Meditation is focused attention on one thought and or feeling. Shooting like meditation is also focussed attention by the shooter for shooting a ‘10’.
When the sights come into the aiming area, the shooter must focus (to the exclusion of everything else) on achieving follow through of the positive continuous trigger feeling.
This he must do regardless of any distracting thoughts which include the arc of movement, aligned sights or focus.
Just as in meditation, one prepares himself for the process of meditation, by mentally, physically and technically going through the steps which lead to the desired state of mental peace.
The same holds true in shooting. Before we start shooting, we have to prepare ourselves ‘physically’ by doing adequate warming up exercises.
We warm up ‘mentally’, by going through the steps in our technique for shooting a ‘10’ in our mind.
We warm up ‘technically’, by doing dry firing exercises.
The state of bliss achieved in meditation is also achieved during shooting- the ‘ no mind’ stage, where shots are executed from the subconscious, while the conscious mind, stops its chattering thereby stops interfering in the smooth, automatic working of the subconscious mind.
But to reach the stage where the subconscious mind takes over, one has to train the conscious mind to ‘shut up’. This process is explained in great detail in Module No. 5 Mental Skills. Graded exercises in this module, help the student to learn, how to switch off the conscious mind and slide into shooting from the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind, also has to be trained to produce the performance required for shooting ‘10s’ continuously, one after the other in rows. This is also explained in Mod. No. 5 Mental Skills.
From the above, the reader will surmise that shooting like meditation, requires proper training and guidance. You can be anywhere on this planet. If you have an internet connection and a laptop or smartphone you can also avail of these guidelines and correct training methods.
Surprisingly, when most people want to take up some form of meditation, they automatically look for a ‘guru’ or training programmes online. When it comes to shooting however, 90 % of the people shrink away from online training.
Wake up! The world is moving onto online training, for almost all the skills required for getting ahead in life.
Then why are you shying away from online training available on this website?
The ONLY website in the world, offering online interactive one on one coaching in air pistol shooting.
Can you learn to get into the highest level of meditation without a guru? Yes or No? If your answer is No, then you should reflect upon online coaching for shooting very seriously.
It is a lot cheaper, convenient and your coach is available to you 24 hours X 365 days for you for your entire lifetime!
With a 1.25 billion population and more than 300,000 shooters in India (rifle & pistol)
India in the recent years has become a powerhouse in shooting, replacing China as the No.1 country in shooting sports.
Each year, we see new talent emerging and replacing the previous lot within a very short period of 2 to 3 years.
How has this come about?
One of the primary reason for this surge in shooting sports and high performance scores on the world stage is ‘Self-belief’.
Today in India, youngsters in the age group of 15 to 20 years, BELIEVE that they can shoot far better than their seniors and THEY ARE DOING IT.
This ‘self-belief’ can be developed within oneself at any age, however, it is easier to develop at an early age.
This is due to the fact that the minds of youngsters are still malleable, like fresh clay in the hands of a potter building pots. They are more OPEN to ideas and dreams!
As the years go by, the clay becomes less malleable due to hardening of self limiting beliefs. That is why we see many senior World No. 1 shooters, both ladies and gents being overtaken by the younger crowd.
It is not that the seniors are incapable of putting in hard work, they do and in some cases put in more effort than the junior lot.
What trips them up is that somewhere within themselves, the motivation level reduces.
And most importantly they are less open to new ideas for raising their motivation levels, less open to try out new techniques, Hence the motivation, and drive for winning more medals erodes over time hence they are bypassed.
In Module No. 6 – The Mental Shot Program, techniques for developing a strong self image and how to motivate oneself are discussed.
As a matter of fact, the techniques provided in the module can be used by anybody for excelling in any area of interest besides sports.
All that is required is an OPEN and POSITIVE mind.
In my Basic 10 meter air pistol shooting videos, I had discussed ‘Focus’ and how it is important to develop the ‘focus lock’.
What is ‘Focus Lock’?
When the sights come into the aiming area, you must develop a sharp, well aligned foresight with the focus remaining steady and sharp till follow through is completed.
A correct focus lock is achieved when your conscious mind which is in the habit of constant chattering (self-talk) shuts up. You are just focussed on the foresight while your conscious mind locks down, no chatter, no noise, no self-talk, no thoughts…
Just a blank silence in which the mind is concentrating completely on the foresight. Yet, you are aware of the smooth trigger operation without any background thoughts. This state is also called as the ‘stithi’ in yoga.
When you achieve this state, your subconscious and unconscious mind delivers an excellent and perfect follow through, resulting in an inner ‘10’.
To develop this mental focus lock, in my Modules No. 3 Basic Training and Module No. 4 Advanced Training, I have discussed some fantastic yogic techniques which will help you to achieve optical as well as mental focus lock, thereby improving your follow through which will deliver more number of ‘10’s.
The Yogic techniques are based on Pranayama, ( Yogic breathing technique), Then the use of ‘Tratak’ which is an advanced yogic technique are explained in great detail.
And finally, we use the CUE card which is a simple 10 M air pistol card with the sight alignment picture in the aiming area of the card.
How to develop the optical and mental focus lock is shown in Mod. 3 and 4.
I will give you an example of how it will help you. Presently I am not shooting for the last two to three months, however, I recently bought a pistol for my wife which has an extra small grip.
Testing out the pistol was difficult for me because I use a Medium grip while holding the extra small grip, my last two fingers were outside the palm rest. Thus I was holding the pistol grip with my middle two fingers only.
