Shooting competitively has its ups and downs, but in the long run it can help you become a much better shooter. The mental stress that is placed on the shooter, combined with being up against skilled competitors, is hard on the mind. It takes practice to focus through all of that and ensure that you are on track to hit your mark. So let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs and then focus on how to maintain the winning attitude during the entirety of the shoot.
Whether you know it or not, just shooting with people who are better than you is going to make you better. You’re going to pick up on different ways of doing things, and it’s going to help drive you to continuously improve your shot sequences. Different release styles, trying 3 under when you have shot split finger, and different drawing styles will help you explore what works for you. Getting out there and meeting new people is a huge thing that I enjoy with competitive shooting. The relationships you build will help make the tournaments a little less stressful and much more enjoyable because you know more of your competition. Of course the downside of this is not winning. Being competitive is in most of our natures, and winning is fun. But it helps to remember when we surround ourselves with great shooters, they are great for a reason.
On a related note, it can be stressful during tournaments when you make a less than perfect shot, but you need to stay on track. The mental game is tough, shot after shot has to be perfect, and all the hours you have spent tuning and practicing will not mean anything if you cannot keep your head on straight. A bad shot is a killer in the competitive style of shooting and not because of that one bad shot. The rest of the shoot usually follows that bad shot because you are still thinking about it. When you make a bad shot you truly have to evaluate what happened, forget it, and then move on. Everyone makes a bad a shot, but it’s not how bad it was, it’s how you rebound from it. The key is to focus on YOU and only you. Not any of the other shooters or keeping track of who else is shooting or what the scores are. Compete against yourself, during practice or tournaments. You should always strive to beat your last score; in the end, you will always come out on top.
The key to hitting the mark every time is to find out your limit of 100% focused shooting and learn how to expand or increase that time a little bit more every time you practice. Shooting is supposed to be fun, but we all know it’s not that fun when you cannot hit what you’re aiming at. Talk yourself through your shot sequence every shot, and when you feel it’s time to stop…stop. Don’t overdo it because it could be doing more harm than good.