May 2007 Sporting Clays Tip
by Dan Schindler
All of you who know what self-talk is, raise your hand. That's right, it's that little voice in our head,...carrying on a dialogue with us. More specifically, that voice is you,...speaking to yourself. All too often, that little voice is saying something negative. It's chastising us, maybe even criticizing. While self-talk can be positive and uplifting, many times the dialogue is negative and can be harmful to our performance in the shooting box.
How many times have you been missing targets and heard that voice punishing you? Not only does this kind of self-talk take more targets from you, it keeps you from performing at the level you are capable of.
Here's a great example of where self-talk might sound good,...but isn't. It's your home club championship and you are shooting well. Very well actually. You've passed the half-way mark and are down fewer targets than you've ever been before. You are definitely on your way to the best score you've ever shot in competition. Field 10 is nothing new and you should shoot well here. But, you hear a distant voice, almost a sense, telling you how well you are shooting. And, this sense suggests you be very careful on this station, so you don't miss. Don't want to do that now, do you?
In spite of knowing that you don't want to become careful here, you're suddenly aware of some tension coming into your body. A bit of anxiety. Yikes,...where did this come from? Then, in spite of your best efforts to resist being careful, your swing stutter-steps and you miss behind an easy crossing target. Not once, but twice! Unnerved, you miss 2 more on the next station, and another 1 on the next and so on as your good score trickles away.
Self-talk is pretty much universal among the human race. When it's negative like the example above, it's best not to engage. Engaging the thought or emotion (self-talk) empowers it, making the distraction all the more powerful,...and damaging. Learning to accept these thoughts and allowing them to pass harmlessly might take some training but is definitely a skill worth learning. Engaging distracting thoughts or emotions only makes matters worse. Letting go of negativity keeps your best swing on track and allows you to perform at your highest level. Surrender distractions,...don't engage. As Captain Kirk said of the Borg, "Resistance is futile."
It was a bright, sunny day in early 2006 and my practice session was going exceptionally well. Looking into the sky I was startled to see a very large, black, shadowy mass,...which disappeared when I closed my left eye. I stopped shooting and called my eye doctor, Michael Holmes who said come in now. Immediately...............
Here, we're talking about your Focal Point in your set-up, step 4 after step 1) Break Point, 2) Foot Position, and 3) Muzzle Hold Point.
Focal Point is where you place your eyes to see the target, before you call for the bird. Establishing that location and then looking there ensures you will see the bird without wasting time hunting for it...............