In competitive shooting my goal is to increase my scores from the previous year. At first it was easy—as my rank started out pretty low. Now, however, I have to put more effort into it. The following tips have saved minutes and added precious points to keep me moving up in my ranking.
UNDERSTAND THE COURSE OF FIRE
NRA action pistol is a standard course of fire. Prior to a match, I watch videos online and review the course. 3-gun matches are always different, so I am sure to pay close attention when a range officer explains the stage. Knowing what targets must be engaged with which firearm and from where keeps procedural deductions minimal.
KNOW YOUR GEAR
For a competitor, it is imperative to have the ability to successfully manipulate gear and firearms. Knowing how and where to grab for magazines for reloads reduces fumbling, and saves time. Likewise, knowing my firearms and having automatic motor programs for loading, unloading and clearing malfunctions really helps. Spending time manipulating gear and firearms is just as important as practicing with live fire.
HAVE A PLAN
When shooting 3-gun it’s crucial to have a plan. Walking the stages the day before with pen and paper in hand, I decide how best to engage targets; what order, from where, and with which gun. This includes finding areas that can make my rifle shooting a little easier by using available supports like tables, railings, barricades or terrain. Timing is extremely important. NRA action pistol is only scored by hits, I use every second available to make each shot a well-aimed one. In 3-gun, on the other hand, time is of the essence. I try not to get sucked into a difficult target, rather I engage as many as I can.
MENTAL IMAGERY REHERSAL
Whether it’s right before I shoot, as I’m walking a stage or the night before, I mentally rehearse exactly what I want to happen. Using a holistic approach to imagery, I involve many senses. These include visual (steel falling), kinesthetic (feeling the trigger), and auditory (the sound of the bullet hitting steel). Through research, I found that mental imagery works best when you imagine yourself performing perfectly, you in turn are creating neural patterns in your brain, just as if you had actually performed the action.
Prior to and during shooting I use the combat breathing technique. Through controlled breathing, I get more air into my lungs, which means more oxygen to my body and brain, lowering my heart rate. Combat breathing is from the diaphragm, my stomach expands to make room for the air as I breathe in, and contracts as I breathe out. In for four, hold for four and out for four seconds each.