February 26th, 2021

Mental Training for Shooting Sports — Recommended Resources

marksmanship training mental game chip lohman

To win in competitive shooting you need an accurate rifle, excellent ammo, good sights/optics, and good physical fitness. But in addition, there is the “mental game”. You need to be mentally prepared for the match. You should be focused yet relaxed, and be able to deal with stresses from a bad shot or rapid wind change. Experts say you also want to visualize the perfect shot.

One great 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 article.

Recommended Books to Focus Your Mental Game and Improve Your Shooting
Along with the article above, there are a number of good books than can help you improve your mental game and perform better in competition. Here are seven recommended books that can help your mental game and shooting skills. These are available from Creedmoor Sports and Amazon.com.

Mental Game Books at Creedmoor Sports

Sport Psychology and Competition: The Psyche of the Shot
This book is a guide to systematically preparing for shooting matches. It contains 1,000 pictures, 200 exercises, and a 6-week training plan.

The Bullseye Mind
Bullseye Mind is the first mental training book written specifically for sport shooters.

Mental Training in Shooting

Mental Training in Shooting
Mental training in Shooting” is a practical book packed with good, straightforward advice about techniques and mental preparation.

Mental Game and Marksmanship Books on Amazon

Mental Preparation for Shooting Matches

Advice from Emil Praslick
Along with these books we offer some smart advice from Emil Praslick III, former USAMU coach. Considered one of the best wind readers on the planet, Praslick also was known for his ability to help his shooters master the “mental game”. Here is an article from the CMP Archives in which Praslick explains how to focus your mind to achieve greater success.

Emil Praslick

Thinking Your Way to Success
by Emil Praslick
Why does it seem that the same small group of shooters wins the majority of the matches? What is the difference among shooters who are technically equal? Confidence. A confident shooter is free to execute his shots without the fear of failure, i.e. shooting a poor shot.

Negative thoughts (can’t, won’t be able to, etc.) will destroy a skilled performance. The mind’s focus will not be on executing the task, but on projecting fear and self-doubt. Fear is the enemy, confidence is the cure. How does a shooter on the eve of an important match … attain the confidence needed to perform up to his potential? A pre-competition mental plan can assist in acquiring that positive mental state. The plan can be broken down into a few phases.

Build a feeling of preparedness. Developing and executing a plan to organize your equipment and pre-match routine will aid you in feeling prepared on match day.

Avoid negative and stressful thoughts. Focusing on “winning” the match or shooting for a specific score (like making the “cut” or making the President’s 100) can cause undue stress. Good shooters focus on aspects that are within their control: their sight picture, their sight alignment, their position. Each shot should be treated as an individual event.

Train stage-specific tasks during your practice sessions. Instead of shooting matches or practice matches only, include some drills that focus on your problem areas. Training in this manner will assist your level of confidence.

As part of your pre-match routine, imagine yourself shooting perfect shots. Visualize getting into the perfect position, acquiring a perfect sight picture, and perfect trigger control.

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