August 16th, 2015

Experts Explain the Brain — How it Controls Shooting Skills

Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellum

The NRA’s Shooting Sports USA has a “new and improved” website. The new mobile-friendly format makes it easy to access current articles as well as locate interesting archived stories.

One great recent Shooting Sports USA article, Shooting is 90% Mental, was penned by Chip Lohman (SSUSA’s former Editor). With the help of two very smart Ph.D types, Judy Tant and Mike Keyes, Lohman examines the mental processes involved in the shooting sports. Chip’s co-authors have impressive credentials. Dr. Judy Tant is a Clinical Psychologist and National Bullseye Pistol Champion. Dr. Michael J. Keyes, is a licensed Psychiatrist and former physician for the U.S. Shooting Team.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article in Shooting Sports USA Online Magazine.

If you shoot competitively, this is definitely a “must-read” article. The authors examine how the brain functions under stress, how “visualization” can be used to improved performance, how “brain speed” can be enhanced through proper training, and how the brain stores learned routines into “muscle memory.” And that’s just for starters — the article gives many concrete examples of techniques top shooters have employed to improve their “mental game” and shoot higher scores.

Brain Speed and Trigger Control:
Shooting Sports USA Brain mental game psychology cerebellumResearch: Scientists believe that the newer frontal lobe may not be able to keep up with “deep” brain signals that transmit at nearly 300 mph. This is explained when athletes talk about “letting go,” rather than over-thinking the shot. This conscious signal can take up to 0.3 seconds from recognizing the desired sight picture to moving the trigger finger—too long to capture the opportunity for a perfect shot. However, if the signal is initiated spontaneously in the cerebellum where such procedures are thought to be stored through repetition, the reaction speed is much quicker. Signals are processed by the “deep brain” almost twice as fast as the problem-solving frontal lobes.

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July 9th, 2009

"Mental Game" Explained in Shooting Sports USA Magazine

Shooting Sports USA magazineThe July, 2009 edition of Shooting Sports USA is now available online (for free). Click this link to access the current issue. This should launch a special browser that displays Shooting Sports USA in a familiar page-turning format, just like a print magazine. Of course, using the navigation buttons, you can also flip forward or back.

On pages 16-19 of the July issue, you’ll find an excellent article on the “Mental Game”. For this story, Shooting Sports’ Managing Editor Chip Lohman interviewed seven of America’s top competitive shooters, each of whom offers insights into the psychology of winning.

This “must-read” article leads off with 5-time Olympian Lones Wigger, who explains: “Many inexperienced shooters use different techniques in training than they do during matches…. Their scores are usuallly acceptable during training, but when they shoot under match conditions, they completely change their technique. In a match, they shoot much slower and labor on each shot. As a result, they tire quickly and score much lower than in training. [But] as shooters progress, they learn how to train smart and utilize their training to combat match pressure, which leads to improved performance in competition.”

Shooting Sports USA also interviewed Julie Golob, a past U.S. Army Athlete of the Year. Julie has won 9 world titles and 16 National championships in action shooting. Julie offers this advice: “Ideally, you want to eliminate the distractions that you can control. I make checklists so I don’t forget any important equipment. Good preparation helps set the stage for peak performance. I [also] try to focus on the positive aspects of what I’ve doing. It’s amazing how easy it is to dwell on a bad shot…. I find I am able to recover much more quickly by beiing proactive. I move forward and apply what I know (from my training) will correct the issue. Don’t dwell on the negative. It only increases the odds of performing poorly.”

Other top shooters interviewed for the “Mental Game” story are:

Larry Carter: Four-time National pistol champion Carter holds many records, and has won titles both individually and as a team member shooting both rimfire and centerfire pistols.

Cory Cogdell: Trap-shooter Cogdell won the Bronze Medale at both the 2008 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.

Launi Meili: Winner of 8 gold medals in UIT/ISS air rifle and smallbore disciplines, Launi is the only American woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in smallbore.
Jason Parker: Air rifle and 3-position shooter, Parker is a two-time U.S. Olympian who has earmed 10 medals in national and international competitions.

Brian Zins: Former USMC team member “Gunny” Zins is a nine-time National Pistol Champion who holds 26 national records in conventional pistol competition.

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