The Chains of Habit
July 28, 2023
Our study into skill building and mental processing reveals an interesting facet: our past heavily colors our perception and reaction to present experiences. Our brain develops filters based on our past, affecting how we respond to future events. This understanding is crucial in reshooting sports.
The fear that grips many shooters is often rooted in the concern of others’ opinions about their performance. Here’s a revelation: scores shouldn’t be the yardstick for self-judgment, nor should they be for others. Worrying about external perceptions is a futile exercise.
British writer Samuel Johnson once said, “The chains of habit are too light to be noticed until they are too heavy to be broken.” This adage rings true in shooting. The goal is to cultivate habits that you can rely on, both in competition and in the field. These habits are formed through deliberate repetition, gradually becoming ingrained, automated responses in our brains.
The mental aspect, while crucial, is only one part of the equation. Skill building is fundamentally about repetition. It’s not merely about doing the same thing over and over, but about ensuring that each repetition is as close to perfect as possible. This precision in repetition teaches the brain the sequence of actions required, eventually leading to automaticity.
Many shotgunners practice by merely going through the motions: loading, calling for the target, chasing it down, and attempting to correct the shot at the last moment. However, without a planned and consistent method, self-correction becomes an elusive goal. This type of practice is not just ineffective; it’s a squandered opportunity.