50 years ago today, October 15, 1964, Gary Anderson (now CMP Director Emeritus) celebrated his Gold Medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics. Gary earned Olympic Gold for winning the 300m rifle event. A few days later, Gary’s team-mate, Lones Wigger, won a gold medal for the USA in 50m rifle competition.
The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA feature an interview with Olympic smallbore shooter Lones Wigger. This constitutes the third and final part in a series by Jock Elliott on pressure during a match and the methods top shooters use to handle their nerves.Read Part I | Read Part II.
The Fine Art of Not Cracking Under Pressure – Part III
by Lones Wigger, Smallbore Rifle Olympic Medalist
It’s pretty complicated — this subject of dealing with pressure. I’m a precision shooter and have learned to excel in that discipline. You’ve got to learn to shoot the desired scores at home and in training. And once you’re capable of shooting the scores, you may not shoot the same way in the match because of the match pressure. As a result, it takes 3-4 years to learn how to shoot, and another 3-4 years to learn how to win — to deal with the match pressure. It takes several more years to learn how to do it when it counts.
To win, there are several things you have to learn how to do. You have to do it from within. You have to learn how to train just as if you were in a big competition. You work on every shot. You have got to learn to treat it just like a match — to get the maximum value out of every shot. You have got to use the same technique in practice and in training. A lot of shooters have a problem because they change their technique from practice to the match. In competition, you work your ass off for every shot. You have to approach the training the same way.
A second way to combat pressure is to shoot in every competition you can get into so that you become accustomed to it.
Do Everything Possible to Prepare
The third technique is preparation. Before you are going to shoot in a big competition, train hard to do everything you can to raise your scores. So when you’re in the match, you know that you have done everything humanly possible to get ready for the competition. If you have self-doubt, you will not shoot well. You have to have the will to prepare to win.
When Gary Anderson was a kid, he couldn’t afford a gun or ammunition. He had read about the great Soviet shooters. With his single shot rifle, he would get into position, point that gun and dry fi re for hours at a time in the three different positions. He had tremendous desire. He wanted to win and he did whatever he could to get there. When he finally got into competition, he shot fantastic scores from the beginning.
Visualize Winning to Train the Subconscious Mind
A little bit of psychology: You picture in your mind what you want to do. You have to say, OK, I’m going to the Olympics and perform well. Picture yourself shooting a great score and how good it feels. You are training your subconscious mind. Once you get it trained, it takes over. A coach taught me to visualize the outcome, and it worked. Eventually you train your subconscious and it believes you can win. At first I didn’t know about teaching the subconscious to take over, but now I do it all the time. And it certainly worked for me at the 1972 Olympics. What it really takes is training and doing the same thing in training as at a match. If you are “just shooting,” you are wasting your time. READ MORE….
In the archives of On The Mark magazine, DCM Emeritus Gary Anderson, an Olympic Gold medal-winning shooter in his younger years, offers sage advice for competitive shooters.
In his article Ten Lessons I Wished I Had Learned as a Young Shooter, Anderson provides ten important guidelines for everyone involved in competitive shooting. Here are the Ten Lessons, but you should read the full article. Anderson provides detailed explanations of each topic with examples from his shooting career.
LESSON 1 – NATURAL ABILITY WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SHOOTING CHAMPION.
(You also need hard work, training effort and perseverance.)
LESSON 2 – ANGER IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD SHOOTING.
(The key to recovering from a bad shot is to stay cool, no matter what happens.)
LESSON 3 – BAD SHOTS CAN TEACH YOU MORE THAN GOOD SHOTS.
(Today, error analysis is one of the most powerful tools for improving scores.)
LESSON 4 – NEVER GO WITHOUT A SHOT PLAN.
(A shot plan is a detailed breakdown of each of the steps involved in firing a shot.)
LESSON 5 – PRACTICE IN BAD CONDITIONS AS WELL AS GOOD CONDITIONS.
(Most competitions are fired in windy conditions or where there are plenty of distractions.)
LESSON 6 – CHAMPIONS ARE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC PEOPLE.
(Negative shooters expect bad results; positive shooters expect to train hard to change bad results.)
LESSON 7 – IT’S NOT ABOUT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE.
(It’s about how hard you try to win.)
