Chuck Bradley
Chuck di Salvo
Mike Auger
Millard Ellingsworth
Curtis Macmahon
Phil Strader
Detlef Hohl

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 15:08:16 EST
Subject: Re: big match performance, when good shooters go bad

In a message dated 11/29/00 1:05:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

So I'll pose some questions to Phil and Chuck and Michael and any other top shooters reading this (and other shooters who manage to do well at big matches)... What do you do to prepare for a big match? What is your mindset at a big match? Relaxed? Focused? How do you keep yourself from making big mistakes? How do you shoot at or near the top of your ability from the first stage in the morning to the last stage of the afternoon and do it all again the next day?

Well Eric, who says we shoot good all day. The key is to be consistent. Look at Phil, he used to win half the stages but he would never win due to crashing the rest. I am going to take a little bit of credit for his success. I told him like I am telling you that you need to be focused but not pumped. Now he is doing really good. It is a hard thing to discipline yourself not to go all out. you need to pull back enough to make sure you get all your hits(good points is even better) and dont make any stupid mistakes.

Approaching a stage is key also. This is what I do. I look over the stage and decide the best way and SAFEST way to shoot it. I weigh the advantages and possible disaster factor with each variation of shooting it. I will not risk running dry unless the probability of achieving the desired outcome is good and it gives a large advantage over the safe way. Most the time shoot it the safe way. Once I decide how I will shoot the stage I dont even think of other ways, if you do it will clog your mind and you may make a mistake. Then I relax and make sure my mags are all loaded. I will run the stage in my mind a couple times with my eyes closed and then again with them open while looking at the stage or what I can see of it.

While shooting the stage you have to take each shot as it was a step through the stage and execute each step then proceed to the next until it is complete. You will make less mistakes using this approach rather than the going like mad approach. I am not saying that you may not turn in a great performance going all out when it all clicks and falls into place. But like I said , consistency is the key to performing well in big matches. Chuck

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 18:21:47 -0500
From: "Chuck DiSalvo"
Subject: Reply to Eric Warren

Eric: After reading your and Chuck's posts I'd like to offer this opinion to your question.

Technical mastery and stage/match strategy are important items to one's success. Learn those skills, both mechanical and mental and practice them as much as humanly possible.

One aspect of shooting that few people talk about openly, maybe because it's wishy-washy for a full grown man to discuss openly is heart.

How many shooters go to a sectional championship or Area match and feel like they somehow don't belong there if they're not in contention for the match win? Listen closely the next time you partake in such an event and you'll likely here "what am I doing here?" or " I don't stand a chance against these guys". It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that the scores I obtain are for MY gratification. I try to improve on MY personal best scores. Worrying about others around me only made me climb into my shell and perform very cautiously and without confidence. You need to feel that you belong there and it you make a mistake it's not the end of the world because EVERYONE makes mistakes.

Self Confidence and a value of self worth are crucial if your going to have both fun and success. Practice the basics, don't cheat yourself during your training. Nothing good comes from a poor effort. Most important feel good about what you do well, don't dwell on what you do bad. Work on those problem spots until they are no longer problems.

Next time your at a match ask your buddy how he/she did on a particular stage. No matter how well they did the first thing that comes to their mind and the first thing that comes out of their mouth are the mistakes they made. My coach asks me how many "A's" I have or how many "X's" i have on my Bianchi targets. Not how many misses or penalties I've got!

Focus on the positive, it will make the job easier and more fun for you. If you keep an open mind, positive attitude and work as hard as you can learning and refining your basic shooting skills success WILL come. It's only a matter of time. You belong at any match you enter, don't let anyone intimidate you or tell you otherwise. Personal satisfaction is just that, personal. I wish you the best of luck!

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 22:52:55 -0800
From: "Mike Auger"
Subject: big match attitude

In a message dated 11/29/00 1:05:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

So I'll pose some questions to Phil and Chuck and Michael and any other top shooters reading this (and other shooters who manage to do well at big matches)... What do you do to prepare for a big match? What is your mindset at a big match? Relaxed? Focused? How do you keep yourself from making big mistakes? How do you shoot at or near the top of your ability from the first stage in the morning to the last stage of the afternoon and do it all again the next day?

When I first arrive at a big match I will sometimes feel a little uneasy but I reflect on the fact that I can make all the shots easily, it is really a matter of having the "confidence" that you can in fact do everything required at a major match at speed. Your practice regimen is what will give you the confidence that you can do everything without ever even having to think about it while your doing it. Practice everything, but especially the stuff you don't like, you know the stuff you are no good at. Practice it and dry fire till you can do it in your sleep.

