The one trait that seems to be common among all successful competitors is the ability to stay calm under pressure, which leads to the ability to think clearly and act according to a plan – to stay process-oriented instead of outcome-oriented.
We use the phrase “process-oriented” when referring to this mental state of mind. It has a calming effect on the brain, and it starts with a calm mind. The evolution of this calm state of mind is one of trial and error, successes and failures. Each individual begins in different ways, but as they mature into experienced shooters, they all develop a calm mindset that allows for clear thinking under immense pressure.
When you are shooting well and things are going your way, it is easy to stay loose and really enjoy the contextual high of your brain, figuring out all the presentations automatically and executing the process flawlessly.
But then something changes. You drop three on an eight-bird station. And what is worse, you don’t know where you were or why you missed them, which increases the self-talk. Then you are not quite as loose as you were before.
Remember that shooters in this game love to compete. They have a really strong will to win, and have elevated their game to a point that they kill everything within 28-30 yards, and get their share of the others.
In the situation we just described, it is easy for shooters to dwell on the failure on the last station. But the winners learn from it and move on, and leave the misses behind them in the cage, maintaining a calm quiet mind. Most shooters, given the last example, would let that last stand affect the rest of their day by overreacting to the failure.