LESSON 8 – YOUR DOG WON’T BITE YOU AFTER SHOOTING A BAD SCORE.
(Hopefully your coach, parents and friends won’t bite you either.)
LESSON 9 – YOUR PRESS CLIPPINGS CAN HURT YOU OR HELP YOU.
(Winning can go to our heads. We start thinking we are so good we don’t have to work hard any more.)
LESSON 10 — YOU NEVER SHOT YOUR BEST SCORE.
(Great champions are always looking for ways to improve.)
About Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999-2009, and is now DCM Emeritus. As a Nebraska farmboy, Gary grew up hunting and shooting. Dreams of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in shooting led Gary to the U.S. Army. In 1959, he joined the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Just two years later, he won his first national championship.
At the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Egypt, Anderson stunned the shooting world by winning four individual titles and setting three new world records. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Gary won the 300m free-rifle Gold Medal, setting a new world record in the process. At the 1966 World Shooting Championships in Germany, Anderson won three additional world titles. At the 1968 Olympics, Gary won a second gold medal in the 300m free-rifle event.
Gary retired from active international competition after the 1969 World Championships in Spain, where he set a 50m, three-position world record. After his “retirement” from international competition, Gary competed in the National High Power Championships, winning the President’s National Trophy in 1973, 1975 and 1976. Over his competitive career, Anderson won two Olympic Gold Medals, seven World Championships, and sixteen National Championships. No American has ever won more major shooting titles.
Gary’s influence on shooting sports extends beyond the United States. Gary has attended eleven Summer Olympic Games, three as a competitor and eight as technical delegate or a jury member. Gary is the first American ever elected as Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), and still serves in that capacity. In 2012, Gary received the International Olympic Committee’s highest honor, the Olympic Order.
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A.P. Lane’s Gold Medal-Winning Colt Revolver
This Colt Officer’s Model revolver, factory-fitted with a skeletonized hammer, belonged to legendary Olympic shooter A. P. Lane, who was known as the “Pistol Wizard”. Lane used this Colt Revolver to win FIVE Olympic Gold Medals — three in 1912 and two in 1920.
A.P. Lane was one of the greatest pistol shooters of his generation. He shot scores that were typically 25-50 points higher than those of his competitors. And he exhibited true Corinthian spirit. At the 1912 Olympics, Lane shared his match ammunition with another competitor who used that ammo to capture the Silver Medal (Lane won the Gold).
This revolver, factory-fitted with a skeletonized hammer, was used by American A.P. Lane in winning five Olympic Gold Medals in the 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games. It’s a .38 caliber, Officer’s Model centerfire revolver from the early 20th century. Olympian A.P. Lane’s Gun can be found in Gallery 13, Firearm Traditions for Today, at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. The Museum exhibit includes a panoply of Lane pieces – his revolver, his five Gold Medals, and the five Olympic certificates that went along with them.
Click Photo to See Full-Size Image
Watch Video History of the A.P. Lane Revolver
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This week’s big story from the ISSF World Cup in Fort Benning involves a lanky Army Reserve Marksman from Montana, Nick Mowrer. The shooting world was shocked when this “pistol guy” (a 50m Free Pistol shooter for the 2012 USA Olympic Team) took a bronze medal in a World Cup rifle competition. Yes, we said “rifle”. And get this — in the process of earning that World Cup bronze medal, Nick racked up enough points to become a triple distinguished marksman (three disciplines).
In the highest level of ISSF competition, it is very unusual for a pistol shooter to even compete in a rifle match. It is unheard-of that a pistol shooter would actually earn a medal. That is like an Olympic 100m spinter also medaling in the Marathon. It just doesn’t happen.
USAR Team shooter Nick Mowrer pulled off this remarkable accomplishment at the 2014 ISSF World Cup at Fort Benning. It’s not known whether a pistol specialist has ever earned a World Cup medal in rifle competition. In fact none of the experts from USA Shooting can recall another shooter who has even competed in both rifle and pistol categories at the same World Cup event. It appears Mowrer made history with his smallbore rifle Bronze medal. Competitive pistol shooters aren’t supposed to be good rifle shooters as well. Mowrer’s bronze-medal-winning performance has changed that view.
