This year’s World Rimfire match was held at the Old Fort Gun Club in Van Buren, Arkansas. Let me tell y’all, it was cold; especially on Friday when the wind was blowing. Speaking of the cold, many people were having trouble with their pistols. One the best tips we have received is to keep magazines and ammo warm. This helps keep the pistols running smoothly. During this match, I had several malfunctions. I had no problems with the cold; my limited pistol was just worn from use. This brings me to my next topic: staying in the zone.
Here lately, I have been trying to push past my own mental barriers. I already have a barrier to push through at the beginning of matches, but malfunctions add another layer of bricks to the barrier. I was truly tested at this match. With this match being the breaking point of my limited pistol, I was having at least one malfunction on every stage. This meant that I really had to be on top of my game. I, alongside many other athletes, have zones. I have a basketball zone, Taekwondo zone, Krav Maga zone, and a shooting zone. Every zone is a learning experience.
The first step to having a zone is knowing what a zone is. The zone or flow is a mental state in which an athlete can perform to their greatest ability. This is when noise is silenced, time slows, and everything seems to be perfect. The first time I noticed my basketball zone was in my seventh grade year. I was playing a basketball game and I had a very Hollywood moment. All I saw was the ball, the court, and the players. I saw no bleachers and I heard no screams. This all happened while I was running down the court with the ball and several players were right at my heels.
To put this in perspective of shooters, I have another example in relation to shooting. Every time I shot a perfect stage, I was in my zone. Once I am in ready position and waiting for the buzzer, all I hear is my breathing and the stillness in the air. I hardly ever even hear the RO’s commands! When the buzzer goes off, I do my thing. Time seems to slow as I make my shots and this usually ends quickly. As soon as I have a confirmed hit on the stop plate, I start getting ready for the next string. At this point, my mind is blank and my times almost never register in my head.
The second step is to control your zone. When I played basketball, I knew when I was in my zone. I never told myself, “Hey, get in your zone.” It just happened. My shooting zone is different. I am still in the process of “controlling” my zone. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. I have noticed one thing that helps me get in my zone: breathing. This seems pretty obvious, but it is harder than it seems. When I used to step up to the shooting line, my heart was already racing. This is no bueno. Taking deep, controlled breaths will help slow your heart rate and keep you steady – mentally and physically.
On that note, relaxing is another great way to get in the zone. I have noticed that I will grind my teeth when I shoot. Every time I make the conscious decision to unclench my jaw, I am able to get in my zone. Notice I said conscious decision? As I mentioned earlier, my mind is blank when I’m in my zone. This means that anytime I think about anything while I shoot, I am not in my zone. This correlates with controlling my zone. I try to push all my thoughts away and just focus on shooting. It’s just me, my gun, the plates, and the timer.
I explained all this to get to my main point. After having a malfunction, it is crucial to take a breath, relax, and get in your zone once again. When I have a malfunction, I am usually pushed out of my zone. When I notice this happen, I stop for a second and take a big, deep breath. I clear my head the best I can and prepare for my next string. Also, I found I can relax quicker if I drop my shoulders. Dropping my shoulders allow me to know that all the stress and anxiety is out and I am ready for the next string.
As an RO, I know that some days can be long and exhausting. We’ve been standing there timing people all day long and we can’t wait for it to be over. I can say for myself and several other ROs that we don’t mean a thing when we accidently rush the timing process. When you as a shooter need a breath between strings, take that breath! Don’t feel rushed by the ROs or other shooters! I tell myself this all the time and I still feel rushed sometimes. Just remember that when you are in the box, you do what you need to do in order to shoot your best.
I have seen another thing as an RO: shooters give up. While shooting my limited pistol, I had many malfunctions. Malfunctions aren’t fun and they can make anyone frustrated or want to quit. Do not quit! Remember that you got this! When malfunctions occur during a string, it is essential that you finish the stage with smooth runs. I have seen many people shoot crazy strings after a malfunction. I don’t mean good crazy, but strings with many make-up shots. This is because of one of two reasons: the shooter either quits or is an anxious type of excited. There were a few times that I had trouble calming down after a malfunction. After realizing that I wasn’t calm, I took another deep breath and carried on.
Now it’s time for match talk. I was squadded with Cole and Rick Busch, Kurt and Sydney Wojtowicz, Larry Sitter, and Timothy Guerrero. I had an amazing time hanging out with the squad and I can’t wait until I see everyone again. On Friday, Brian Conley with Hunters HD Gold was shooting cowboy. It was quite a sight to see! 😂
I appreciate all the people who made this match possible! Every year, I look forward to the Rimfire World Championship, and this one left me satisfied. Also, congratulations to Nate Gibson for his win!! You have achieved so much this year! Keep it up! Congratulations to all the other winners!
Thank you for reading my blog! 😁
31st overall with Open
43rd overall with Limited
2nd Place Lady Open Division
2nd Place Lady Limited Division
Hunters HD Gold
Allchin Gun Parts
Striplin Custom Gunworks
Hunters HD Gold
Steel Target Paint
Red Hill Tactical
Allchin Gun Parts
Striplin Custom Gunworks
Range Tactical Gear
Primeaux Steel Targets
MCE Digital Armory
Breakthrough Clean Technologies