In my last column I talked about having a strong and positive mental attitude. There is another time where you need to be positive and that is when your quarry is in front of you and you are going to make the shot. When that moment of truth comes you need to be focused and concentrate on making a good shot. As the saying goes “ Good shooters shoot and know it’s a 10 – the rest shoot and hope it is a 10”.
My training in learning how to be positive came to me when I qualified for the Paralympics Pistol Shooting Team. I was fortunate to go to Korea for the World Championships. This was a first major step in my shooting career. All of the training we had before the match focused on the mental game and not so much on shooting. It was always said that shooting was 90% mental. We had to learn to always be positive in every thing we did. In shooting if we ever made a bad shot we didn’t analyze it we just moved on to the next shot.
Another saying we used is “If you think bad things might happen you will always be right” If you shot 59 bad shots and one good shot , you only talked about the one good shot. You didn’t want to reinforce your subconscience with a negative thought. Here is an example: I was shooting in a Beeman Match in Texas and was rolling along very well. Everything seemed to be clicking and I had not made a bad shot. I had just shot my 52nd shot in a 60 shot match ,when I stopped and thought about the next shot. Hey I am doing well and have not had any “eights” yet. Guess what my next shot was? Yea, that’s right…. an “eight”. You see I put a negative thought in my head and that is what my conscience mind said to do. So by staying focused and concentrate and staying positive, no negative thoughts can come in your head. You cannot have a negative and a positive thought at the same time. By being positive you will have good results!
Some of the big issues to overcome are target panic and buck fever. You can control these conditions with a lot of practice. Don’t keep shooting at a stationary target at a knowing distance. Break up your routine. Set a 3D target up in the woods, walk up on it, guess the distance, pick a spot and shoot. Challenge yourself and set the target at different angles and have some trees or brush in the way and also set some small opening to shoot through. Practicing this way will prepare you for the real world of bow hunting. When that buck steps out in front of you just concentrate on your form, pick a spot and shoot just like you did in practice. You need the automatic response to kick in and that comes from repetition and practice.
There is much more to learn with the art of shooting. There are many books and tapes that will help you learn the technique of shooting. You can also find a shooting instructor and there are even some shooting camps that can help.
Remember that no one can just go out and make the perfect shot all the time. All you can do is be positive and know through repetition, practice and a positive attitude that the confidence to make the shot will be automatic and your reward will be before you!