Words of Advice? Competition Stress - 1911Forum
Advertise Here
Forum   Reviews   Rules   Legal   Site Supporters & Donations   Advertise

Go Back   1911Forum > >


Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-23-2007, 07:19 PM
Russ S. Russ S. is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Spring Lake, MI
Age: 72
Posts: 56
Words of Advice? Competition Stress

I'm 58 years old, never competed in ANYTHING until a year ago when I signed up for .22 NRA Bullseye competition in my local club. Regional group, 200 shooters. I do well in practice, but in competition I get nervous (acid stomach) and shoot poorly. So now the next year has begun, and I am doing only a little better.

So...drugs? alcohol? attitude? In practice, I can shoot a B2 target (50') 75 points, 65 points in competition.

Everyone tells me that I am only shooting against myself...but that does not wash.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 08:04 PM
10ring's Avatar
10ring 10ring is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 2,519
You're thinking about how you're going to do that day. If you can go to a match and just take one shot at a time and not think about the results. Just think about the things you need to do to make an accurate shot. Don't worry about the others, or even yourself. Think about how you feel, and try to detect and suppress any tension that's building in your body. One shot at a time.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 08:30 PM
Gonzoinc Gonzoinc is offline
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Middle, Bottom of Michigan
Age: 49
Posts: 395
What are you nervous about?
Are people going to laugh at you?
Are you going to shoot poorly?
Has anything bad ever happened while you were shooting?

If there isn't any reason for you to be nervous, then don't be nervous.
You know that you can shoot well.
keep that positive attitude.

Why are you shooting?
Is your goal to be the best in the world,
or are you shooting, just to have fun?

Try having fun.
IndIana Predator Central
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-23-2007, 09:16 PM
Dreadnought Dreadnought is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 1,179
Uh, I think any range will kick you out for even smelling of alcohol. Just hope you were kidding...
Just take some Mylanta before the match, mix it up with the other competitors so you feel more comfortable around them. And perfect practice makes perfect.
Vis consili expers mole ruit sua.

Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.
-J. G. Hale
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 09:16 PM
1Shot 1Shot is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Texas
Posts: 123
Match nerves! Sometimes I wish I still got em!

Concentrate on the task at hand. Making the shot. You can't worry about what the guy next to you just shot or is going to shoot. All you can control are your shots.

Taking deep breaths, slowly helps some.

First match I ever shot many years ago was a bowling pin match for a nice trophy. Thought I was going to throw up a couple of times. Didn't know why. Thought I was getting a virus or something. Didn't know about match nerves. That trophy still looks good on my shelf. Many more with it now but I am about as proud of that one as any of them.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 09:16 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Rhode Island
Age: 67
Posts: 1,444
Originally Posted by Russ S.
Everyone tells me that I am only shooting against myself...but that does not wash.
You are shooting against yourself! Seriously, when I started I had much the same experience.

There may be some external factors along with the head-game that Bullseye really is. For me, the biggest thing was shooting lots of matches so that "performance anxiety" was no longer a problem. After you get accustomed to shooting in competition you loose the nerves of stage fright.

Second was paying close attention to my diet after realizing that changes in blood sugar caused the shakes. That remains something I have to be careful about to this day.

It can be done!
Richard Ashmore
Distinguished Pistol Shot #1157
Distinguished Revolver #75
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 09:22 PM
Aircooled6racer Aircooled6racer is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Alpharetta GA between the ponds
Posts: 1,619
Hello: It should be fun. If it is not fun try something else. I know that sounds harsh but that is what it should be fun. Think of the golf player who throws his clubs when he makes a bad shot. If it makes you that angry why would you play golf? There are lots of things in life that make you angry or nervous. It should not be your sport you enjoy. Just take your time and you will do better. You are shooting with friends and people who enjoy the same thing as you. What could be better? Some members of our club enjoy the after shooting lunch more than the shoot. In the auto world we call it bench racing and it is fun too. Maybe you need to step back and look around and see the others who are having fun and ask them what they like about the shooting? Most of us here will never be the best but still enjoy what we do. Hope this helps and have fun. Thanks Eric
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 09:58 PM
mutterranch mutterranch is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 23
Bullseye shooting is almost a Zen thing! Concentrate on the front sight and absolutely NOTHING else!
I used to have a routine that I followed religously during a match. After each stage reload your mags first. Then, if you reload, pick up your brass. Then, when you're all ready for the next string, go score targets. (Obviously, paying close attention to the range commands.) Don't worry about making a few people wait, get yourself ready first. You can reduce your stress level by being ready BEFORE you step up to the line.
One other thing; NEVER, EVER, COUNT YOUR SCORE DOURING A MATCH! Don't count anyone else's either. In fact, don't look at the score board at all. You don't need that monkey on your back. It's a fact: The biggest stress inducer in any match is wondering "How you are doing". Don't think about scores at all, just shoot!
I loved bulseye shooting all the years that I did it. Have fun.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2007, 10:52 PM
DstnguishdR1586 DstnguishdR1586 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 409

