“The Shooter’s Mindset Should Be A Positive One”
The 2017 USPSA Utah State Championship marks the first time in my shooting career that I went into a match without any worries, hesitations or doubt in my abilities. Up until this point, the anxiety I felt leading up to a match kept me awake at night and made me physically ill. It wasn’t about winning, but about being able to perform at my very best. Like a lot of competitive shooters, so much time and money is being invested and we all want to see the hard work and personal sacrifices reflect in our performance.
So, what changed? Well, unlike other matches, I started my preparation a lot further out than normal. This gave me the time to doubt certain aspects of my game and address them in dry and live fire. This cycle went on for months until I was able to be comfortable with my skill set. Something else that I learned during this process is that some things take time to develop; maybe a day or maybe a lifetime. When I came to terms with that, mistakes in practices became easier to deal with. The realization helped me turn that nervous and anxiety filled moment into positive motivation to strive for perfection.
I separated myself from the negatives. Whether that meant staying off of social media, staying away from negative people and more importantly, changing the way I thought about matches. I really don’t care how I finish in a match just as long as I gave it my all and gave the competition all that I have. Let’s face it, others will have more time and resources at their disposal. Are we paid professionals? The vast majority of us are not and once we can accept that, we can truly enjoy the reasons why we do this. I get it, some people are wired differently. I know people like that and I have seen them fail at accomplishing their goal. It either motivates them to a higher level or they are so devastated, it cripples their self image and they cannot recover from it. We are human and will eventually make mistakes and fall short of our goals. Find a way to deal with those short comings.
So, getting rid of the negatives means nothing but positives, right? Well, not that easy. A simple remark from a fellow shooter or a miss on a target can cause negative thoughts to fill our minds and spread like the plague. Being positive is something we have to decide to be early on. Follow through on that decision and take the necessary steps to staying on that path. A few things I have done to facilitate this is trying to see the positives in everything. I have been trying to approach everything as a learning experience. Really adhering to the “this isn’t the end of the world” mentality. Another thing that has really helped me during a match is writing down notes of mistakes I might have made during a stage. Jotting down a few sentences of what happened, how I felt and what I observed allows me to let that particular mistake go for the remainder of the match. Instead of trying to diagnose the issue then, possibly affecting the rest of my day, I have given myself enough information to address it at a later time during dry or live fire practice. Knowing that I will correct the mistake eventually has allowed me to stay positive and focused throughout the rest of the match.
You are the priority. The shooting sports is a very social one and this aspect draws a lot of people to play our game. For some, this aspect can also detract from performing at our best. I am not suggesting to sit in a corner, ignoring everyone else on the range during the entire match but, to instead take the necessary time for you to mentally and physically prepare as you need it. If that means walking away from your squad to be alone to collect your thoughts, visualize a stage or to simply relax and calm yourself. Do it.
“Hold The Bucket”
A friend and mentor used this phrase to describe how disciplined I should be during a match. He described a match, especially a long one, as being able to “hold the bucket.” No matter how fatigued, how many distractions are present or how “heavy the bucket” gets. Nothing is more important than being composed and staying focused throughout the day. This was the most difficult for me. As we know, there is more down time verses shooting time. “Holding The Bucket” during the down time is the most important. Keep your goal in mind, stay focused and remain calm.
“Negative thoughts lead to negative results. Positive thoughts lead to positive results. Start thinking positive!”
~ Libertas Vel Mors
Facebook and Instagram @LeoDeleon707