Some big match experience helps too, so try to attend all the big matches you can.

You want to feel relaxed so you can have fun but still confident that you are ready, then you can perform up to your best.

Most major matches ( overall or class) are not won by the guy with all the best and fastest scores but rather by the person who screws up the least, and we all screw up at least a few things at every match even if it's small like a slow mag change or a few D's. Usually there are a few big screwups in everyone's match story.

All you have to do is come up with a plan for each stage that fits your shooting style and ability, review it in your head until you know it with your eyes closed. Like Chuck said you have too be real sure you will get a big advantage for any chancey type plans or you will be better off playing it safe.

Be as aggressive as you can with movement as long as you are smooth coming into your shooting position but then slow down enough to SHOOT EACH SHOT so you see enough to hit with good points for EVERY SHOT. Any miss takes about 15 match points off your score and a D takes off about 3 and they add up to drop your match points. Remember the winner is the one with the most total match points. True on some stages you can go fast enough to negate a miss, but only if your competition is slow, take the extra 1/100 sec and get all the hits.

Michael Auger

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 08:03:35 -0800 (PST)
From: Millard Ellingsworth
Subject: RE: big match performance, when good shooters go bad

Can't claim to be one of the great or even really good shooters, but I have a great mentor (Mike Dalton of ISI, Steel Challenge, and Les Baer advertising fame) and his advice mostly follows ""'s (I'm paraphrasing and interpreting and embellishing some):

1. Each _shot_ is the match. There are no unimportant or overly important shots. Make them one at a time as quickly as you can. This way of thinking basically leads to the consistency that avoids the "stage that sunk me".

2. Decide how you'll shoot the stage and stick with your plan. Don't watch the folks before you and think "I'll do it like them". It needs to be your own plan. Think it through until "why" you've decided to do it that way "fits" with how you shoot. Otherwise the first hiccup in the stage will wipe the plan from your mind. Bruce Lee said it years ago: "Conscious thought is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action." Internalize your plan and then follow Rule #1.

3. This is kid stuff, but easy to forget: What just happened no longer matters. If you forget this, you won't be able to focus on Rule #2. If you are a Country and Western fan, just think Kenny Rogers: "There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done".

4. Show up with no other expectations than that you'll apply the three rules above along with your hours of practice and general preparation. Don't get pumped about winning, get focused on performing.

Like others said: It's all mental -- you already know how to shoot. Learning how to perform is the next stage.


Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 10:55:30 -0800
From: Curtis
Subject: Re: big match performance, when good shooters go bad


I had the pleasure of shooting a match this year in AL with Chuck, he is a lesson on shooting in motion, he moves when he needs to but isn't careless with motion, he told me:

"don't get ahead of the gun and intend to do everything you do". he later explained he meant I was shooting before I had fully addressed the target.

He also told me that in the event of a screw up, SLOW DOWN GET ALL YOUR POINTS. by those statements it proves, as in motorcycle racing, being mentally in CONTROL is paramount.

He and another GM talked the stage out before they shot and each did shoot it their own way. I just followed and listened.......

curtis mcmahon a 35047

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 14:20:07 EST
Subject: BIG Match Performance

Well, since the true top shooters (Chuck and Mike) answered, I'll put my two cents in. I basically just watch those guys and do what they do!! Isn't that right Chuck!!? HA HA! Actually, it wasn't that long ago I was in the same shoes as any other youngster starting out in this sport. Shooting too fast, completely out of control, etc, etc. I'm only now starting my fourth year of real competition. But, I have learned a couple of things. Here are some of those "tricks."

1. THE MENTAL GAME After playing golf for quite a number of years, I've incorporated the same mentality towards shooting a match. Before one hits a good golf shot, the best thing to do is to visualize the shot, the flight of the ball, your swing, etc. It's the same with many athletic sports. Gymnasts envision their rountine, before execution. Weightlifters see themselves deadlifting 500 lbs before they even touch the bar. Well, before shooting a stage I visualize exactly (what I think is) the fastest, most efficient way to get from the starting position to the last shot. For each stage, I go over each movement in my head, over and over. If you see yourself doing it, then it will be programed pretty well. If you ever watch me prepare to shoot, I'll load up, close my eyes, and go over each part of the stage. That seems to help. The power of positive thought is pretty amazing.

2. WHAT TO WATCH Keep your eye on the ball! How many times have we heard that one? It applies in many sports, but especially golf. You have to remember all those different things with the swing; right elbow in, left arm straight, back swing, follow through, etc. But, if you pull your head up or take your eye off the ball all of that goes to crap. The same thing applies to the front sight. You could have the perfect game plan, but if you don't see the front sight, then it doesn't matter. As Todd Jarret told me in 1997 "anyone can miss fast!" Keep this in mind; the more comfortable you are with the footwork, the more you can concentrate on what you have to......the sight picture! Remember, keep you eye on the ball...uh...front sight!

3. HOW TO PRACTICE We always hear, "shoot all "A's" when you practice." This is fine and it's good advice, but lets look at it from a different perspective. When you shoot a big match, you should perform at around 85-90%, depending on the situation. Well, if you shoot all A's during practice, then what performance level are you practicing at? If you think it's 100% of your ability, you're wrong. Your top performance level (100%) is attained when you're on the edge of losing control, ie., C's and a few D's. It is surpassed (101%+), when you start missing, or stop seeing your front sight. When you KNOW where that level is, then you'll truly be able to shoot a match, or stage at the percentage you want. In other words, if you practice all A's, and go to a bigger match trying to perform at 85% of your practice level, then you're actually shooting 85% of 85%. This is not effective. Make sense? I hope so. OH, one more thing. If you plan on shooting alot majors in a year, try thinking of local matches as practice. Push on some stages harder than you usually would and pay attention to what happens. This works really well. You might not do so well in the match, but it won't hurt as much bombing a local, as it would trashing a Limited Nationals.

4. IF YOU CAN'T PRACTICE (my situation) I found out more about my golf swing, when I set up a video camera (someone elses), and taped my swing. I then compared it to the top professionals. Boy did I learn a few things! The same thing applies to dry firing. You would think as a firearms instructor for the government, I would have an unlimited supply of ammo. Unforetunatly, this is not the case. Therefore, most of my practice is dry-firing, and visualization. What I will do is try to imagine a stage that I've recently shot (usually one that I screwed up) and try to place little cardboard targets on my wall the way they were set up. Then I'll run myself through the imaginary stage. YES I DO HAVE A LIFE, sort of!! :~) Also, try dry-firing in front of a mirror. Seeing yourself really helps you see what you might be doing wrong.

Well, I hope this helps someone out there. I really hope that I see some of you all at the big matches this year. That's what I truly love about this sport. Meeting new people and seeing good friends with common views. If this helps anyone, please come up to me and introduce yourselves, because my memory sucks. Shoot well.

Phil Strader, Jr. ty31992

Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2000 20:32:15
From: "Detlef H."
Subject: Re: speed vs. accuracy

Erik (who started all this) wrote:
I have to disagree with Jerry and agree with Chuck. Don't give up the points! Remember, it's always score divided by time, neither is truly more important than the other. However, different courses of fire tend to favor one over the other to produce a high hit factor. Generally, a lower round count requires more points, and a higher round count requires more speed. I find the cut-off point somewhere around 20-24 rounds. When a course has a lot of movement, speed becomes more important. When a course is 'stand and deliver,' score becomes more important.

I will assume that you know better than this and just didn't express it: The round count is irrelevant (although there may be a correlation), your personal hitfactor on the stage counts. In fact, in my experience I'd even go the other way: A lower round count requires more speed (because often high hit factor), a higher round count more points (often lower hit factor). Whichever way:

Hit factor guessing (better: estimation) is an important tool in a match of any size. ALWAYS estimate your own hitfactor before shooting a stage. Other shooters' times can be a good guide, but don't rely too much on it. Also, for your strategy of speed vs. points DO NOT use the top hit factors of the best shooter thru so far.

Once you estimated your own hitfactor, my personal assessment is this: Everything lower than 5 (.2 sec per point) is accuracy oriented, everything much less than five means *A only*. Everything much above 5 is speed oriented, above 10 *very much* so (.1 sec per point)! Of course, your assessment depends on your capabilities.

The Area 2 match that started this entire discussion had nearly a 9 average high hit factor, *in Limited*!!!! Low round-count stages often have higher hit factors, but sometimes a lot of moving is involved with little shooting, and then you have a low round count stage with a 3 hit factor (remember: A only!).

Moreover: In a big match you probably care even more about relative placement on a stage than about stage percentage. That's when indeed the top shooter's hitfactor comes into the equation, and when sometimes aggressive risk taking is justified. Assume you know that someone *really* burned that 40 point speed shoot. You calculate that shooting conservatively and safe will get you only 10 points anyway, then risk taking might be justified because you have little to lose.

Anyway, know your hit factors!



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