Monday, July 2, 2007

The importance of a Competition Journal

One of the great things about having taken such a long break away from competition air pistol shooting is that I forgot a lot of things. Specifically, bad habits. A huge portion of this sport, like any sport for that matter, is the mental aspect of it. I used to spend a lot of time training my mind.

When I was regularly competing before, I would get myself into a lot of trouble with a poorly executed mental performance. The problem with this is that I would finish the competition and leave it at that and not do anything to correct a poor performance. This was made worse if I actually shot a decent score and did nothing afterwards.

Shooting a decent score is like going to a match and staying within your comfort zone and being content with that. Boring. If you want to shoot super scores you need to do more than piggyback on a 'decent performance' to get you there.

The goal of a training / competition journal should be to reinforce positives and modify negatives.

When I went to my first competition this past May I made sure that I kept a journal of everything so that I would have notes to work from later. This became especially important to me when I knew it would probably be the only competition I'd be able to attend before going to Nationals in August. Looking back at my notes now, I know I will always do it for every single competition I attend from now on.

Allan Harding's Competition Journal
What do I keep track of in my Competition Journal?
  • Event name, location, results

  • Overall thoughts: Were there any themes to how I felt I did?

  • Time leading up to match: Travel details... any problems with accommodations? car rental? What went right? Did I forgot to pack anything? Should I have brought anything differently? What did I eat? How did I sleep? Etc.

  • During competition: How many sighter targets did I take? What was I wearing? Any problems with my equipment? Any possible improvements to equipment? Range lighting? Other range notables? Competition pace? Mental routine? Physical routine?

  • After competition: Immediate thoughts after competition? Who shot next to me? Scoring accuracy by officials and scorers?

  • Other thoughts?
I kept track of a LOT of details. The photo above shows some of the details of what I wrote down after Provincials. I find it useful to separate a training journal from a competition journal.

My biggest takeaways from that competition were equipment related and in reinforcing the positive benefits of a training AND competition journal.

At Provincials I had 3 key areas all related to equipment that I wanted to improve:
  • Sight blackener. When I competed before I used to always take a carbide lighter to my gun sights to make them super black.

  • C02 - The precious gas which powers my pellets 10 meters to the target. I had one empty cylinder and another which was nearly empty after having been shipped via air from Cibles Targets. The range was out of C02 and most of the other competitors were either using Compressed Air or a different brand of gun. Knowing that after any shot you might be out of air isn't healthy for your mental program.

  • Shooting glasses. The lens in my shooting glasses is 10 yrs old... it was OK but I knew for Nationals I would be better off if I went and got my eyes tested and possibly even got a new lens cut for my glasses. At the very least I would be able to rule out my eyes as any kind of an excuse. ;)
All of these points are actual notes in my competition journal. With 6 weeks to go I've ordered sight blackener from my friend Scott at Illingworth Imports as well as a Knobloch Lens Testing Kit. Knobloch is the make of shooting glasses I compete with, I'll be covering those in my next blog posting.

As always... any feedback and comments are hugely appreciated. If you like this blog please tell a friend, let me know, or let's exchange links. Cheers.
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