As I discussed in previous posts, according to Lanny Basham’s Mental Management system, one of the keys to my shooting better in competition is going to be changing my Self Image circle. In order to shoot 96+ standing in competition, I need to inherently believe and expect that is exactly what will happen, because “it’s like me” to to shoot 96+ in competition. Basham sets forth a technique to get there called the Directive Affirmation:
The Directive Affirmation is a paragraph written in the first person present tense that describes a person’s goal, pay-value of the goal, plan to reach a goal and habits and attitudes affecting the goal. It is rehearsed repetitively, causing the Self Image to change.
So following his steps to develop the Directive Affirmation:
Step 1. Define the goal. To always shoot 96% or better in the standing stage at matches. [This is only 2 points higher than my personal best, lower than my bests in practice, and only 1 point higher than my practice average. I think it is realistic and achievable.]
Step 2. Set the time limit. March 31, 2014. [I shoot 2 matches a month, so by that time, I'll have shot 16 matches, assuming none get rained out or other interference. This is plenty of time.]
Step 3. List the personal pay-value of reaching the goal. I have taken my next step toward earning High Master classification. The personal pay-value of earning High Master is:
- the great sense of personal achievement
- inspire my blog readers to pursue shooting sports excellence
Step 4. Outline the plan to achieve the goal.
- Run a Mental Program (more on this in a moment) on each shot.
- Visualize taking 10 perfectly executed shots in the morning when I wake up, and before I go to bed.
- During practice, visualize myself having shot several 10s in a row, and then shooting another unfazed or influenced by the prior shots.
- Keep a written reminder to dryfire every 3rd shot in competition to ensure I am flinch-free and only the muscles in my trigger finger are activated in the shot.
- Read and visualize my Directive Affirmations daily.
Step 5. Write a Directive Affirmation
March 31, 2014. I always shoot at least 96% in the standing phase of competition. I have taken my next step towards earning High Master classification. I always run a Mental Program on each shot in practice and in competition. I visualize taking 10 perfect shots when I wake up and when I go to bed. When I practice, I visualize myself unfazed by the fact I am shooting 10s, because shooting 10s for me standing is as normal and like me as shooting 10s in prone. In competition I dryfire after several shots and my body simply flows with the rifle’s recoil. The muscles in my trigger finger are the only muscles in my entire body that move during a shot. I always shoot at least 96% in the standing phase of competition.
Step 6. Write down the Directive Affirmation in my own handwriting on cards, at least 5, and put them in key locations each day. Every time I encounter a card, I read the Directive Affirmation.
That’s it! As for the Mental Program, that is basically a mini-mental rehearsal for each shot. I have started using this technique but not consistently. Sometimes my mind is just blank, which is OK I think. When I find myself thinking about anything else, I run the Mental Program. It is probably better to run the Mental Program every shot, so I will start keeping track. Basham gives a Mental Program for shooting in his book, so I’ll just use that. Basically, you just visualize yourself and how you feel after making a perfect shot. Then you visualize yourself doing it. Then you focus your attention on what you need to do to shoot and shoot.