COVID-19 and the Mental Game
While my wife and I have been staying home and away from people that may have COVID-19 and be contagious, we’ve fortunately been able to keep in touch with friends and family electronically. We’re able to deal with this self-imposed social distancing better than some of our friends because we enjoy each other’s company, and we have a large enough area where we can do many things. My wife has her arts room, and I have my shop. We also have our Labrador retrievers that I spend time with. They love swimming in our pond.
The hint I have is for those skeet shooters who are in a similar quarantine situation but may not have the distractions I have. Those of you who want to keep your competitive edge in skeet shooting can work on the mental aspects of the game.
The mental part of our game is arguably the most important part of skeet shooting. The physical aspect is important, too, but it is much easier to learn and to master than the mental part. We have to keep our focus on what we’re doing at the specific time we’re doing it; we can’t think about how we miss a certain target or how we just hit a target that has always been our nemesis. We have to concentrate on the target we’re about to shoot, and only that target.
During the period of time when most of us are unable, for one reason or another, to be physically practicing our sport, we can work on our mental game. We can visualize each move we would make and see the targets breaking in our mind. Visualization is a tool used by athletes in most sports who want to gain and keep skills they’ve already developed or are in the process of developing.
I try to visualize getting on the station, putting my feet where I want them, mounting my shotgun properly at my hold point for the shot, looking at my “look point,” and telling myself, look at and see the target. I then see the target turn to dust as I execute the shot.
I continue this exercise until I’ve gone through at least one round, sometimes several rounds. I have two other positive pre-shot thoughts that I’ll also use: I tell myself, “It’s like me to hit this target,” and also, when shooting doubles, “one target at a time.”
During this stressful period for mankind, practice mentally what you can’t do physically.
Stay healthy and Stay safe,
Barry Hartmann is an NSSA Master Level and NRA Certified shotgun instructor who teaches American skeet and wingshooting. You can contact Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-803-2393.