Competitive shooters have all experienced that loss of focus at the end of a day-long tournament. In fact, many tournaments are won (or lost) according to which shooters can finish as strong as they started.
The loss in performance at the end of the shooting day can either be physical or mental. In tournaments such as steel challenge or rimfire challenge, there is really very little physical exertion other than painting targets and dragging your gear from stage to stage. Therefore, we can't really blame things on being physically tired. It must be mental.
Preventing being physically tired can be combated by having good physical conditioning and proper diet and hydration before and during the match.
Surprisingly, combating mental exhaustion may actually be easier than combating physical exhaustion. My method is as follows. You don't have to follow these techniques to be successful. Other similar techniques will work. This is what works for me. It may sound crazy, but it does work.
When I start feeling mentally drained, I sit down in a comfortable lawn chair. I keep my head erect and close my eyes. At this point, I begin focusing all of my concentration on all the sounds that are around me. I am on a shooting range with other shooters so of course I hear gunfire and conversations.
Now I concentrate on that shooting. Where is it coming from? I listen to the echoes of the gunfire and how the sound bounces off the berms or buildings and how those echoes sound different. While listening to the conversations, I try to identify the speaker and their location.
Now I start listening for more subtle sounds. The sound of the wind. Birds. Insects. Distant cars. Again, their direction and distance. During all this time, I do not think of the match. Thinking of the match and how I am going to shoot it increases stress and this is a time of total mental relaxation. I do this for about 10 minutes and open my eyes. If you are like me and do this, you will feel completely refreshed. Now it is time to shoot.
What I am doing here is nothing new. People have been using these meditation techniques for hundreds of years. It is simply self-hypnosis. I have done this at crowded, noisy places like state fairs and quiet places such as my home or yard. Both with excellent results.
What are YOUR best tips and techniques for boosting match endurance? We’d love to hear how you maintain your mental and physical focus during an important competition! Share your ideas as a comment below!
Want more of Dwight’s tips and tricks to improve your competitive shooting performance? Be sure to follow him his Facebook page!
Click here to read another post by Dwight, with his top 10 training tips for competitive shooters.