Saturday, 30 November 2019

Why I do mental training

Readers of my FaceBook page will know that recently I have started putting a lot of attention on mental training. So why am I doing this, wasn't it already part of my training?

To answer the latter part first, yes it was already in my training, however I feel over the last few months something had changed and I felt much less confident about my shooting. Well to say something had changed is possibly understating it, almost all of my standing position has been changed and with all the attention being on the position I found my mind was being left behind.

As well as it being something I felt needed greater attention at the moment, it also is the part of training I can do independently. Unfortunately to actually go shooting I always need someone to assist me and so I am restricted to when someone is available to help. Even dry-firing at home is difficult, finding my standing position independently is almost impossible. On the occasions I have done dry-fire training at home, it was not about the position but rather familiarising myself with the EcoAims sound or doing trigger training, for which I could rest the rifle on a support rest.

Sadly many vision impaired people may know that books in an accessible form can be hard to find. Here are two suggestions of books I have got:

  1. With winning in mind by Lanny Bassham, can be found on Amazon Kindle.
  2. Bullseye Mind by Raymond Prior, you will need to email him regarding getting a PDF copy.
Another route may be to look for mental training apps. Certainly for those new to mental training I think it may be a good option as the interactive nature allows it to gather information about you and then make suggestions on what to focus on next. One such app is the Sport Psych app for Android.

The fact mental training can be done independently makes it even more important for a vision impaired shooter, you can do as much or as little as you feel is required. So if you are a VI shooter and you are not doing mental training, I would encourage you to take a look at it.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Reflection on 2019

With all my international vision impaired competitions done for 2019, it seems like a good point to review how things have gone this year and what I need to focus on next.

This year has had its ups and downs. The year got off to a fairly good start with me shooting at the British Open Airgun Championships where I put in a score better than the previous year's competitions despite having to move firing points within sighting time.

In May I had a change to my plan when there were problems in getting my therapeutic use exemption for one of my medications renewed in time for the International Competition of Hanover. This meant I had to withdraw from that competition and find a solution and to achieve my qualifying score for the World Championships out at the World Cup in Croatia.

This change in competitions meant the training plan needed to adjust as well. I had been going through significant changes to my standing shooting position and some of the time between May and the World Cup was used to keep making these changes. All these changes though started to get to me, with such a focus on only achieving the position and getting that right, I felt my shooting was slowing down. I was feeling detached from how I shoot in competitions and I started to worry about how I would shoot under the pressure of competition and the knowledge of having a time limit. My self image as a competitive shooter had been very badly damaged and whilst people were telling me that my thoughts would not be helping me and I needed to think more positively, I felt I was not getting support in knowing how to actually change the thoughts and the self image.

After the World Cup I was just relieved to have got my qualifying score for the World Championships. The silver medal in the prone was a very nice bonus, after the problems I had in getting started with prone and the significant pain whilst we were finding the correct position, it was nice to have something come from all that effort.

The focus then moved to the World Championships and being ready for that. I knew I needed to get myself back to a point where I would be comfortable and confident shooting in a competition. One suggestion I had from a club member was to trust myself and learn to just shoot through it. This felt like the best advice I was getting on how to get my mind back in the right place, so most of my standing training was spent shooting under competition conditions to reassure me that I could do it.

With prone still being fairly new to me, there was still much work to do on tweaking the position. Things felt like they were though improving. I was possibly starting to build the pressure on myself for the prone, if I could achieve a World Cup silver medal at my first competition, then what was the expectation on me for the World Championships?

At the World Championships I had nerves affecting me. For the prone there was that thought of what the expectation would be of how well I might do. My qualifying round was better than what I had in Croatia, but was still lower than may have been expected based upon my training scores. In the final I had some problems with the sighting and just could not settle after that.

After a disappointing time with the prone, I guess this meant I started putting more pressure on myself for my standing as it was the only chance remaining for me to show what I could do. I feel whilst my self image had somewhat improved since Croatia, it still had not been fully restored to where it had been back in previous years. This all added to my nerves and the sense of pressure to do well. It probably worked against me in the qualifying as I struggled to settle down. The result was well down on what I feel I am capable of and I went into the final in 8th place. The final was really the last chance I would have to show what I was capable of and yes the nerves were going and I could feel my leg shaking. However as the final went on and I realised I was doing reasonable, I started to settle down. The bronze medal was such a relief to win, I felt like I had really worked for it.

So enough of the reflection, it is only useful if I use it to take actions which should lead to improvements. Having had so much trouble with my feeling towards my shooting, this is why I started looking for a book to help with my mental training. The book I have ended up selecting is "With winning in mind". There are some things in that book which deal with how to change the self image and I will try some of those techniques. Another thing which the book mentions is over trying, something I thought I was possibly doing in trying to get the correct position.

Finally the other thing I am going to give a go is the performance journal. I had previously tried a shooting diary, but abandoned it when I found I was not recording useful things and also due to the difficulties I had in making the entries when I had the information fresh in my mind. In "With winning in mind" there is some details on how to structure the performance journal and may be with some of the technological developments since my last attempt I may be able to record the information better. I think it is worth trying it again as the performance journal can support almost all of the other aspects of training and make those more effective.

Experience of creating shooting videos

You may be aware that over the last few weeks I have been creating some videos for IBSA on vision impaired shooting. It has been quite an ex...