Have you been a shooter for many years? If so, do you remember how confident you felt when you were young (or younger) and just starting out? Even as you made some not-so-great shots in your early days, you understood that was part of learning and you still hung on to a healthy confidence as you played. Or maybe you thought that the more you played and mastered the mechanics, the more confident you would become. How has that worked out for you? Are you as confident as you would like to be?
As I look at clay shooters and where a shooter’s conscious, analytical mind gets involved with rationalizing situations, I see how it brings in fear. That fear can easily chip away at a shooter’s confidence. The conscious mind, or ego, is quite sensitive to its beliefs in what it perceives should happen, along with all the emotional reactions that occur because of those beliefs. So as time passes and a shooter encounters more and more experiences, the conscious and subconscious mind has more information to draw from in causing interference with a shooter’s ability to perform at the greatest levels possible. Why is that?
One thing I have heard and learned from working with elite athletes is when they get older, they experience more hesitation and more fears that come in and muck up their games. This makes sense when you think about getting older, because you have more experiences to reflect upon. You have lots of stored information in your memory to draw from; if you’ve played that station or that tournament before, or had that kind of aim before. You can either have a perception of doing well with that in the past, or you can have a perception of not doing so well in the past. Whatever ‘that’ is can be anything from the station, tournament, target, the gun you use, or any other story the mind creates from each experience, including your emotions about the experiences being ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
As you get older, you have accumulated lots of those types of perceptions that will carry into a tournament, station, shot, target or any kind of experience you are about to face. The problem with that is how you tend to believe those kinds of thoughts, instead of simply facing the event, shot, etc., with fresh confidence. You have an immediate and automatic reaction to the present situation, based on your past, and it is your past experience that is then reflected because of your mindset. That is all well and good if your past experience was great. But what if it wasn’t? How does that affect your confidence as you get older?
In order to address this aspect of the seasoned shooter’s struggles, I chose the following suggestion. It is a self suggestion, so you can speak it to yourself all day long as an affirmation, to help you maintain confidence. You need to realize that you can choose what you think in your mind, and put your energy into. If you repeat your old thoughts, such as “I have a problem with my aim,” then you will tend to find evidence to support that and just maintain that kind of perception. So you need to become aware of your conscious level thinking, turn those kinds of thoughts around, and begin to focus your energy and thoughts on what actually builds your confidence. Think about things on purpose, that really exist, like you probably did when you were younger and felt so confident in your ability to get out there and shoot well.
The suggestion is: “I am full of a healthy level of confidence- like a young shooter’s mind– I enjoy clay shooting.”
If you think back to when you were younger, can you remember how you enjoyed clay shooting and how much fun you had? Do you also recall having fewer inhibitions, less negative thinking, not as many fears or expectations of doom and gloom holding you back? That’s probably why you had more freedom and fun at the younger age. You can hope to shoot with that frame of mind again, but simply hoping won’t do you much good. You need to tackle the reasons why you shoot differently, and that means addressing the mental perceptions and buildup of evidence that hold you back. Use your archive of experiences to replace those limiting mindsets with evidence that helps you perform well, freely, and confidently, like when you were young. You will find yourself enjoying the game more again, and see your performance improve as well.
You have the ability to discontinue the thoughts that are limiting, and encourage the thoughts that are limitless. Doing so will improve your confidence, strengths and the abilities within you. Start on this right away today, because there is no better time than the present to improve. Look at encouraging and finding evidence of how you perform well. Start to have fun again. Take some time to think about yourself at a young age; in a young shooter’s mind. Be very specific when you think back to a time in your life when you competed at a younger age. Look at yourself; look at how you thought and approached your shooting events, assess that information and analyze it. Collect information about who you were and the thoughts you had then, and notice the difference between then and now. As you do, put some extra effort into encouraging that healthier, more free mindset you carried at the younger age, and it will help your confidence level improve.
I highly encourage you to take this on yourself, because you have the ability to do this. But if you find that you need some help as you go along, I am here for you so please reach out to me. I really hope you find that fun and freedom that is within you, that you had at an earlier age and are perfectly capable of having again. Tap into that younger mindset of confidence and fun, starting today. Thanks for reading. InJoy your day!
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