Anyone can shoot better by using mental power. Read on to see how.
By now, we all know that improving your target shooting accuracy requires three steps: practice, practice and more practice. But not all practice happens at the range. You can practise target shooting anywhere and anytime by exercising your brain. It’s a matter of focusing, ignoring distractions and calming your mind. Stepping up your mental mindset is bound to spark more impressive performances.
Visualise yourself shooting the perfect shot on the range. If you train your mind to see yourself succeed, you gain confidence, improve concentration and boost positive thinking.
A simple visualisation exercise is to imagine yourself at a shooting competition. Walk through your shot process, focusing intently on each step. See yourself do each step and execute a perfect shot. Believe me, it’s a good substitute for actual practice when life gets busy.
Goal-setting is an important part of training mentally for target shooting. Setting goals and visualisation go hand in hand. Start the process by choosing the ultimate goal, such as achieving a high score, shooting a longer distance, or winning the competition. Then set incremental goals that help you achieve your larger goal.
Not only does shooting require intense focus and confidence, but you need to have the ability to block out distractions. It’s just a simple fact that noise can disturb your concentration, thus interrupting your shot process. To ignore distractions, try this easy drill. Turn on the radio and slowly count to 100, ensuring that the sound doesn’t distract your silent counting. Even better, read while listening to music. Make sure to tune out the music and focus on reading.
GLASS HALF FULL
An optimistic attitude contributes to the mental strength required to shoot your best on the range. So try this: fill a glass with water and hold it in your non-dominant hand. With your arm extended, focus on the glass. Try to keep the liquid as steady as possible for as long as possible. This is excellent practice for the focus needed when aiming.
Now it’s time to hit the range for a competition.
DURING A COMPETITION
The time to think about the mechanics of your shooting is during practice sessions, not during a competition. At a competition, don’t think about your shot and dissect the mechanics. This will only trip you up. Just shoot. And don’t be afraid of failing. Everyone misses – even pros. Fear causes anxiety. While anxiety causes you to tense up. Just relax.
During the competition, focus on your zone. Clear your mind of clutter and just think about shooting.
So, now you’ve upped your game. And you understand that you too, can shoot better by using mental power.
Building confidence behind your gun isn’t only key to self-defence, it’s all-important on the range and in life. So says the master of confidence and Marksman’s Nest chief range officer, Geoffrey Coetzee.
He continued, “Building confidence behind your gun or any firearm hinges on practical range time, plus: shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Confidence in your yourself – and your gun – goes a long way toward shooting proficiency.
“There’s no such thing that some people are born more confident than others. It’s a matter of practising the art of building confidence and not giving up when the going gets tough. Without doubt, your most precious resource when shooting is confidence.”
Tips to boost shooting confidence
Two tips to help building your confidence behind your gun and on the range are:
The confidence imperative
In a group of shooters of similar skill, the more confident shooter will hit the bullseye more often than the others. And when the situation is fraught with tension, confidence becomes even more important. This applies to both a self-defence situation and on the range. A case in point is in elite sport. At this level, the physical differences between athletes are minimal; therefore, the effects of confidence are maximised.
Control what you think
So yes, confidence can be learned and it’s within your control. It all boils down to what you tell yourself.
Strong and stable confidence comes from controlling what you think about. Of course, this starts with stopping the blame game and making excuses. Researchers have found that people who continually blame others or their circumstances have significantly lower confidence and significantly more self-sabotaging behaviour than those who don’t.
Become aware of what you say to yourself and others about the events you experience, the circumstances you face and the people you interact with. Thus you’ll start choosing to think and say things in a manner that’ll build confidence.
Everything in life is filled with ups and downs. But those people who control their inner dialogue by staying positive and productive, build and maintain stable confidence. When you’ve reached this stage, you’ll get the most out of life, plus your shooting performance will soar.
Standard membership applications are now open at the beautiful Marksman’s Nest shooting range near Malmesbury. Partner with us for a mere R900 per annum to practise your shooting skills to your heart’s content in 90-minute sessions. This applies from Tuesdays to Saturdays as from September 2021 until December 2022.
Luckily, we also offer extended membership for those who want to practise harder and more often. Ask our chief range master Geoffrey Coetzee about this option.
At our shooting range, we cater for handguns, shotguns, bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles. Not only that, but we also offer exciting shooting experiences (additional rates apply) for young and old. These range from clay pigeon shooting, basic handgun, shotgun and automatic rifle training to combination packages.
And every so often, we also present shooting competitions when great fun is had by all. In addition, several specialist packages are available for business firearm training, plus security officer or law enforcement training.
Friendly, safe environment
What’s more, security at our range – which happens to be one of the Swartland gems – is top-notch. This guarantees our visitors peace of mind in a friendly environment. Moreover, our current members can attest to the fact that everyone is treated as part of the the family. And it goes without saying, that all our instructors are backed by years of experience.
Seeing that standard membership applications are now open, you may feel a bit intimidated about your first trip to the range. Have no fear. Remember, hundreds have gone before you and they came out triumphant. If you’d like to know what you’re letting yourself in for, do contact Geoffrey Coetzee. He’ll talk you through the experience and set your mind at ease.
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Choosing a concealed carry handgun, or everyday carry gun (EDC), is a momentous choice first time around. In fact, it could be a life saver. EDC is the general term that refers to carrying your self-defence firearm in a concealed manner.
Choosing the right firearm starts at the place where you’ve done your basic firearm training, because they can provide you with hands-on advice. After all, they gave you the feel and contributed towards developing that need to carry an EDC firearm. That’s why your firearms instructor would be able to clear all uncertainties there and then about choosing a concealed carry handgun.
