What the Big Football Game Taught Me About Shooting

For possibly the first time in my life I actually watched the big game on Sunday. I am not normally a big football fan but while it really surprised me how the course of the game affected the players and how the teams reacted.  I can’t claim to know anything about football or psychology but I have seen some of the same things happen to me and fellow competitors on the shooting range.

So, while I was watching the game I made some notes in my Shooter’s Notebook on things that I want to make sure to do and things I want to avoid in the future.

1) Be Prepared for the  Unknown – If you are ever playing on someone else’s home field try to expect the unexpected.
Sometimes shooting in a different place, with different people and different conditions can affect your performance. One range that really plays with my head is the range in Piru, CA, where they held the Steel Challenge. I have shot the Steel Challenge in dozens of places but for some reason when I stepped on the range in California I lost all my mental toughness. This was a hard thing for me to learn to get over, but if you can you need to try to not let the place scare you. Imagine that you are on your own home range with the same colors and vegetation and remind yourself that you can do this!

2) Don’t Let an Early Mistake Cost you Later – If you gave up ground before don’t risk more ground.
Sometimes you have to put it all out there and go big or go home, but in my experience when it comes to shooting you should NEVER try to make up time. Shooting is usually a marathon and not a race,  most shooters stumble somewhere along the way but the goal is to stumble less than your competitors. For instance, it you have a miss on your first stage it is not a good idea to rush the swinger on stage two to “make up time.” If you are having a bad game, I mean match, sometimes all you can do is try to put up a good stage. Don’t try to win a stage, but shoot like you: be smooth, be aggressive when you move, be smooth in your reload and hit your targets. If you can put up a good stage score, even if it isn’t the best stage score, it will give you confidence moving forward.

3) Keep You Thoughts Strong- Don’t let yourself think, “Please, just let this be over.”
If you are having “one of those days” where nothing seems to be going right, this is the time when you need to pull up your bootstraps. If you start thinking about going home you will lose the whole rest of your day and any chance you had at winning. Instead, you have to start being positive. The best way I have learned to do this is don’t think about the last 4 stages of disaster and how you will never recover. Instead, try to focus on what you can do right now. I will hit this target right in front of me.

4) Slow and Steady Wins the Race- Don’t be ashamed of doing a good job and coming out on top.
I have had the pleasure of know a lot of shooters over the year and some of them aren’t that impressive to watch while shooting. They aren’t super fast they don’t run very well but they are steady shooters and more often than not they win. When you are learning how to shoot, remember that shooting is learning to balance a multitude of skills. It doesn’t matter if you are blazingly fast if you can’t hit anything, it doesn’t matter if you shoot clean but are slower than molasses. In order to win you have to do a good job a lot of things and hold it together.

I may not be a big football fan, but I do love seeing great athletes and thinking about how they approach their own challenges. I never turn down a chance to learn, especially when it could win me my own ring, I mean cup, someday. 🙂