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Being in Flow

On our recent Argentina trip, I found myself on the third day of the pigeon hunt not shooting very well.  I guess that’s an understatement of my inability to hit anything. After shooting doves for four days and shooting them very well, then two days of shooting pigeons very well, the third day of pigeons was very frustrating. I had some soul searching to figure out what had happened.

We have been reading a book called “Golf Flow” by Gio Valiante and as Gil and I were talking about it, it occurred to me that I was not in Flow. This means my body and mind were not going at the same speed.

As I reflected on the day, I felt myself after many misses getting frustrated, then thinking about the shot and trying to make the shot better by being more careful. Then I would go too fast to the birds, miss again, and the process began again. Not pretty!

My poor bird boy didn’t know what to think as I became more out of control of what I was doing. My self-talk became unhelpful and ugly, so I finally just stopped and went to get a drink of water. The guide came and asked me if I was okay, and that I had more time to shoot more birds. “What I tell my students is if it’s working, keep doing it, and if it’s not, stop and rest,” I responded. So I stopped.

What did I learn from this? A lot.

I needed to remember that this was not a life or death situation (at least not for me, and apparently not for the pigeons that day) and to stop putting all the negative emotion into not hitting the bird.

My negative emotions had overtaken my normal calm and positive thought process. They became more about what was going on and how could I shoot 86 percent one day and 50 percent the next. It happens. And when I look back on how that overcame me and my body, I think it’s foolish to let that affect me. But it did and for a reason.

It seems this game of clays or hunting teaches us the lessons we need to learn at that particular moment. My moment of learning was to slow the process down because my brain was going too fast and outrunning my body. My thought process got so negative and irritated that I really went into a “funk” about not hitting the birds. I couldn’t think of anything except how poorly I shot and what the hell happened. Looking back I really understand what flow should feel like.

Every time I have been in flow or in the zone (whatever you want to call it), things slowed down and seemed effortless, like the previous days of shooting. But during the third day of pigeons, flow was not in the picture. It wasn’t until I walked away that I realized what had happened. Now I can realize what’s happening and stop it.

I can stop it either by walking away or changing my thought process to correspond with my body. That way panic doesn’t set in and I can get back to slow and smooth.

Shooting live birds in Argentina is a blast and doesn’t have to be hard and have your mind go in 18 different directions. It’s a sport, and we all need to remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Argentina is too expensive a trip not to have fun.