In this installment of “Ask Randi Rogers,” she describes why people fail miserably in the clutch at shooting matches. Randi, in typical Rogers’ form, also gives constructive advice on how to practice to improve match performance. After all, this pro competition champion shooter ought to know.
I shoot great in practice, but when it comes to matches, I shoot terribly. Why is that?
Frustrated in Frankfurt
One of the most difficult problems I have had in my own shooting is this same “practice shooting” and “match shooting” phenomenon. It is hard when you work so hard and do great in practice, but when you come to a match you struggle and don’t perform the way you KNOW that you can. Here are 3 things I have done that help me.
What is your mental strategy in practice vs. matches? For me, I used to have a bad disconnect where when I practiced it was relaxed and fun, but at matches I would be nervous and stressed out. To help with my match performance, I really had to change this. There are 2 ways to make this change. First, give yourself more pressure during practice. You don’t want to go all drill instructor, but if you can make your practice a serious affair where you really are trying to do your best at every drill, this will simulate the same seriousness of a match. The other side of the coin is to make your match environment less serious. I am not saying pull a Three Stooges, but don’t be afraid to smile, laugh and have a friendly conversation with your squad mates. You can still be serious when you are on deck, but you don’t have to be locked down focused all day long.
(Paul Erhardt photo)
Start Strong! This was another way to change my practice to help make it more similar to a match. In practice, many people I know take some time “warming up.” They shoot groups or just generally take some shots to get them going before they start “serious” practice. This is a bad habit to get into because you are never going to be able to go to a match and just “warm up” on the first stage. All the stages count – so, make sure all of your practice counts. Sometimes it is good to start your practice by shooting a whole stage first thing, or to use a timer on your very first shots. This helps to set the tone and make sure you are working hard right from the beginning.
(James Mason photo)
What do you practice versus what do you shoot in a match? You have to make your practice simulate a match. This doesn’t mean only shoot stages, you will have to do drills as well, but don’t just practice the stuff you like or the stuff you are already good at. This is hard sometimes, because I know I don’t want to work on hard stuff; I want to work on the easy stuff! However, if you want to compete well at matches, you have to work on everything: distance targets, swingers, one-handed shooting and movement. If you practice the hard stuff, it doesn’t seem so hard when you see it in a match.
Whether shooting practice or shooting matches, the key to everything is to be safe and have fun! Hopefully, with a couple of small changes, your match scores can be as much fun as the scores you shoot in practice.
Randi Rogers is a shooter from the top of her head down to the tips of her toes. Working as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the holster manufacturing company Comp-Tac, Randi dabbles in hunting, fishing and the great outdoors but at the end of the day she wants to have a gun in her hand. For the last 18 years as a Smith & Wesson and Compt-Tac pro competition shooter, Randi has won over 50 world and national titles in action shooting sports such as Cowboy Action Shooting, IDPA, IPSC, USPSA and 3Gun. Randi fills her days concealed carrying in a Comp-Tac Holster, spending time practicing at the range, writing for different outdoor publications and finding new ways to help other women enjoy the recreation and entertainment of target shooting.
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