As a beginning competitive shooter, one unexpected element of playing the game is stress. Growing up I never really participated in sports, so I never learned how to deal with the stress of the adrenaline rush when it’s suddenly your turn to do something. Nerves, adrenaline, stress…It all takes coping skills. I had to learn how to handle it all and not psych myself out and get out of my own head. I have not yet mastered it, but I am getting better.
To calm myself down before I shoot, I do a few things.
- I make a plan. Whether I am shooting steel or and IDPA stage, I always look the stage over and see what other techniques people are using for the stage. Then I make a plan. For example. I will try to find the fastest way to shoot a steel stage so I have minimal transition time. So maybe shooting it backwards (the stage run, not turning around and shooting over your shoulder. That’s just silly) (as long as you are allowed to) is the fastest way.
- I rehearse the plan over and over in my head to make sure I understand it. That way it’s ingrained in my brain and I can hopefully recall it when I need it.
- I take a few deep breaths and shake my hands out to relax and calm myself.
- When it’s my turn to shoot, I step into the shooters box and take a couple of deep breaths. After being given the “Load and Make ready” command, I take another deep breath and shake my hands out again.
- As soon as the buzzer goes off, I promptly forget my plan, Panic, and then try to remember the order of the targets and shoot as fast and as accurate as I can.
Yeah I was so close. 🙂 But seriously. Once I am in the zone and am concentrating, I usually remember what I am supposed to do and just do it. But it is stressful. But also so very fun. Next year, I promise I won’t panic 🙂