Jul 27, 2019 | By: Daniel Schindler, Paragon Master Sporting Clays, Skeet, Trap and Wingshooting Instructor
We get hungry, we eat. No one needs to set the alarm for that; we know when it's time for coffee or a Rueben. We know because our body tells us and our mind directs us to the pancake house or Ribs R Us. All – or almost all living species including we humans – were hard-wired this way shortly after the earth’s first sunrise.
My hunger example has the physical “action” first followed by the mental “reaction” second, in that order. It’s when we reverse that order that can get us in trouble. This is where our thoughts or perceptions begin to guide our physical reactions.
“We can’t win if we’ve already defeated ourselves.”
Though it's been a while, I remember this well. 4 PM Sunday and the guns were in the racks waiting for the shoot-off. With 4 tied for HOA, the crowd was waiting under the large pavilion behind the 5-Stand. One of the 4 was a nationally known Big Dawg. As the crowd grew, I was observing the body language and facial expressions of the 4 as they drew from a hat for the shooting order. The Big Dawg would go last.
The crowd of about 150 eased back a bit to give the shooters some room. The trap machines had all been adjusted so there would be no unfair target presentation familiarity. Everyone watched the 7 show pairs, all true pairs.
Watching those targets, I was a bit surprised by their lack of presentation difficulty. While the presentations weren’t set for a corporate outing by any means, I sensed this shoot-off would probably need a second round. I misjudged that.
Unfortunately, shooter number one had visibly shed all evidence of confidence. What was apparent was his apprehension as he stepped into the box. Out with 9, on simple, straightforward targets and not one more than 35 yards. Shooters 2 and 3 followed in his footsteps, out with 10 and then another 10.
While I cannot prove this, of course, I believe the Big Dawg knew what had just happened. His face showed no determination to win. Instead, yes, he was focused, but his walk-in-the-park expression gave him away. With authority, out with 14. Smiling, he shook hands and moseyed on out of there.
Either the day before or the day after, you can be absolutely sure, the other 3 shooters would have broken all 14 of those targets. But not today. Today – the stakes were high and guess who gets to shoot last. A foregone outcome. Why? I believe it was because of their negative thoughts. Tournament pressure-induced doubts. Personal expectations. Perceptions of crowd expectations. With no casting of any judgment here, using a term from the mental game playbook, they gave their game away.
Studies have shown that we typically work through about 50,000 or more inner thoughts each day. Folks, that’s a lot of thoughts. And, unfortunately, a lot of those thoughts can be negative. It is it any wonder why those negative thoughts affect our shooting?
I am blessed to be a busy Instructor and Coach. On my home course and in competition around the country – I've been able to witness, first hand, people reacting to their shooting – before, during and after.
“Tournament pressure fear is not the problem.
Giving that fear our attention is the problem.”
Understandably, and rightfully so, some seek to improve their game by focusing on equipment changes, set-up steps, shooting methods, target presentation strategies, and the list goes on. While all very worthwhile, little attention is given to preparing for all the mental challenges we’ll face on competition day. Preparation begins outside of the shooting box and long before day 1 of the match. Whether it be personal or business, positive or negative outcomes will be decided by where we place our attention and how well we navigate through life’s daily box of chocolates.
True skill with a shotgun can be easily undone with the right application of dread, self-doubts, or magnified expectations. Said respectfully, that speaks to a lack of preparation. Because all the knowledge and physical talent in the world can be abruptly disabled by a loss of confidence.
“It’s not just about breaking the target…
What we really want is to know that we can.”
Of course, our shooting skills matter greatly. But when those 2 shells go into their respective chambers, our most important shooting tool is located in the 5-inch space between our ears. Train it first – then don’t leave home without it.
Thanks for joining me here. Be safe, and I hope to see you out on the course.
Dan Schindler is one of only 60 worldwide members of the Guild of Shooting Instructors (UK) and is one of the most highly respected Sporting Clays and Wingshooting Instructors in the US. Dan is an NSCA Level III Instructor (since 1995) and founded the Paragon School of Sporting with one goal in mind. Whether it be for the advanced competitor or providing the basics to the entry-level shooter, Paragon provides the simplest, most practical and most effective Instruction, Coaching and Mental Training for the Sporting Clays & Wingshooting enthusiast. Dan Schindler helps shooters alleviate a lot of their frustration by taking the mystery out of breaking targets, calling their own misses and make their own corrections. Lessons are fun, enlightening and our clients learn to shoot better in minutes!
Here's what Michael Bane (Outdoor Channel Shooting Gallery) had to say about Dan Schindler:
We were filming a sporting clays episode of SHOOTING GALLERY, something you guys have been asking me about for years. The big delay was finding an instructor I was comfortable with and felt would fit into the SG model, such as it is. I found Dan Schindler through his book, TO THE TARGET, and his work on mental training and was impressed with his holistic view of the shooting sports. He proved to be every bit as good — and better — than we expected. As always, my goal is take-home value, which I think you guys have come to expect. He is truly a world-class instructor capable of taking complex actions and breaking them down into simple, repeatable pieces...and good heavens, doesn't sport shooting need more of that!
Yes, Dan's books help you take the MYSTERY out of missing targets and help you quickly learn steps to shoot more CONSISTENTLY! Order Dan's 3 books NOW!
Newest Release...Take Your Best Shot (Book I), 3rd Edition isTHE Gold Standard Primer...
and is all about the fundamentals, a requirement for good shooting. This book is used by high school and college shooting teams, recreational and competitive shooters from around the world. Solid, valuable, concise information that has helped thousands of shooters shoot more consistently with higher scores.
To The Target (Book II) Builds on the steps outlined in Book I. Emphasises Gun Management skills when the trap fires, creating a consistent, reliable, trustworthy swing.
Beyond the Target (Book III) is for shooters of all levels, filled with valuable information, clay target truths. Entertaining and a culmination of 3 decades of Dan' life's work as a teacher, competitor, published writer and much more.
A few Facebook comments Dan Schindler's and Dan's Books:
Mark EngenThese three books are a must-read for all clay target shooters. They are clear, concise, logical instructions on how to shoot clay targets and how to improve your scores. Taking a lesson from Dan would be very advantageous & help hasten the learning process. He has been my instructor for 15 years. With each lesson I always come away amazed how much I have learned & how my scores improve. He also emphasizes how important it is to practice regularly & stay with his advice & recommendations to really learn new skills to improve your scores. He has helped me tremendously & I highly recommend him.
Don N Lisha SanteGot my three-book set. Read Take Your Best Shot (Book I) and can’t put book II down. Can’t wait to apply all I’ve learned tomorrow now that the rains gone.
Steve PowersI got my copy about a month ago. I’ve read it twice, cover to cover & reviewed the sequence of steps multiple times. Good Book.
Jim ButlerI've read my copies twice now and it has absolutely picked up my game. Joined a sporting clays league this spring. Increased my top score by 7. Thought them to be expensive at first, but now find them extremely valuable now. Thank You !!!
David ParksReceived mine yesterday and have one chapter left to read. Can’t wait to get to the range and practice the new techniques I have learned. Now I feel like I have a system to work with instead of shoot and hope.
Bill FibelkornCalled the number on their website, ( leary of ordering through Facebook posts) and Mr. Schlinder himself answered the phone. One of the most pleasant people I have ever talked to about anything. Whenever I get a chance to get down his way, I am going to get in touch with him to shoot. Got my books this weekend, read the first one and it reminded me of the basics. Just started on the second one, going to keep reading them over and over. The best reading you have for shooting clays.