Skip to main content

Competition Shooting: Techniques and Advice

COVID-19 has pretty much put a damper on any type of sports competitions right now, including the shooting sports. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep preparing yourself for when the competition season does open up again. There are still many other ways to get ready and construct a comprehensive training program off the field.

I was lucky enough to live in Colorado Springs during my 15 years on the U.S.A. Shooting Team which allowed me to train at the Olympic Training Center. Though I had access to one of the finest shooting ranges in the country, we spent as much time training off the field as we did shooting actual targets on the range.

I’m a big believer in mental training and it’s times like these when you can really work on your mental game. Becoming a champion isn’t easy and we were taught there are four key elements to help you achieve the goal of being a champion; Mental Discipline; Self Control; Dedication and finally Confidence. Each one is equally important and each one requires a little more explanation than I have room for on this blog.

Mental training is not a quick fix or universal remedy to cure ‘all your shooting woes’, but it can put you on the road to success sooner than later. When people think about mental training, they think mediation or breathing exercises. Yes, that’s a part of it, but there’s a bit more to it. If you find that your mind wanders during the round or you’re counting targets or you can’t let go of a missed target, it’s time to start working on your mental game. The mind is as or more important than the actual physical and technical side of the game. When you step on to that field, everyone is fundamentally equal. It’s who’s stronger mentally that will win the day.

Self Control isn’t learned over night, but it is reachable. My coach once told me, “when I look at you shooting, I don’t want to be able to tell if you hit or missed the target or if you’re running a straight. No matter what happens, you need to be in control of your emotions and your performance.” It took me a long time to achieve that, but I finally did and at the Olympic Festival, where I won my first gold medal, I didn’t even know I had won till I shot my last shot and people started cheering.

When you miss a target, are you throwing that empty hull or doing a head shake and shrugging your shoulders, so everyone knows you missed a target? That’s losing control. Now, I know all you hear is you need to get that under control and force yourself to remain calm during those stressful moments. Well, there’s a new approach in sports psychology that suggests the answer is actually in relinquishing control. What???

As the pressure to perform increases, you start to feel more stressed. The key is to acknowledge it, accept it and be mindful of it. You know it’s going to happen, so learn to observe it without judgement and without reaction.

Dedication speaks for itself. I’ve always believed that anyone who chooses to win, can. It’s just a matter of how hard they want to work at it. Dedication doesn’t mean giving up other things so you can shoot. Dedication mean shooting no matter what. I shot in snow, rain, wind, sleet and even hail. I remember seeing the little chunks of ice bouncing off the rib, but I kept shooting. I would wait and welcome bad weather, because if I could shoot in the worst conditions possible, I could shoot and win in any conditions. That’s dedication.

I always tell students there’s a fine line between cocky and confident. Confidence is what will take you to the winners circle. Cocky will bite you in the …… Be confident enough so that you don’t have to be cocky. All the practice, the training, the hard work is what makes you confident. Confident in your own ability and confident knowing you’ve trained and have done what it takes. You’re confident to know you’ll win and if you believe it, so will everyone else.

In world class competition, they say 80% of it is mental, 10% skill and 10% is luck. I never liked those percentages, so changed them and it worked for me. Now all you have to do is find what works for you.

If you’d like to talk a little more about mental training for Competition Shooting, email me at with "Attn: Shari" in the subject line and I’ll be happy to continue the discussion. Good luck and good shooting and stay safe in these crazy times.

by Shari LeGate


Popular posts from this blog

Meet MEC Outdoors New Sponsored Shooter

Hi! I’m Makayla Scott from White Sulphur Springs, WV. I am 16 years old, and I’m an avid sportswoman, clay shooter, and journalist. I am MEC Outdoors newest sponsored shooter! I’m so proud and excited to be a part of this awesome team!  I started shooting shotgun at 12 with my older brother. At the time, I was quiet and introverted, and I had no expectations as to where shooting sports would lead me in the future. Now, not only am I a brave, new person- I have a job writing for Womens Outdoor News, and I am a sponsored shooter for both amazing companies of CZ-USA and MEC Outdoors! I’m really looking forward to the future with MEC! Ever since I was 12, I have been helping my dad set machines for tournaments in exchange for practice rounds, and I worked with many other brands of machines. My first experience with MEC Machines was at my 4-H club when we bought two 300E Sporter machines, and I was amazed at their reliability and dependability. The machines were easy to adju

You Can Only Find What You Are Looking For

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,

The Cycles of Shooting

Shooting is about cycles and there are a variety of cycles; the cycle of practice, the cycle of competition, the cycle of the score and the cycle of trust. All of these cycles are interconnected, but there’s no doubt the cycle we’re all interested in is the cycle to raise the score. What does it take to raise your score? Most would say practice, practice and more practice, but there’s more to it than just practice alone. Competition shooting is all-encompassing. It’s an encompassment of your physical ability, mental mastery, emotional control and trust in your equipment.   When you step up to the line, trust is the key and that trust is two-fold. The first is trust in yourself, in your ability to make the shot and execute it exactly the same way every time. Practice builds that self-trust. The second part is trusting your equipment; trust in your gun and your ammunition. Trusting your gun to move the way you want it to, to complete the entire cycle of executing the shot from w