JE: How should you prepare if you are a serious sport shooter of field target?
HM: If you are a serious sport shooter – really dedicated to the sport – you have to differentiate between the mind and body, and you have to get them both fit. You can be physically fit and not mentally fit. Shooting is 70-80% brain, and 20-30% physical.
JE: How do you get physically fit for shooting?
HM: If you are going to cock a spring gun 180 times over three days, you need to build up stamina. Of course, you have to cock and shoot your gun, but one of the best ways to build stamina is to take long, brisk walks. No running, jumping, just long brisk walks. They are excellent to build stamina for long days of shooting.
JE: What’s next?
HM: Once you start your physical fitness program, you need to attend to your brain. That means keeping it busy, nimble, and fast; making sure your brain and your eyes are geared toward detecting things in the outside world. Excellent exercises for the brain are those puzzles where you have two pictures and you have to detect the differences between them. That helps to train the mind to see the sight picture, the wind, the difference in light, and will help get your brain geared towards not only looking but actually seeing things.
JE: What else?
HM: Once you get your body and brain fit, you have to feed them properly, so a good diet is very important: one-third protein, one-third vegetables, and one-third grains, all as unprocessed as possible. You also have to take care of your eyes. They are the main data-gathering instruments. Make sure your glasses have the right prescription; wear sunglasses in bright sunlight, and protect your eyes with goggles in a shop.
JE: What about actual shooting practice?
HM: Practice 30-50 shots dry fire every day. Practice 10-20 one-handed pistol shots two or three times a week, that builds your trigger control. Finally, at least 20 times a week, practice a complete shot cycle. By that, I mean: plump the bum bag, sit down on it, mount your rifle, close your eyes, wiggle around a little, then, open your eyes and see if you are naturally aligned to the target. If not, correct your position, close your eyes, wiggle, and open your eyes to check your position again, repeat if necessary. Range the target, take the shot, and get up again. Repeat that over and over until getting into the proper position, perfectly aligned to the target, is a matter of muscle memory. A lot of shooters have no clue whether they are naturally aligned to the target or not.
JE: Do you do anything to prepare your pellets?
HM: Yes, I wash and lube them. I use Krytech often for PCP pellets and Pledge for springers . . . I bake the pellets for three minutes in a toaster oven dedicated for the purpose. You have to experiment with lubes to see what works best for a particular barrel.
JE: Anything else?
HM: Yes, you have to go to a lot of matches. That’s because if you are serious about being competitive, you can’t train for the mind game aspect of what goes on in the background of matches, and the psychological aspect of matches plays a heavy role in the outcome; if you are a hobby shooter you will have a very good time, experience some fine sportsmanship, very high levels of camaraderie and, I am sure, lifelong friendships will be established.
Till next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott