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This may get a little long winded, but this is what helps/works for me. The mental game for me starts before I have to shoot that day. First, I want to make sure my gear is working and the best I can afford. As in shooting small groups constantly. Don’t get caught up in getting super low S.D.s. Let the target tell you what works. If I get S.D.s of 15 and less and it shoots small groups constantly, you found your load. Next is knowledge, you need to be able to apply what you know in shooting and reloading out in the field. Continue to go out and test.
To me, equipment and knowledge have to go up equally.
In the days leading up to a match, I’ll drink more liquids and try to eat a little better. Lol. The day before a match, I’ll go to the range and shoot 3 shots to make sure it’s doing what it should. Now I have no excuses for my gear. That part of the mental game can be put away.
When it comes to match day. I’ll get the come ups for the stages. I don’t always read the stage description, I tend to hear people read them and then they start getting in their own head. Whatever the stage is, is what it is. Everyone has to shoot it. Don’t over think it. I shoot every stage as it’s own match. Sometime every round. When it comes to actually shooting the stage, I’ll listen and read along with the person reading off the description. If I have questions I ask them then. I’ll find the targets, see what the wind is doing, get a game plan of how I’m going to approach this stage. Some stages are straight forward while others are not. I’ll watch how other shooters in front of me are approaching the stage. This is when I’m really watching. The does and don’ts.
When it is my time, I try and keep it simple. Relax, loaded mag, bag, dope on scope, see the target / targets, have wristband for come ups. The last thing I do is wind call. I have a good idea already since I was watching a few previous shooters. Now when shooting, I try and build the most stable position I can. Next I get my N.P.A. (Sometimes this is all happening at the once.) Squeeze the trigger slowly till it goes off and I’m watching trace my impacts. I continue watching the wind conditions. I’m listening to the wind with my ear pro. Trying to run a smooth stage. I’d rather go 8 for 8 then 6 for 10 on a stage. I hear people say they have to tell themself to blink or breath, I encourage you to learn to make this a natural action. If your telling yourself to do that you are missing other things during the shoot.
After the shoot, I make gun safe, get brass, and think about how the stage went. If I shoot well, I try to remember what I all did. If not so good, I’ll ask myself if it was something I did, did I get a bad wind condition, or did I just blow it? Be honest with yourself. After I figure that out, that stage is gone and out my head. There is nothing I can do about it anymore. I just let it go.
This is when trying to make each stage it’s own match helps. At least it does for me. This is an brief overview of what I do before, during, and after a shoot. When it comes down to it, you just need to figure out what works for you. And one of the most important things. Have fun.