This weekend was a turning point in my shooting development. I am now convinced beyond any doubt that I have the technical skills to shoot at the High Master level. What is lacking, and what I need to change, is my mental preparedness to shoot at that level. This post I will illustrate the problems, and in subsequent posts I’ll discuss my progress in training techniques, all coming from the “With Winning in Mind” books and tapes of Lanny Basham.
Readers know that I recently gained insight into my standing off-hand technique by watching video clip of Israeli shooter Sergey Richter. My most recent match started very well. As a reminder, I am using a .308 bolt action rifle with metallic sights. My two sighting shots were both 10s, just a little left (this was a 100 yard reduced match, so the 10-ring is 3.35″ and the X is 1.35″) :
So I adjusted 4 clicks to the right for my record shots, and the first two were on the money:
Now it hits me. For off hand shooting, both my sighters and record shots are super tight. My zero is near perfect. My hold today is super tight and slow. I could shoot a perfect target if this keeps up….
My pulse starts to pick up a bit…but I use some of the relaxation techniques know, and continue shooting, but I sense my hold is widening:
In the scope I wasn’t sure if those shots to the left were 9s or 10s, but they would be good 9s. I’m doing fine! Until:
Ouch! That shot was barely on paper, and counts as a miss. My concentration was so intent on my new trigger technique, that I abandoned my prior mental shot plan which involved an anti-flinching step, as well as dry-firing my fifth shot, and as a result, flinched on the shot. Ok, no biggie, I can recover, and my next four shots found the 9 and 10 ring:
Well that made me feel much better! That’s a target on pace to shoot a 85 or 86, which is still good shooting, and I think to myself, without the miss it would be 95 or 96, which is damn good. So on my final shot what should happen but:
Yep, another off-target miss caused by flinching, because I forgot to dry-fire a couple shots to immunize myself. Lesson learned.
But despite the rough start, I did fairly well in the sitting and rapid-fire prone stages of the match. Then came prone, where I continue to get better and better each outing. The first 17 shots, I did everything mentally right, had no thoughts of score, and shot all 10s and Xs. Then I started to think about the fact that I might be about to shoot my first clean target. I considered not checking the scope any more for the final 3 shots, but decided that would be a “cheap trick” and should just shoot as normal. Shots 18 and 19 disappeared into the 10-shot hole I was building around the X-ring, and this is what I saw in my spotting scope:
Just 1 more shot…1 more and after years of competition I’ll finally have a clean target! And guess what I did:
Arrghhh! Never mind that I haven’t shot an 8 at 100 yards for months. It’s all a blur now, I can’t even explain how it happened.
Anyhow, the point of the pictures above is to demonstrate my need to win the mental game–I’ve got the physical skills. In future posts I’ll talk about what I’m doing to get there. Wish me mazal tov!