Cross-Training Works Well Mowrer Says
Will we see more pistoleros “cross the aisle” and shoot rifle? Only time will tell. But Mowrer believes that “cross-training” with both rifle and pistol has improved his overall marksmanship skills: “I have used prone smallbore (rifle) as cross training for pistol for years now and I am very excited to have the unique opportunity to represent the USA not only in pistol but rifle as well. I shoot multiple events, not only prone, but the reason is just the same; I use other shooting disciplines to be able to compete in more matches and gain more experience that I am able to then use in my pistol shooting! It also keeps shooting fun and exciting.” Read related USAR story.
Mowrer’s medal at Fort Benning has caused a stir among top-level World Cup shooters. The reigning Olympic gold medalist in Women’s 3-P rifle, Jamie Gray, recently posted:
“Today is an amazing day…our Olympic Pistol Shooter Nick Mowrer broke into the medals in Men’s Prone [rifle event]! Couldn’t be more excited for him and obviously his amazing shooting abilities! Nick… [took] a Prone Rifle Bronze, nothing more to say than AWESOME!”
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If you’ve been following the Winter Olympics in Sochi, no doubt you’ve been watching Biathlon events. This combination of Nordic-style skiing and precision shooting is hugely popular in Europe. Biathlon requires great physical fitness levels, superior marksmanship skills, and of course, a very accurate .22 LR rifle.
This video shows biathletes at previous winter Olympics. Note how the straight-pull actions allow competitors to shoot rapidly without breaking their position (at the 1:00″ mark, the shooter takes five shots in ten seconds). Target racks are located 50m from the firing line. The targets, which flip from black to white when hit, are 45mm (1.8″) in diameter for prone, and 115mm (4.5″) in diameter for standing.
Biathlon rifles are sophisticated. The top competitors use rigs with slick, straight-pull actions, integrated magazine carriers, and ergonomic stock designs that work well for both prone and standing positions. The advanced slings use “bungee cords” to allow rapid deployment from on-the-back carry position (while skiing) to the shooting position.
One of the most popular Biathlon rifles is the Anschütz model 1827F Fortner. This features a straight-pull action with a two-stage trigger typically adjusted to 550 grams (19 ounces). The sprint version of the model 1827F weighs just 3.7 kg (8.16 pounds). Remarkably, even the magazines are optimized for “high-speed, low-drag” performance: “Shortened 5-shot magazines were laterally incorporated into the stock to reduce the surface on which the wind can act. Non-slip magazine bottoms make the handling of the loading process easier. An additional magazine release lever on the side makes an even faster exchange of the magazines possible.” (Anschütz brochure).
Original story by Marco Dalla Dea forISSF.
The ISSF has announced a new name and new competition for the ISSF Run & Shoot event. ISSF TARGET SPRINT will now be the official title for this action-filled ISSF “Sport for All” event. And the ISSF is organizing an international Target Sprint Grand Prix in Munich (GER) in May to promote the new sport. ISSF Target Sprint combines athletes’ precision shooting and running abilities. The new event mixes air rifle shooting and middle-distance running. It requires participants to be fast, accurate shooters and to possess outstanding physical fitness. LINK: ISSF-Sports.org.
You Provide the Running Shoes — ISSF Provides the Air Rifles
“A pair of running shoes is all you need. Everything is designed to keep costs down for the athletes. The ISSF will provide targets and single-shot air rifles,” explained ISSF Secretary General Franz Schreiber. “The game is as easy as it looks”, says Schreiber, “Competitors will run on a track or running path and then stop at the air gun range to shoot at falling targets on their assigned firing points. There are no complicated scoring systems — the first athlete to cross the finish line is the winner.”
ISSF President Olegario Vazquez Raña adds: “We are developing ISSF TARGET SPRINT under the rubric of Sport for All, a program now being strongly promoted by the IOC. We were looking for a new event that combines marksmanship and fitness, can be staged outdoors, and is accessible to everybody.”
How Does ISSF TARGET SPRINT Work?