Even with this improper gripping, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my sights remained dead steady and perfectly aligned in the aiming area.
How did I achieve this?
Years of training on the CUE card and practising the Yogic technique of Tratak had imprinted on my subconscious and unconscious mind the mental program that whenever my sights come into the aiming area they will be aligned, dead steady and I will achieve a sharp focus lock both optical as well as mental. This is precisely what happened, even with an improper gripping.
Another very interesting example which I wish to share with you is as follows;
In the early 90’s, when I was just starting off in shooting, there was a Doctor who won all the club, and state level air pistol competitions. One day, while competing in an event, his pistol malfunctioned during the sighters.
He quickly borrowed another pistol. He found that the grip was too small for his hand. So what did the good doctor do?
He removed the wooden grips entirely and shot the match holding only the metal frame on which the wooden grips were screwed on. And yes he won that competition also, scoring almost the same score which he normally shot in matches.
When asked, the Doctor replied with a wry smile, “It’s all in the Mind”.
Shooting being a mental sport, the Doctor had programmed his mind to deliver his best scores whatever be the situation. That is why programming your subconscious and unconscious mind with the correct training delivers miraculous results.
Systematic training through the yogic techniques discussed above will help you to master both mental as well as optical focus lock which in turn will deliver excellent follow through leading to an increase in your scores.
What is ‘Self-Image’?
“Self-image is how you see yourself in your mind.” And it is related to each and every activity that you do in life.
A self-image related to any activity can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.
For example, if you are asked to jump in the deep end of a swimming pool and if you do not know how to swim, the self-image which will flash through your mind and body is that of drowning, your self-image prevents you from jumping into the pool, thus risking your life.
However, if you are an expert swimmer, you will dive into the pool with confidence because your self-image is that of a strong swimmer.
If your self-image related to your shooting in a match is poor, then your result or performance will match your self-image, regardless of how many hours you may train and shoot brilliantly in your training sessions.
Can we change our self-image?
In Module No. 5 Mental Skills, I have introduced the systematic method for developing the match winning Self-Image. It is further developed and fleshed out in Module No. 6, The Mental Shot Program.
Just like you train hard in your home range, the same way, you have to put in systematic effort in developing your self-image.
Many shooters have asked me whether they can improve their practice matches scores in an actual match.
For example, if a shooter is shooting 565/600 in practice then can he improve his score to say 570/600 in a match after undergoing self-image training.
The answer is NO.
If you have never scored above 565/600 in your practice matches then you cannot realistically hope to score 570/600 in a match however superbly you may have mastered the self-image development exercises.
The expert swimmer dives into the pool with confidence because over the years, he has swum confidently in the deep end of the pool.
Therefore, he has developed a self-image of a confident swimmer, unlike a person who has never stepped into the pool, who does not have any images of himself swimming in the shallow end of the pool leave alone the deep end.
In shooting also, the Self-Image of a Match performance can never go beyond the practice matches performance.
In other words, you cannot reproduce the skills which you do not have, simply by imagining a match performance which demands skills which you do not possess.
With proper self-image training, a shooter who scores 565/600 in his practice match can reproduce the same score in his matches.
What is the method of developing your self-image?
This is explained in Mod 5 Mental skills, briefly I will discuss the steps as follows;
- Understand the different parts of our Mind – Conscious, subconscious and the unconscious.
- Understand how the body relates to each part of your mind.
- Understand how to relax your mind and body.
- Understand the steps of how to visualise correctly.
Please note, that haphazard practice without understanding any of the steps stated above can lead to failure. Systematic training of Mental Skills as explained in Mod 5 should be followed.
In the recently concluded National Championships in Bhopal, I had the opportunity of observing the World No. 1 Shooter in Air Pistol Ms Manu Bhaker, shooting during practise sessions and during the match. These are some of my observations;
1. Training Sessions:
There was no difference in her intensity of purpose and seriousness during practice sessions. She shoots her practice sessions exactly the way she shoots in matches.
This is precisely what I have advocated in my blog posts and Module No. 4 Advanced Training Methodology.
Compared to her, 99% of the shooters around her with a few exceptions were shooting their practice sessions in an undisciplined manner.
2. Composure and Poise:
While practising she was neither distracted nor unsettled in any manner, in fact her composure was almost monk like, calm. Cool and composed.
This poise came from the depth of visualisation which she practised before each and every shot.
In Module No. 4 Advanced Training Methodology, I have discussed this very important step (visualisation) and how it should be done to get into the zone.
3. Shot Cycle:
Each and every shot cycle was the same from shot to shot. (Shot Cycle explained in Mod. No. 1 Basic Training).
4. The Route:
The route is the path, which the sights of the shooter’s pistol follows, from Pt. A, which is the shooting platform to Pt. B, which is the point above the target where the pistol is raised and then lowered into Pt. C, which is the aiming area.
The time taken by Ms Manu Bhaker along the route was clockwork, precise and almost robot like in its sameness from shot to shot.
The Route is explained in Mod. No. 2 Technique for shooting a ‘10’.
5. Trigger timing:
Undoubtedly, she has worked thousands of hours mastering her trigger timing, but the key to her trigger timing lies not only in her extremely powerful visualisation before each and every shot but also the follow through of 3 to 4 seconds after the shot is fired.
6. Self Image:
Manu Bhaker’s Self Image is perhaps one of the most powerful and strongest that I have seen in any shooter. If you know what self-image means, then you have to only look into her eyes.
Hats off to her and I wish her the very best and pray that she shoots for many, many years to come.