Mental Skills Philosophy
There is a saying that goes something like this.
Marksmanship is 95% mental, 3% physical, and 2% luck.
Your opinions on this saying? Look at it in terms of your own experience and please do state the conditions as I think the percentages vary according to conditions.
Boy, if you work that theory backwards, I'm manic depressive.
I could buy off on that. Most of the time when I screw up, it's lack of patience. That applies to the shooting end as well as the reloading end. If I get in a hurry reloading or get distracted, my groups suffer. When shooting the same happens, getting impatient for the wind to settle down, or squeezing off a shot without taking the time to position the rifle so it naturally settles on to the target. Or jerking the trigger when things line up trying to force the shot.
All of those are mental errors. When you get into doping for wind there is more skill involved. All that is assuming decent gear. If you have a crappy scope, there is only so much you can do.
Originally Posted by RangerRick
Good to see you back!
What is up with the patience thing? Twinkies and Soda for breakfast as a kid? He, he.
OK -- you said you know it when you get impatient so I am sure you have found a solution. What is your solution?
Good to see you back too! Hey, I put Pepsi and sugar on my Fruit Loops when I was a kid.
Well, the impatience results from trying to cram 20 pounds in a 10 pound bag, schedule wise. If I go to the range with only an hour to shoot I tend to get rushed. Or if I get an unexpected break to go shoot and don't have ammo loaded, I might tend to rush the reloading.
I don't get to shoot as much as I would like, so I tend to jump at the chance when an opportunity presents itself.
The solution is just realizing that your messing up if you try to do that. It's better to take the time to reload properly and skip the range if you are short on time, and maybe reload 2 or 3 times as much. Then when you get a chance to shoot again, you have plenty of ammo, and you can spend the whole time shooting.
When I'm short on time, if I'm not careful, I tend to rush to load gear, rush to unload it at the range, rush downrange to set up targets, etc. By the time I can shoot, I'm hyped up and huffing and puffing. Not optimal.
So it's better to forgo the range time rather than use it badly. You can use that smaller block of time to reload, clean gear, etc. Then set aside a large enough block of time to do it right when you go. Then it becomes an enjoyable activity and you improve your skills rather than leaving the range pissed off because you rushed and shot poorly.
When I began shooting, I knew that I was the weak link in the chain. My lack of knowledge, practice, and efficiency were the issues that caused me problems. There were so many things to remember just to get to the range! That list was difficult to arrange, and make sure that I consistently brought everything with me. It seems simple, but even today I find I repeatedly have to double check! I actually have developed a check list for trips!
I've found that getting all the things together I need takes quite a bit of time, and that if I have limited range time available, I'm better off either selecting only ONE thing to do, or using the time for reloading or some other task, as RangerRick notes.
That said, I've come to believe certain things, most of which have to do with the training I've received:
There are 3 major items that play a part in my shooting, 2 which are uncontrollable at the range, one which I can actually do something about.
1) The rifle and ammunition. Once I arrive at the range, I am stuck with the rifle and ammo I have. (I realize some guys make their own ammo at the range, I can't and don't). This means that I have to prepare them properly ahead of time. The rifle has to be clean, the ammo has to be appropriate. If I have a well built and cleaned rifle, with appropriate ammo, that is the best I can do. The rifle is static, it doesn't change in a range session, short of something loosening up and if I did my prerange checks correctly, that shouldn't happen. Within the constrictions of normal wear or something breaking, nothing will change in a singe range session on the rifle that is significant enough to make a difference in my shooting.
2) Weather conditions. They will be what they are. Sure, I can wait out a gust or two in a competition, but most competitions are time limited to some extent, so I simply have to do my best. I actually enjoy practicing under tough conditions, because it makes less tough conditions much more enjoyable. If I know I've shot well in worse weather, then mentally I am better off.