The best words of advice I was ever given was that you don't shoot one match in a day, you shoot one each time you pull the trigger. I am a Highpower shooter, and I look at a match as 80 seperate matches. Each time I pull the trigger, I asses what I did and then move on to the next shot. Once that round punches that cheese cloth, that one is done and nothing you do will turn a 9 into a 10. Focus on sight alignment, trigger squeeze and try and remember that you are there to have fun and see what you are capable of, not to beat other shooters. One of the worst matches I ever shot was the President's 100 in 2002. I wanted to make the 100 so bad I could taste it. I started thinking about my total score before I ever finished my 200 yard line. I might as well have packed the rifle up and left. I was down several points going to the long line, started thinking about score and started second guessing wind calls that screwed me out of points. Needless to say I didn't make the 100, hell not sure what hundred I made that day. Just shoot one shot at a time, thats all you can do.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2007, 12:41 AM
JiminCA JiminCA is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,765
All the above about one shot at a time is good advice. You can only be in the present if you are to shoot well.

All I can add is this. You can gauge your tension level by your stomach muscles. If you can feel relaxation there you're relaxed. They are the last ones to relax and the first to tense up under pressure. Try it you'll see.

I didn't think this up. Picked it up in Enos' book.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2007, 09:52 AM
Mark 11 Mark 11 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 163
I started shooting High Power rifle in the early 90's. Towards the mid to late 90's after I learned the ropes, I started having a tremor at matches. It was especially bad during offhand, I was able to get rid of most of it in prone and sitting by using the sling a little tighter.
I finally went to a neurologist, and after a couple years of tracking this tremor, I found I had Multiple Sclerosis. I honestly thought it was match nerves, that because I did poorly in offhand, I was going to do poorly in offhand.

In addition to the mental game of shooting, make sure you get yourself a good B vitamin complex. Vitamin B helps the brain, and nerves. Make sure you get good exercise as a regular part of life. Of course, drinking coffee or caffiene soda is pretty silly.
Dry firing will help you with practice, you will never get through dry firing. Watch what happens to your body in everyday things. Tremor, tingling, numbness, a little unsteady, stiffness, etc. may not be signs of ageing.

If you think there might be something wrong, get it checked.
I wish you the best.
Mark 11
Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2007, 10:54 AM
jhe888 jhe888 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 141
Visualize the whole match. Imagine yourself shooting the match, step by step, before you shoot it.

This will help calm you, and it will also help you shoot better. Visualize a perfect match.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-24-2007, 06:31 PM
pingun.45 pingun.45 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: iowa
Posts: 469
Good stuff here!

I would also point you towards Brian Enos's website and the shooting forum..www.brianenos.com.
It will likely have the answers to alot of your questions there as well
Good luck,
Doug Carden
USPSA A-21848
Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2007, 08:35 AM
WilsonCQB WilsonCQB is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Minnesota
Age: 52
Posts: 479
I shoot bullseye as well. There are 2 national champions that I just happen to compete against and always fall a few points behind at the end of the match. This gets to be very frustrating to me.
It has been a LOT better the last 2 years as I am nipping at their heels, beating them on occassion. I found for ME, the concentration level has come up a lot. When I start to focus on beating those two guys my score goes down. When I focus on the mechanics of shooting ie the dot, my trigger control and follow through, my score goes up. I realized this only after shooting a few years.
Bottom line, try concentrating harder on the mechanics of your shooting discipline. The dot, trigger control, breath control and follow through. Just keep telling yourself this. CONCENTRATE man, CONCENTRATE!!!
I actually tell myself this outloud.
Steven Z , USPSA #L2504
Get to know HIM before HE pays you a visit
6" & 5" Grundhauser Gunworks .40 Limited 2011's, 4.25" Nighthawk Talon III 45ACP, 5" Springfield custom shop 40 caliber single stack built to TRP PRO specs
Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2007, 11:35 AM
Russ S. Russ S. is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Spring Lake, MI
Age: 72
Posts: 56
Thanks, so far.