ISSF Target Sprint participants begin each event with a mass start and a fixed distance run. At the end of the first run, normally 600 meters, they stop at a 10-meter air rifle range where they must pick up their rifles and shoot at and hit five knockdown targets from standing position. More than five shots are often required to hit all five targets, but that adds to the shooting time. There are no penalties, but the sooner you finish shooting, the sooner you can start running your next lap. At the end of the second run, participants must shoot another five targets before beginning the third and final running stage. The final rankings are clear and easy to understand. The athlete who completes the three running stages and two shooting stages and who is the first at the finish line is the winner.
ISSF TARGET SPRINT Competition this May at ISSF World Cup in Munich, Germany
The new event will have its official 2013 inauguration during the 2013 ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup Munich, set for 23-30 May at the Hochbrück Olympic Shooting Range. The ISSF TARGET SPRINT competition will be held on the 26th of May.
Participation is open and more than 40 athletes have already registered to compete. World Cup participants who are interested in trying TARGET SPRINT are invited to bring their running shoes and clothing to Munich and give it a try.
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In November, the ISSF Administrative Council approved new ISSF rules calling for major changes in ISSF and Olympic Shooting Sports events. Starting in 2013, all Finalists will start with zero scores and there will be elimination rounds, ending with a final two-shooter duel for the Gold medal (the loser of the duel gets Silver). The new Finals procedure represents the ISSF’s first major format change since the introduction of finals in 1986. The new Finals format will be used in all 2013 ISSF Championships.
This rules were changed to make shooting events more “spectator-friendly”, attract media coverage, and engage a larger fan base. It is hoped that the new format, ending in a duel, is more appealing and easily understandable. The new ISSF rules contain new Finals formats for all Olympic shooting events mandating that ALL finalists start from zero. This means that qualification scores will not be carried into the Final anymore, making the scoring system immediately understandable for spectators. Furthermore, all Finals feature eliminations, and end with duels between the two best athletes to decide the gold and silver medals. The new 2013 Rules have been published on the ISSF website, ISSF-sports.org.
Other Shooting Rule Changes to Be Implemented
The new ISSF Rules also include the separation of sighting and match firing in 10m and 50m rifle and pistol events, a new position order for 50m Rifle 3-Position events, and a provisional test of decimal scoring for 10m Air Rifle and 50m Prone Rifle events. The Final for the 50m 3-P Rifle event will become a true 3-Positions Final, not a one-position Final like it used to be. And new time limits will require shooters to make more rapid position changes in future 3-position rifle Finals. Both 25m Pistol Finals will use hit-miss scoring to encourage more spontaneous spectator reactions.
ISSF Big Shots Praise Finals Format Changes
“The shooting sport has always been a leading sport in the Olympic movement. And with the new finals we made an important step forward to keep that leading position,” said ISSF President, Mr. Olegario Vazquez Raña.
ISSF Sec. Gen’l Franz Schreiber concurred: “It was time to change….The ISSF has always been open to innovation, and we are proving it once again. All sports must adapt to the digital era of technology and media. The time has come to adopt new [formats] which fulfill these objectives.”
Legendary USA Olympic marksman and ISSF Vice-President Gary Anderson observed that the rule changes will present challenges: “We will have to work hard to make this work. But our sport will benefit from this new, appealing format.”
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USA Shooting President and two-time Olympic gold medalist Gary Anderson was awarded the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Order on Thursday. ISSF President Olegario Vazquez Raña presented the Olympic Order to Anderson in Acapulco, Mexico at an ISSF meeting.
The Olympic Order (for distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement), is the IOC’s highest individual award. Worn around the neck like a garland, the IOC Olympic Order features the five Olympic rings framed by olive branches.
“Gary Anderson has devoted his life to sport, both as an athlete and as a sports administrator in the USA and at the International Shooting Sport Federation,” said Raña. “He has placed his knowledge and experience as an elite athlete at the service of sports administration.” Anderson was a member of the USA Shooting Team for 10 years (1959-1969) and earned two Olympic gold medals in Tokyo (1964) and Mexico City (1968). He also claimed seven World Championship medals, two Pan American Games titles, 16 National Championship titles, and six individual World Records in his career.
Anderson served as the Director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) from 1999 to 2009. Anderson’s influence on shooting sports extends well beyond the United States. He has traveled extensively throughout his career in shooting, serving as a genuine ambassador for shooting sports, attending 12 Olympic Games, three as a competitor and nine as technical delegate or a jury member.
