Ask Bob: Perfecting practice in the shooting sports – Quality vs Quantity

I recently received an email from Tom, a trap shooter, with the following question:
Tom asks: During handicap I dropped 7 targets out of 50!  I had not dropped that many targets during any of my practice rounds.  I was devastated! Angry, frustrated and frankly confused.  I had been practicing well, lots of targets in the previous ten days, maybe 700 targets in total. Where was my head?
In the video below, I’ve broken down my answer to Tom’s question into two areas:
1) Practicing in the Zone, and,
2) Practicing specific drills and shots.

Here is the written version of my answer to Tom.

Bob responds: Great question Tom.   A lot of things could have happened to throw you off your game, from the shooters you were shooting with to a letdown in energy from what you had, or didn’t have, for breakfast or lunch–or simply exhaustion from the heat. I have a checklist process that usually (but not always) can come up with answer.   I’ll start with what “may” have been a contributor–practice.

Ensure that you are practicing in the Zone.  More targets in practice may not be better. I had one client increase his practice targets by about 200 each Saturday just because he had access to a range that day (and drove a long way to get there).  And his competition scores went down!   When he described how he practiced, it was clear he was doing quantity over quality.  So in practice you might do two things:  Wire up your Zone with the kind of adrenaline you might expect in a bar brawl (really!).  And then step into the post with that kind of adrenaline, and do it for every practice post.  Most people confuse calm as being adrenaline-free.  Rather, calm should be like a boat hitting its plane where adrenaline is wired to win (but consistent.)  With this type of quality practice, you can probably cut back on the number of targets you shoot and shoot quality over quantity.

Second, see if you can practice specific drills and shots on specific posts.  For most trap and skeet shooters, this is the hardest thing to do, as typically practice is done in groups and usually with rounds.  (It is a social thing.) I have a skeet shooter who has improved his game in three years to the point that he has now drawn a crowd every time he practices as they want to see what he has done different.  They won’t join him in practice because they want to practice shooting rounds, but they’ll watch and look for some silver bullet.  Aside from learning the Zone and being in it all the time, he practices the weaknesses in his game in practice (specific stations) and, as a result, his whole game improves.

Try practicing like this and see the difference it makes in competition.

And please give me your feedback!

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Ask Bob: How to build Zone concentration in the shooting sports

I frequently get questions from readers of my book, blog and monthly articles in Trap & Field and other magazines. Shooters are stymied by some component of their game and turn to me, aka ASK BOB, the “Ann Landers” of the shooting sports.
This month I received a question from Frank:
I have a lot of concentration problems but I feel like I may have changed my mount in the last week or so and I can’t seem to get back to where I was.  What should I do?
In the video below, I’ve broken down the answer into two areas:
1) How to prevent concentration losses generally, and,
2) The need to get new techniques working subconsciously before you step up to compete.

I’ve also provided this training tip in written format below:

Stopping Zone drift 

The solution may be twofold. First concentration problems may or may not be related to your new mount.  Sometimes shooters have what I call Zone drift where they lose the Zone incrementally from post to post, station to station. A good way to cure this is to visualize yourself smoking the target before you step into the post or station, every time. It will take about two seconds. Make sure you supercharge the visualization with the good feel of adrenaline as adrenaline is an alertness booster.

Stop thinking and get subconscious

Second, the lack of concentration may be caused by your new gun mount, as any new technique requires thinking.  And thinking leads to a struggle with focus as concentrating on the new technique takes you away from concentrating on the target.  All of your technique needs to be routine and subconsciously driven.  The solution here is to practice your new gun mount repeatedly at home and on the range until it feels smooth and non-thinking. You can have a friend or coach watch and give you feedback just to be sure. Once it feels fantastic and totally routine, without any thinking, you can take it into a competition and test it out.

So, Frank, apply a quick visualization technique as one solution to building concentration and ensure all new techniques are well-practiced before you take them to a competition. Both should do the trick to turn your game around.

Do you have  a high performance training question for Bob to help you in your shooting sport?

Please fill out the contact form below to have an opportunity to have Bob answer your question.

Why do we do well in practice but panic in competition?

Bob Palmer answers a trap shooter’s question about why we can shoot so well in practice but then panic and shoot poorly in competition.

Bob Palmer, SportExcel

Click here to find out more about our online training seminar to kickstart your training:

Own the Zone Series: Seminar One – ‘It starts with the Zone’

Wed., January 25, 2012  from 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. EST

* only $ 45.00 CAD/per person + applicable tax