Thanks, so far, for the replies. So many good thoughts that I will print them off and read off-line.

Why am I shooting? Want to improve skills for recreational shooting, figured the organized nature of competitive shooting could be a good thing. Could be wrong!

Also, great people on the teams. And, this probably goes withoug saying...of course no one laughs or points. Competitors from other teams have also tried to help me out.

WilsonCQB--you're right. Often I do not concentrate. Watching others while beginning to squeeze is proabably detrimental. Just kidding, a llittle.

Mark 11-hope you're doing OK with your MS. I also have a tremor, doc identified familial tremor. Very slight. But in reading about it they say that extending the arm makes it worse (oh, good) and attempting fine motor movements (like, perhaps, a trigger pull?) make it worse.

Regardless, thanks for the input. I will work on the concentration part, and the fun part, and see what happens.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2007, 06:37 PM
Mike'sgooddeal Mike'sgooddeal is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Michigan
Age: 49
Posts: 904
You can always give up and give the guns to your son. Hi dad.

Seriously, I had some real stomach acid problems over last Thanksgiving. Ended up going to the doctor, got a prescripion for 30 days and things healed up well. During the "healing" I quit drinking Coke (I used to drink 7-8 cans a day). I primarily quite Coke to lower the amount of acid, but caffeine is also rumored to be in there somewhere. Switched to water, sprite and other non-caffinated soft drinks. Since I'm "cured", I've decided to limit myself to 2 cokes or one iced tea a day. Sometimes I'll go 4-5 days w/o.

I've noticed a big difference in my hand stability when held out in front of me. I haven't been shooting much lately, but I'm sure the lack of caffeine will help.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2007, 07:15 AM
WESHOOT2 WESHOOT2 is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Vermont (Caspian country)
Age: 65
Posts: 15,321
I take Pepcid

When I started IPSC ('95) an eleven-yr-old girl beat me every match that first year.

I have gotten better, but I shoot for fun.


My gun-handling and gun-safety skills have gotten better.

But I shoot for fun.

I have squadded with champions, and they beat me, but it was still fun.


"all my ammo is mostly-retired factory ammo"
Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2007, 09:29 PM
frank_1947 frank_1947 is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: MO.
Age: 72
Posts: 300

I am going on 60 and I just started 1 1/2 years ago in USPSA and Steel challenge at my local club, just shoot against yourself, means trying to do better then you did last time, dont worry about the other guys just try to increase your score each time, and I suggest you try USPSA it is a BLAST, and Steel is good draw practice.

Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2007, 06:05 AM
JeffVN JeffVN is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Age: 61
Posts: 720
I agree with most everything that I see above, so +1 to that; The goal is to perform better under the stress of competition - how we get from performing in practice to the comp differs slightly for everyone.

Using me as an example, I used to be able hit the living crap out of a golf ball on the driving range -draw on demand as well as hit the high fiade - its a thing of beauty; taking the game from the range to the course was a different thing altogether. I used meditation and visualization techniques and it helped a lot.

I've always heard and personally found to be true that we perform under pressure like we practice. Its hard to re-create the same level of stress that we find in competition during practice, but that is what I try to do. I suggest that you find a way to induce something approaching competition stress into your practice routine so that when you are in the competition you'll be more acclimated to its effects and your performance potentially less impaired - you'll be more familiar with and therefore more comfortable with the exact same situations.

I currently use time-induced (must take the shot within X number of seconds) and physical effort induced stress (jogging in place, push-up, etc.)to recreate the competition stress that you encounter (increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, inhibited concentration) or a combination of the two.

Eveyone is different, and what works for me will not necessarily work for you. Sports shrinks make a fortune giving just this kind of advice.

Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2007, 02:15 PM
Mark 11 Mark 11 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 163
I'll bet the harder you concentrate the worse that tremor gets?

Before I knew it was MS, I had a terrible time with the tremor. I remember eating soup in a restaurant, there were people watching me and chuckling to themselves. You won't find people like that in the shooting comunity.
A familial tremor is tough to overcome, but try to divert your concentration to something else. If you find yourself concentrating on the shake, you're sunk.

