In shooting (and in most other activities) CONSISTENCY – that is, doing everything in exactly the same way, every time, is one of the most important basic requirements for achieving good results, reliably and consistently. On a wider basis, consistency is also necessary for all our training activities and competition preparation. For being consistent, one needs to develop a systematic approach and develop as ROUTINE. This can be achieved by methodically forcing ourselves to do all the things necessary before and during competition and – naturally – in training in exactly the same way, time after time after time, until all procedures and actions become a natural, reflex action. By following this routine every time we shoot, it helps to create the best conditions possible for good performance, and assures that we do not neglect – or forget – any of the important things we need for doing our best.
The routine should include things we do:
the day before the competition
on the day, before leaving for the range
on the range, before we shoot
during the competition (or training)
and yes, even after the competition...
A. The day before the competition
Preparation of all equipment
Check the functioning of your guns (They should have been cleaned before the last training session and NOT immediately before the match.)
Check sights for correct adjustments, condition, tightness, etc.
Check that you have the right ammunition, (clean them, check for split necks or faulty primer seating of handloads, and “chamber” ammo if necessary - doing this can save you a lot of malfunctions in the rapid fire event)
Assure that you have enough ammo packed, even for the finals
Pack cleaning gear and tools, the right size allen keys, screw drivers, rods, brushes, gun oil and cleaning material.
Sight smoke or spray, matches
Sporting scope & stand
Favourite shooting clothes & shoes
Licences for guns
Squadding cards, entry papers and documents, etc. (starting numbers)
Adequate supply of liquids for constant fluid replenishment. (best is a mixture of water & fruit juice – approx. 50/50)
Insect repellent, hat, sun cream, etc.
Take care of what you eat, how much and when
When do you go to bed (after a long walk to settle dinner and nerves and assure a good night’s sleep)
Setting alarm clock for waking up at least 3 hours before shooting time.
B. On the day of the competition before leaving for the range.
Have a light nourishing but easy to digest breakfast
Pack car and check again if you have packed GUNS, AMMO, and PAPERWORK
Do your warming up exercises, particularly if this cannot be done on Range
Leave for range in time to arrive at least 45 minutes before shooting time. (The rules specify a minimum of 30 minutes, but - in my opinion – this is cutting things too fine, particularly if we need to check guns and if we are to warm up on the range. At international competitions, all guns should be checked in the days before the competitions, as soon as this is possible. This must NOT be left to the last moment. Also take care that the approval sticker and card is with you at all times!!!
Re-check squadding sheet, make sure everything is as it should be.
C. On the range before we shoot
Warm up in the team room or at any other place designated or suitable for this. Do NOT handle guns anywhere but in the specified areas and only with the approval of the Chief Range Officer or Range Officer. You did not travel all the way to the competition just to be disqualified!
Leave enough time to go into the Range and stay a while behind the shooting bay you will be using. Use this time to observe the shooting conditions (light shadows, wind range officer’s way of performing his duty and giving commands, etc.) You do not need any “surprises” at this stage.
Be ready to take your position on the firing lines as soon as it is allowed and set up your gear in the way you like it, the same way every time. Position your spotting scope, ammunition, etc. Smoke your sights, check again that the rear sight is not in between clicks, screws are tight, etc.
Avoid talking to other. Start thinking of how it feels to fire a good shot; replay it in your memory and ENJOY the feeling of being there, after all, this is why you started shooting as a sport, and this is what you like and want to do!
Learn to do everything in the same time sequence, same manner, same speed, so that you can do it without effort, comfortably, without fear of forgetting anything. In other words, automate everything you do as much as possible.
D. During the competition
picking up your pistol or rifle,
placing the target in the carrier,
taking a couple of breaths,
lifting the gun above the target, (or in some events lifting into the aiming area)
picking up and start focusing on the front sight,
lowering the gun into the aiming area,
holding your breath,
starting positive, even,
straight to the rear pressure on the trigger while maintaining proper sight alignment,
bringing the target back or checking in the scope,
taking a few deep breath whilst changing the target (air gun),
reloading and cocking the gun while visualising the next shot, etc.
Just as important – or even more so – is what you do between shots and between the series. Even what you are thinking of in these times, should become a part of your normal routine. The end result will be automatic reflexes working for you and getting good results by being able to “fly on autopilot”
E. After the competition
Review your competition – what worked well; what aspects could you improve. Consider all the parts of your performance – hold; sighting; trigger release; concentration, etc.
Record your thoughts in your diary
Record in your diary what you need to work on in your training, and what you want to focus on in your next competition.
Developing a good reliable, routine system of doing things, is a self management skill, and as all skills, it can be learned and must be practised. Believe me it is well worth the trouble...