yourself some de-stressing time, performance in any activity is bound to improve. Too much stress is definitely a bad thing, not to mention that too much of it can definitely remove a more pleasant outlook on the task at hand.
Still, physical health is important to happiness, and obviously, in achieving any goal. As a high school student, I’ve definitely noticed the plethora of cookies and pizza slices lying about the world. When I know I’m going to be on the range day-in and day-out, protein becomes a priority, as does working on stamina. (Luckily, there’s cheese on the pizza, and that’s protein, right, Mom?)
3. Set Goals
This might seem obvious at first glance, but I’m not saying to just set a goal to win/complete the project. Rather, set smaller goals that can be achieved in a short amount of time. This has been able to keep me on track – to maintain a group on target, then to increase the distance weekly. A prime example is the Plate Event at the WAPC. I decided a long time ago with my production revolver that I should not solely focus on getting all 48 plates down. Instead, I look at the course as one set of 6 at a time. That way, one mishap is not the end of the world (or match!) for me, but every hit plate feels like the best thing in the world!
4. Remember to laugh
The best way to combat the symptoms of “Too Much on Your Plate” disease, aka “Lot of Work” syndrome, is to destroy the stress – by laughing. Or at least, by smiling! Try to examine life, and its challenges, as something less serious the pressure begins to melt. Face it – we are all goofy humans, (magnify this by 5,000 if you’re under the age of 25) To find grace and gratefulness in the difficulties is something that can propel a person to new heights of discovery and worth.
The WAPC is being held at the Rockcastle Shooting Center in Park City, Kentucky. You can find out more at at the WAPC Facebook page.
California teen shooter Molly Smith shoots for Team Smith & Wesson, and prefers a 627 Smith & Wesson iron-sighted revolver. She attends several matches each year, and loves to write about them at her column, "Millisecond Molly." View all posts by Molly Smith