1) ME-- There are times that I simply cannot get my mind around shooting well. Sometimes its because I forgot to do something, or to bring something, and its distracting. Sometimes its other distractions like being time limited and wanting to accomplish something. Sometimes its because of some physical issue, like an injury, distracting me. (Though the match that I shot absolutely the best in was right after I had been injured fairly significantly in a basketball game. I had a black eye, an injured non shooting shoulder, and bilateral wrist sprains, with both wrists in splints. I could barely pick up my rifle. I had forgotten the bipod I intended to use and had to borrow one. BUT...I felt better on the rifle, more comfortable and relaxed than I ever had. Everything just felt right, and I shot like that, winning the small match, and having high X count. I really was shooting just for fun, because I had brought a friend to the match and he was shooting a match for the first time. I was injured and expected nothing, and thus I suspect I was very relaxed!)
But I have come to realize this... I can shoot better than any rifle made. I know, I'm a beginner, how can I say that? It is because the only variable I can control is me!
NOT because I am a great shooter, but because I can continue to improve. The rifle stays static, or even gets worse with use. I can compensate to some extent for that wear. The rifle itself makes none of its own adjustments. The rifle does nothing on its own, it requires me to make conscious efforts, and to make constant adjustments.
It took a long time for something LR1955 told me at the very first session I ever had with him to actually sink in. I had said that the rifle was capable of more than I was. He replied, "Why do you say that? Its simply not true. You are the one that runs the rifle. Its capabilities are completely based on your abilities." I was very green at the time, (I'm still pretty green in the competitive venue!) and I really didn't completely get it. But over the years I have come to grasp (slowly, I'll admit! I'm a little thick about stuff like this!) what he was trying to get at. I CAN IMPROVE. The rifle can't, short of correcting something broken, and even that requires me.
So this year I have goals when it comes to shooting and I intend on working on them consistently. The main goal is to develop a habit of continual improvement, I can and will become better.
I have subgoals based upon that, and I won't bore everyone with them, but I firmly believe that a systematic approach to improvement is all that will work for me, and those goals are necessary in order to do so.
Last edited by bwaites; 03-20-2011 at 07:40 PM.
I agree that mental is more important than physical, but not to that extreme, and the "luck" is dependant on how precise your weapon/ammo combo is.
I think if flinching and impatience magically disappeared one day, groups would shrink dramatically.
Originally Posted by mtn_shooter
Then how would you rate it? That saying is just a saying.
I think what they are talking about is more that gust of wind you didn't see that tosses your bullet into the middle when you made the wrong wind call to begin with.
Flinching and impatience are things we do consciously. If we do them, we sure can control them. That is part of the mental game as I see it.
So, lets say someone comes up to you and says he is flinching and can't control it. He or she asks for your 'hep'.
What would you do?
Anyone? What would you do and how have you gotten a flinch under control in the past? I bet there are ten guys on the forum who think flinching is a major training issue with them.
Originally Posted by LR1955
I've had my ups and downs with 'flinchitis' and here;s what I learned. One is a fair bit of dry fire practice, the second is practice with a firearm that isn't as brutual on the shoulder or hand, third is practice with reduced loads in the firearm you've been having the trouble with.
Most important of all: Make darn sure you're concentrating on sight alignment (or sight picture if not metallic sights) and trigger squeeze even after the shot breaks!
I see very little physical or luck in that process. I would say that physical starts to become important about the time one realizes that the steadiness of hold and precise sight alignment are aided by better physical conditioning (again, the mental part is dominant). As for luck, yes there are random events beyond our control, but the right mental state enhances our luck!
Is there any real difference between top flight shooting and other champion sports activities? (Other than which ones we like to participate in!!)
I have to agree mental has a lot with shooting. I find if I dry fire at the target and practice breathing and trigger control while doing so it carries over to the actual shooting.
Another thing I have found is that I can psych myself when I am trying to shoot good groups, I might have a good group going and on the last shot I get nervous trying to keep it going and pull the last shot.