The USPSA Production Nationals was the first Nationals of the 2015 season. I knew I wanted to be at the top of my game when I went. Many people refer to this as “peaking” but how do you really do that? I am sure everyone has their own methods but here are 5 things I did that I believe helped me.
1) Gear Prep
Whenever I go to a big match, making sure my gear is ready to go is a key step. There is nothing worse than spending all the time and money attending a match and have it all go down the drain because your guns break. Before I left I checked the following:
– cleaned guns and replaced parts
– loaded and chronoed ammo
– cleaned and checked holsters and mag pouches
2) Physical Prep
Before I left I wanted to make sure that I was prepared physically for the match. I made and extra effort to spend time outside in the heat and humidity of Houston to prepare for the weather in Barry. I also went on a visit to my eye doctor. I wear contacts when I shoot, so I did my yearly exam to make sure my prescription was completely up to date.
3) Found My Match Speed
I am extremely lucky that I get to train and shoot matches all year. In some ways it is great because I am always working to improve and get lots of chances to see that improvement in matches. However, one thing I struggle with personally is being able to practice at 110% and shooting a match at 90%. One thing I did to prepare was to spend the last two weeks before I left shooting my practice at “match speed”. Obviously I still am trying to be aggressive and find my limits but I am no longer trying to make improvement. I needed to find my match speed not another .10 on the draw.
4) Prepared for Specific Challenges
One of the great things production nationals did was publish the stages before hand. When looking at stage diagrams it is sometimes hard to tell exactly what things look like, and some things inevitably change. But, you can still get a good idea of what challenges you will face. Looking through the stages before, I saw a few things that I knew I could work on before I left: no-shoots on lots of targets, lots of steel shots, standards! Being able to practice these things made a huge difference in the way I shot the match.
5) Mental Prep
The biggest part of preparing for any match for me is working on my mental game. One thing I changed a month before I left was I started getting up earlier, a lot earlier. This was not something I really wanted to do, but I needed more time and I was struggling to find it in the evenings. It made a huge difference to my mental game because I was much less stressed. I was able to get more done at work, at home and in my shooting. My mental game was much stronger because I wasn’t worrying about work, or the laundry and I knew I had put in the practice time to shoot my best.
Every match is different and I have heard hundreds of ways to prepare and be ready. I have tried a lot over the years and every time I find something that works I try to write it down and remember. What preparations have you found work well for you?