Friday, August 3, 2007

Pistol shooting conditioning for peak performance

Going into the final week before I compete at Nationals... it's all about getting all of the training to date to be timed right for a peak performance.

The last few weeks I've been at the gym quite a bit and doing a lot of fast walking between 3.2 - 3.8 mph at a 15.0 incline on the treadmill. This helps for cardiovascular training as well as increasing core strength in leg muscles which will ultimately give you better balance in your shooting stance. I also do a lot of weight training rotating muscle groups to allow for at least 72 hr recovery periods. Every muscle group during a recovery period ends up affecting my shooting performance during practice sessions. This is a result of the muscle building process, extra water in the muscles during this time and overall recovery fatigue. I break up muscle groups into the following categories: chest, back, arms, shoulders, abs, legs.

Al Harding Heart Rate Monitoring
Heart rate data captured of 20 minutes of cardio,
40 minutes of weights, and another 20 minutes of cardio

If I've had an active week at the gym (like this week) and I go to the shooting range, my shot grouping has a larger spread. It is when I'm fully rested and recovered that I'll get the small tight groups on a practice target. There is a lot more to shooting better than just being well rested though. Training and conditioning for a shooting competition requires a lot of mental conditioning as well as physical. Much like other sports, shooting is probably 95% mental.

In order to get all of the training aligned I need to take into account recovery periods, diet, sleep, travel time, and of course mental preparedness. I'll touch on the mental aspects in another post as there is a lot that you can't calculate as easily as something like physical recovery patterns. Any kind of physical training will result in the body needing to recover. If I work out with weights I will have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for about 72 hrs, knowing that, I won't be doing any major physical activity for at least 4 days before the match. Sleep is another one you can calculate to some degree -- though I've read no exact research or science into this, I'm going by my own experience with my own body - I know how much rest and sleep I need. I know this because I've done it daily for a few decades. ;)

As serious as all this talk of training sounds I still consider myself an "unlikely athlete". Competitive pistol shooting may not appear to be a very physical sport -- especially since one of the primary goals is really to minimize movement as much as possible to have the most accurate shot. I'd place it in a similar group to golf and archery. Ultimately all of these sports require physical and mental conditioning in order to create repeatable physical routine.

I say "unlikely athlete" because at first glance I don't think anyone would expect to call me that.

I do know that if I want to make my performance better I will need to make my mind and body better.

When I get back from Nationals I am going to find some time to add to this website so it's not quite so generic. I'll be training for an event in September. During that next month I'd like to provide a more detailed view into my training activities so it is easy to browse and monitor progress.

If you have any specific questions you want me to answer please don't hesitate to send me a comment on http://www.allanharding.com/.
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