A little forethought of a stage goes a long ways toward success in a competitive shooting match.
It’s common with any athletic contest, physical execution gets the commendation. But like anything beyond the level of tiddlywinks, games are won and lost by what happens between the ears. Competitive shooting is no different. Concentration and forethought are as important as speed and accuracy, if not more so. Particularly at the pace pros move and shoot.
Familiar with the mental challenges of shooting competitions — from practical pistol to Three-Gun – pro shooter (and competitor on History Channel’s Top Gun) Maggie Reese is a master at managing a stage. And like the majority of shooting sports in general, her success begins long before the timer beeps and she unholsters her gun. Using a USPA set up as an example, Reese walks through how she approaches a stage before shooting it, giving a step-by-step take on her game plan. In short, it's a process of ensuring there are no surprises so her shooting ability can take over.
In particular, Reese builds a mental map of the positions she needs to take to successfully engage each target, as well as how to efficiently shoot more complex targets — such as a whirligig — to maximize her speed in the stage. Additionally, she takes into account where along the course she’ll need to execute key manipulations of her pistol, such as a reload — a make-or-break element of any shooting competition. If that isn’t enough, there’s also the question of checking gear, making certain it’s in working order and situated correctly so they aren’t stones to trip over en route to a top time.
No question, there are a lot of variables to juggle before the first round flies. Daunting to those new to shooting competitions, even newbies can excel more than they expect. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to think through how they'll shoot before they ever grip their gun.
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