Comfort contributes to confidence
Like sitting comfortably in your car seat, your handgun must feel first time right when you pick it up the right way. Thus the perfect grip literally sells the gun. Comfort in your hand and inside the holster receives the highest priority. This ensures that you get to the trigger first when you need it most.
Importantly. the more you draw your firearm from the holster and pull the trigger, the better you become as muscle memory is established. Muscle memory is one of the body alarm elements as taught in our self-defence level 1, 2 and 3 courses. It’s also one of the main default elements when you fall victim to crime or when under attack.
However, having the requisite self-defence ability doesn’t merely entail practical skills. Which is why well-designed and -presented training builds confidence.
Self-defence happens at short range
Although a smaller and lighter EDC handgun contributes to easy concealment, the calibre doesn’t really matter when it comes to self-defence situations. Because the advantage actually lies in your ability to fire the first shot under stress. Self-defence training develops this heightened ability when you need it most.
Usually, a self-defence situation occurs at short range (1-10 metres); therefore accuracy is less important. When defending yourself, the aim isn’t to harm or kill, but to be equipped with the ability to stand up for yourself, refusing to be a victim and to fight back when the need arises.
Therefore, you’ll need considerable practise and training. “And the more often you shoot, the more comfortable you’ll be with your gun,” said Marksman’s Nest chief range officer Geoffrey Coetzee.
Importantly, when choosing a concealed carry handgun, make sure that it’s both easy to load and pull the trigger mechanism.
Try them out
If you’re able to enroll for additional handgun training at a shooting range, go through the paces and try as many different techniques and scenarios as you can. Repeated scenario-based training builds your muscle memory.
“You and you alone should decide what feels right for you,” Geoffrey added. “At Marksman’s Nest, we’ll make recommendations, but nothing beats personal experience. We have classes available for new gun owners and refresher courses for those who haven’t shot in a while. Crucially, our courses teach participants about the right way to handle a gun.”
Arming yourself for self-defence purposes is the stark reality of life in South Africa. Right across the country, many women now own guns and regularly participate in target shooting at shooting ranges.
Yet, even with more women engaging in shooting sports, that’s not actually why so many are purchasing guns. It’s not for fun. It’s for self-defence. According to research, women are more likely than men to cite protection over recreation as the foremost reason for owning a gun. And for many women, it’s the sole reason.
Say no to fear
Now more than ever, women are buying guns to protect themselves. One such woman is Geraldine Burke. She said, “I work long hours and drive a 200-km round trip to work every day. The route is fraught with hijacking hotspots. Which is why I decided to put a stop to the constant fear while driving.
“Thanks to Geoffrey and Hein’s training and patience during the self-defence training, I’ve learnt all the aspects of the law on gun ownership, handgun maintenance, alertness and preparedness.”
Forty years ago, self- and home-protection typically were relegated to the man in the household, but that’s no longer the case today. Arming yourself has become a priority. Today’s woman is stepping up her role to protect herself and the people around her.
According to Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee, with a rise in women carrying concealed, it’s important to understand your weapon and feel comfortable with it in your hand. “Therefore, it’s best to take a class or a few courses on gun handling.
“There are classes both for new gun owners and refresher courses for those who haven’t shot in a while. Classes include self-defence, carrying concealed, as well as those specifically for women.
“Our classes encompass everything you need to know about your gun, demystifying firearms for those who’ve never been around guns. We also teach trainees how to take them apart and put them back together, how clean them, how to handle them and of course, how to shoot them.
“As was the case with Geraldine, we also teach trainees about gun safety and the legalities of carrying concealed. And importantly, we have drills to get you used to pulling and drawing your firearm, building your confidence and comfort levels.”
It’s fun too
Geraldine concluded, “The courses are not only extremely informative, but also loads of fun. By learning from the pros, we all learnt to do things the right way, avoiding bad practices.
“Regardless whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, I’ve learnt that practising regularly is key in having the ability to handle my gun effectively and consistently.” Arming yourself has indeed become a must.
“Refusing to be a victim is the sensible choice for all women in South Africa today.” These are the words of self-defence advocate Karen Koen.
“We can’t expect our men to protect themselves and us in a potentially dangerous situation. After a horror crash left my husband man-alone on a deserted road when I was transported to hospital, I decided there and then to take up gun-handling training lessons.”
Karen said choosing Geoffrey Coetzee and his team at Marksman’s Nest for the self-defence gun training was one of the best decisions she’d ever made. “There’s no masquerading here. Just incredibly good training and imparting years of knowledge to trainees. Professionalism is tops and importantly, the environment is 100% safe.
The psychology of self-defence training
Psychology researchers have found that self-defence training can increase confidence in women. It also improves mental health and decreases feelings of vulnerability.
What distinguishes self-defence classes at Marksman’s Nest is the focus on boundary-setting, assertiveness and dealing with everyday situations. It’s not just about the best way to shoot at close range, but also things that happen in everyday life. These range from street harassment to an overly boundary-crossing co-worker.
When refusing to be a victim, it’s also important to have the ability to “own your space.” Many people’s go-to response to harassment is to ignore rather than confront it. Boundary-setting is an important piece of feminine self-defence because it can help women avoid situations in which assault could occur.
“I’ve just grown and grown as a person since starting my training in safe gun handling. This has given me the confidence carry a concealed weapon, knowing that I’ll be able to use it in life-threatening situations,” Karen said.
“Apart from all the basics, such as gun maintenance, handling and anti-hijacking skills, every time I visit the range, I learn something new. So far, I’ve completed my first certification and will be doing all the remaining modules.
“And the most remarkable thing is how Geoffrey ingrains the power of muscle memory in each of us.
“I simply can’t rave enough about these life-altering courses – for women and men alike. Refusing to be a victim has certainly become the mantra for many a trainee.”