What technique, procedure or exercise would you recommend so as to not to lose focus throughout the competition?
Peak performance in competition requires physical, visual and mental endurance. We can see our performance decline toward the end of a competition if our endurance in these areas wanes. These three areas are not mutually exclusive, either. Physical fatigue is usually the precursor of visual and mental fatigue. Depending on the size of a competition, 100 targets can take anywhere from an hour and a half at a local registered shoot to four hours at a regional or national competition, with multiple events shot on a single day. While riding in a golf cart around a sporting clays course isn’t a big strain physically, lifting and loading an eight or nine-pound shotgun 50 to 100 times or more in the span of a morning or afternoon may be if you haven’t trained for it.
With respect to visual endurance, we use our eyes on the sporting clays course in a manner significantly different than we do in our daily lives: one hundred iterations of acquiring a target with the peripheral vision, then fixing on it with acute visual focus. Then there is the mental aspect of staying focused throughout a competition round. The conscious mind tends to wander, allowing the introduction of certain thoughts which, at best, pose a distraction, and worse, can introduce negative thoughts.
The solution: “Hanging tough” for an entire 100-bird course takes practice and training. For improving your ability to compete and win, there is no substitute for shooting and competing as much as time and money will allow. Upper body and cardio conditioning are also important to ward off fatigue, as are eye exercises with Marsden balls to strengthen the eye muscles. Lastly, solid and practiced pre-shot and post-shot routines are essential to performing at the peak of your ability on the day of competition. While this may sound like a lot of work, if you want the endurance to win, you must incorporate a conditioning regimen and a solid pre/post-shot routine.