Concentrate on the shot. Concentrate on the trigger squeeze, Concentrate on the fundamentals. Don't concentrate on the tremor.
There was this little girl who won a gold in air rifle at the olympics a few years back. Part of her training involved picturing perfect shots. She even had perfect pinwheel X's taped on the bathroom mirror. Concentrate on what's right.
And don't forget why you're shooting. It's to surround yourself with people who won't laugh at you because you have a hard time eating soup.
Mark 11
Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2007, 02:34 PM
Gerald Kuntze Gerald Kuntze is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: MO
Posts: 269
Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2007, 10:03 AM
me1911 me1911 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 1,075


Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2007, 10:32 AM
Gerald Kuntze Gerald Kuntze is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: MO
Posts: 269
Propronolol is a heart med-a beta blocker. It blocks the phisiological responses to stress. It's used by some to alliviate the symptoms of competition anxiety/stage fright. There are probably M.D.s on the forum who could explain the technical stuff. It requires a presciption.

Disclaimer: Not only am I not a doctor, I don't even play one on TV!!
Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2007, 06:08 PM
Russ S. Russ S. is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Spring Lake, MI
Age: 72
Posts: 56
yikes! a beginner's mistake

We shoot on Friday nights. Just over a week ago we shot and I had an alibi (spelling?) round. So lost 5 points. So tried to make it up on the next few targets. In reviewing my targets, WHAT A MISTAKE trying to play catch up. oh well, live and learn.

Gerald.... will talk to the doc. He changed me to atenolol, hoping it would help. Will talk to him about the Propronolol.

All..shot much better last Friday...just said "screw it" and banged off the rounds. Kind of interesting...the last two targets (B3--rapid fire) got the highest scores of the evening. (I'm shooting 630 of 900 poingts, next lowest on my team is 750, with the other three shooting 830+. I KNOW that I'm shooting only against myself, but... I'm kind of optimistic, will just go and have fun. Especially since only the top 4 on the team have scores recorded for team trophy...let's me out, which is a good deal. I have known that, but did not really internalize it.

AND tonight is Monday...when I host a "fun shoot", two times through the National match Course. 14 shooters, most beginners. Cancelled the shoot, we got 12" snow here in west Michigan the last few hours. But anyhow, that is a whole lot more fun. So, here I am at home, ripped open a beer.

For me, I'm guessing that beating myself up is the biggest problem.

Wintry evening regards to all.

Reply With Quote
Old 01-29-2007, 10:54 PM
Smokers Smokers is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 370
I'm 53. Been shooting bullseye for about 3 years. Read everything I could find on www.bullseyepistol.com. Subscribe and read the bullseye-list just about every day. After about 15,000 rounds of .22 rimfire downrange, I'm just beginning to understand my gun.

When I started, my scores were about like yours. Practice scores were 10-20 points higher than in competition with a .22. 30-40 points higher with the .45 I decided I would master the .22 then move back to the .45

My vision is pretty bad. Nearsighted and farsighted, astigmatism, mild cataracts. Put away my 60's vintage High Standard Victor and picked up a Marvel .22 conversion with an Ultradot sight. Built a dedicated lower for the Marvel from a beat up Colt Series 80 frame. Worked over the trigger to a nice 2 1/2 pound roll break.

My Marvel came with a .60 inch 50 yard test target. I can duplicate or best that size with a 2X scope over sandbags, so I know my gun is accurate. It will shoot that well with several brands of standard velocity ammo.

Once I removed equipment from the equation, I know a miss is my fault. If I don't shoot a 10 or X, I know it's my fault. Not the gun. Not the ammo. I've discovered that the perfect shot has a certain feel. The gun recoils a certain way. The trigger feels a certain way. The empty flies a certain way. When I feel it, I can call a 10 and where it hit in the 10-ring.

I no longer try to shoot 10's or X's. I try to shoot that perfect shot. On a good day, I can shoot mid 90's slowfire and 99's timed fire and rapid fire. On a bad day, slowfire will drop to 88-89.

That perfect shot only happens when I concentrate on the very basics of shooting. Sight picture, accept the wobble area, squeeze. For every shot, I say to myself, "Dot, wobble, squeeze." I know it sounds kinda corny, but it works for me. Forget about practice vs. match shooting. The only thing that matters is making that perfect shot-every time.

Don't get discouraged. Just keep on shooting. It does get better.
NRA Life Member

Last edited by Smokers; 01-29-2007 at 11:00 PM.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:38 AM.

NOTICE TO USERS OF THIS SITE: By continuing to use this site, you certify that you have read and agree to abide by the Legal Terms of Use. All information, data, text or other materials ("Content") posted to this site by any users are the sole responsibility of those users. 1911Forum does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity, or quality of such Content.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 2015 1911Forum.com, LLC. All Rights Reserved