This month Blog post is written by sponsored shooter, Dalton Kirchhoefer.
Dalton and his dad, Tony practicing at his home club, Quail Run Sports.
You Can Only Find What You Are Looking For
My father has always told me, “You can only find what you are looking for in life, as well as competition”. I’m not sure I grasp the entire meaning but the light is beginning to shine a little brighter at the beginning of the shooting season. Regardless of the shooter’s skill, overcoming the feeling you have after missing a target you know you can hit or one you have hit 25 out of 25 in practice, is probably the greatest challenge a competitor faces during competition. The most important target in a tournament is the one following a miss. Will you be able to wipe the image of the miss from your mind, replacing it with a good picture of you smashing the next target? Or will you choose to play backwards rather than forward and carry the miss with you to the next station? Personally, my greatest challenge is mastering the skill of playing forward rather than playing backwards. If you can’t wipe the memory of the miss from your mind and replace it with a smashed target, you end up looking and waiting for the miss to come and just as my dad preaches “You always find what you are looking for”.
I’m starting to learn that the mental side of shooting is as important, if not more important, than the mechanics. Without good shooting mechanics, consistency is hard to find; without a strong mental, game consistency is impossible to find. Just as shooters have a pre-shot routine, you need to have a pre-shot mental routine. Personally, when I am shooting my best, I am staring down the targets using my hand as a guide and envisioning dusting the target well before I ever step into the stand. The frustrating part is how quickly the mental routine disappears when I’m not shooting my best. I know I am not alone in this and every shooter, from the beginner to the Hall of Famer, has struggled similarly. While struggling with this very concept during a recent competition, a question came to mind….How often do I practice the mental side of my game during practice? The short answer is, not very much. The challenge with practice is, if you miss, there is always another target waiting to change the outcome. During competitions, you don’t get a do-over. If you haven’t mastered something in practice you will never be able to master it in competition. With this in mind, one of my goals this year is going to be focusing on improving the mental side of my game. I will work to incorporate it in practice and develop a mental pre-shot routine that is every bit as consistent as my physical pre-shot routine. Most importantly, maybe taking a little of my dad’s advice, which isn’t always easy for a teenager; making sure I am looking for the right things as I am beginning to understand that “I can only find what I am looking for”.