Anderson has served USA Shooting as President since 2009. At the international level, he joined the international shooting family in 1978 as member of the ISSF Administrative Council, and is now serving the international federation as Vice President.
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The 2012 Paralympic Games run August 29 – September 9, 2012. The 277 American athletes named to the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team will compete in 19 sports contested throughout the 11 days of competition. Among the events will be target shooting. Profiles of Team USA’s Paralympic atheletes, including pistol shooter Eric Hollen and rifle shooter SFC Josh Olson, are provided in the official 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team Media Guide. This handy guide to the Paralympics can be downloaded for free.
Eric Hollen — Paralympic Pistol Shooter
Hollen, a former U.S. Army Ranger in the 2/75 Ranger Regiment, suffered a life-altering injury on his horse farm in Tennessee. Getting involved in competitive pistol shooting has helped Hollen adjust to life after his injury. Showing great determination, Hollen is now one of the top paralympic pistol shooters in the world. At the IPC World Cup Sydney, he won a Silver Medal in Air Pistol and a Bronze Medal in Free Pistol. Hollen is looking forward to the challenge in London: “This has been 10 years in the making and it’s an awesome opportunity to represent my country. I shoot with the best able-bodied athletes in the world here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and I have the opportunity to now go and win my matches and that’s what I’m setting out to do.” Hollen will compete in the Men’s P1 10-meter Air Pistol event on August 30th. On September 6th, he’ll compete in the 50-meter free Pistol event.
USAMU Rifle Marksman SFC Josh Olson
While on patrol with his unit (101st Airborne Div., 3rd Brigade 1/187) in Iraq in 2003, SFC Josh Olson was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade resulting in the loss of his right leg from the hip down. After spending 18 months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Olson was assigned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Georgia. Olson has been a member of the Paralympic National Team for five years, but this will be the first time Olson competes at the international Paralympic Games. Olson will begin competition on Saturday, September 1 in the 10-meter Air Rifle Prone event followed by the Smallbore (.22 caliber) 50-meter Rifle Prone on Tuesday, September 4. In the video below, you can learn more about Olson’s background and courageous process of rehabilitation.
Watch Video Interview with SFC Josh Olson
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The 2012 Olympic Games kicked off last night in London. And the first gold meal awarded at the 2012 Game went to a shooter — Yi Siling of China. The top-ranked Chinese Air Rifle shooter edged Slywia Bogacka of Poland to win Gold in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event. The South Korean shooting squad also captured its first Gold Medal of the games as Jin Jong-oh won the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event. Jin had won silver in the last Olympics at Beijing, China.
Visit NBCOlympics.com for complete online coverage of the Olympics. On that website, in the upper left-hand corner (next to the London 2012 logo), you’ll find a “Select a Sport” button. That button opens a menu with links to all the different sports. There is a dedicated page for the Shooting Sports. CLICK HERE to visit the Shooting Sports Page at www.nbcolympics.com/shooting/.
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The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a longtime USA Shooting sponsor, has donated $100,000 to help support the USA Shooting Team and shooter development programs. This large donation will help the USA Shooting Team at the London Olympics and help support USA Shooting’s ongoing operations.
In April, the NSSF visited USA Shooting’s Colorado training center and interviewed marquee USA Shooting athletes and coaches. These video interviews, hosted on the NSSF’s YouTube Channel, feature noted Olympians, who provide useful tips on target shooting. In the video below, Olympic shooter and Team USA member Matt Emmons explains how to shoot a rifle from the kneeling position:
NSSF Previously Provided Funds for USA Shooting’s Electronic Targets
The NSSF has been a valuable contributor to USA Shooting for many years now. NSSF funds helped USA Shooting purchase electronic targets for its indoor ranges in Colorado Springs. In addition, the NSSF showcases USA Shooting Programs at the annual SHOT Show. This provides valuable exposure for USA Shooting’s talented shooter-athletes.
“The firearms and ammunition industry takes great pride in being a longtime sponsor of the USA Shooting Team,” said NSSF Managing Director of Business Development Randy Clark. “From its introductory junior programs to its elite athletes who soon will be representing our country in London at the Summer Olympic Games, USA Shooting broadens awareness of the challenging and fun sport of target shooting.”
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