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Old November 23, 2011, 09:52 AM   #1
8MM Mauser
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Mental Training

Ok, since this is training related I'm assuming this is the right forum.
I have recently started shooting a rifle that I have owned a couple years, it's a sporterized Mauser my grandfather assembled for me.

When shooting at "things" like a can, or a bottle, I can easily nail them about 99% of the time; last time I was at the range, I hit 39 out of 40 "objects" at 100 yards. In fact, I even managed to hit a spent shotgun shell, which is a very small target, on my first try at 100 yards.

The problem is that when I have an actual target in front of me, by which I mean, a piece of paper with rings and a bullseye, I can't group for squat. I'll land one in the bullseye and the next seven inches high, the next three inches left...ect. My average group in 100 shots is about 6 inches. This is all at 100 yards BTW.

Now, I think I know why this happens to me, when shooting at an object I tend to shoot instinctively, I've blown away many many cans and small critters with a .22LR in the past after all, and it feels natural; but when I shoot for pure accuracy (on the target), not effect (on an object/animal) I sort of get psyched out right before I take my shot. I can tell; for about 1/2 a second I try and imagine where I will hit and try and control every muscle in my body, I get hyper focused on what my finger is doing...

I feel like I'm over doing it I guess; and what I'm here to ask is for advice on training myself mentally to NOT get psyched out when about to shoot. I already to target acquisition dry fire drills between range sessions, and I try to envision everything... So I'm putting it out there, what do you think my problem is? Has anyone else every had this sort of issue?

Thank for your advice and anecdotes in advance; I always love to hear the wisdom of more experienced shooters.
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Old November 23, 2011, 10:28 AM   #2
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Shooting is 95% mental.

Mental conditioning is the most important fundamental of shooting and has to be an integrated part of marksmanship training if one is to be successful.

There are several books on the subject well worth reading, but the best I've run across is the Army Marksmanship Units, International Rifle Marksmanship Guide put out by the AMU/CMP.

ISU or International Rifle and Pistol Shooting is the most demanding event in shooting sports and this is where Mental Conditioning is stress more then any other aspect of shooting I've seen.

The International Rifle Marksmanship Guide can be had for $6.95 from the CMP Book Store.

https://estore.odcmp.com/store/catal...4=&note5=&max=
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Old November 23, 2011, 10:37 AM   #3
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I can't see a shotgun shell at 100 yards.



.
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Old November 23, 2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Dry fire. Then dry fire some more. Then when shooting at the target dry fire. Then load up a round and fire it. A trigger pull should be muscle memory. You're right, if you think about it too much you're gonna get nervous and screw it up. Practice with a .22 to avoid any kind of flinching.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:09 AM   #5
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You're focusing on the goal, not the process. You're thinking way too much about the one thing that, ironically enough, isn't important - the target. Think of the target as merely a recording device: it records how well you applied the fundamentals. Make it your goal to get a good sight picture and break the trigger without affecting your sight picture. Nothing else matters. The target will take care of itself.

As far as the mental game, check out Lanny Bassham (a Gold Medal rifle shooter himself). Your self image is that you're a guy who "can't group for squat". That's also killing you, since, as Lanny points out, "self-image = performance". You have a very positive self image when it comes to shooting objects, and you do that very well. See the connection?

So, after focusing on the process rather than the goal, your next step should be to stop re-enforcing this negative self image, and replacing it with a better one. Beyond that, look into effective visualization techniques, and implementing a mental checklist before each shot.

There are numerous good books on the subject; in addition to Bassham's, 10-Minute Toughness is highly recommended.
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Old November 23, 2011, 11:55 AM   #6
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I can't see the shell with my bare eyes, but I can see it through my 9X scope, silly.
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Old November 23, 2011, 12:06 PM   #7
8MM Mauser
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The book is purchased! Looking forward to reading it!

MrBorland, I think your are right about the self image and about focusing on the least important thing. When I shoot at a target that I just have to hit to be happy (a can), I do a much better job then when trying to group, because I know what my performance is right away. When trying to make a nice little 1-2" group, I end up focusing on the target and not the rifle. I will definitely check out Lanny Bassham. Thanks very much for the advice all.
Dry firing at an actual paper target is a great idea too, I usually do my dry fire exercises on objects that I place in several different locations. Doing those exercises on what I'm trying to improve at would be a great way to improve at, seems obvious in hindsight.
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Old November 23, 2011, 04:40 PM   #8
Don P
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Quote:
The problem is that when I have an actual target in front of me, by which I mean, a piece of paper with rings and a bullseye, I can't group for squat.
Simple, don't shoot at paper. Its like when you go to the docs office and tell him it hurts when I do this, his reply, don't do that then and it won't hurt
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Old November 23, 2011, 07:00 PM   #9
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An excerpt from Tom Redhead: An Introduction to Mental Training:

http://www.targetshooting.ca/docs/To...alTraining.pdf
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Old November 23, 2011, 07:34 PM   #10
8MM Mauser
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Thanks CTA
I found this particularly interesting:
"If you want to elicit the correct response from your sub-conscious mind and prevent the
production of Adrenalin, always bear in mind you must never think about what you DON'T want because
your sub-conscious will misunderstand what you want and will give you exactly what you are trying to
avoid!"

This looks to be a promising read.
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Old November 28, 2011, 07:30 PM   #11
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But, I am a below average shooter and cant hit squat!
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Old November 28, 2011, 08:08 PM   #12
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I used to have an old lever action Daisy BB gun which would not hit a 2" target @ 20' twice in a row except by pure chance when using the open sights. Funny thing was, I could hit 1" rocks/clods at the same distance 80% or better not using the sights-just shouldering and shooting as I would a shotgun(even taped the sights to show off). Lots of times when I missed, it was either very close or several inches off. Not like I was just hitting around the smaller target, but it was either a hit or way off target.
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Old December 4, 2011, 10:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
But, I am a below average shooter and cant hit squat!
"Opportunity" (in this case marksmanship abilities) " is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work"

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