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As you get better your time perception changes!

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I was going to suggest searching the forums for topics on "The Zone." Then I realized I've kept copies of most of the stuff I've posted on that topic.

I'll add them here as separate posts.

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How about we define the "Zone."


It is difficult to define "the zone" because the zone experience defies logical explanation, in the way we are used to defining things. Things we normally say such as - "this happened (to me)." or "I did this and that was the result," fail to capture the significance of the zone experience. This is because the zone experience is quite unlike our normal way of experiencing the world, in which subject and object are sharply defined. In contrast, the zone experience is felt more as a collapsing or merging of our subjective vs. objective method of perceiving.


Reflecting on it afterwards, words like “absorption” or “merging” describe what the experience felt like. It's a state in which the actor and action merged completely; there's not a trace of the feeling of "someone doing something." It felt like there was something being done but there was no one doing it. Many also agree that the zone experience is characterized by a sense of effortlessness, and that everything slowed down and "got bigger." 


I think most (who have experienced it) will agree that is a state or experience that "occurs," often when least expected. "Least expected" is key, because it implies you were not trying anything at all, so you weren't expecting anything. The experience becomes all the more illusive because the first reaction upon emerging from the zone is to try and remember precisely what you were thinking just before it happened, so you can "do it" again. After enough times of watching my mind try to remember what I was thinking (before the experience) and then coming up empty, I realized that I never would be able to remember anything (in order to help me repeat the experience) - because there were no thoughts to remember. 


Our body has the capacity to remember sensations - thoughts, images, feelings - but since we're accustomed to thinking about everything we do in life, thinking has become our primary method of responding to life's challenges. The cool thing about experiencing the zone state is that you are coerced, in a way, to acknowledge that there are other ways of solving problems than by thinking about them.

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The Zone... A little more...


quote name='Zoomy' timestamp='1365102891' post='1907322']

I was feeling down by the last stage and my mind was probably already out the door when the start beep went off. 



You stopped caring, which allowed you to enter what is often called the "Zone."


And this desire: " What did I do because I want to keep doing it?" ... Is the question that will pervent that from happening again.


When the Zone state overtakes us, and then when we come out of it, it's common to not be able to remember most of the details of what actually happened. So our natural first response is to ask, "Wow - that was awesome - how can I do it again?"


When in the Zone, the actor and the action have merged into one activity. In that state there is nothing to remember because the usual sense of "me" doing "this or that" has been suspended. If you examine what we call "memory" carefully, you will find that for anything to be remembered, you have to conscious of your self, as the entity that is "remembering," at the time the experience occurred.


It's not important to understand any of that.


For the Zone state to overtake us, a couple of conditions have to be met.


The most basic one being that we have the capacity (from training) to successfully execute the demands the stage will require.


Then, before the buzzer, there cannot be any form of trying or caring, both gross and subtle, whatsoever.

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The Zone, again...


The zone is a magical-like state characterized by precise, effortless activity, and appears when all forms of trying have ceased. Even subtle realms of will involve effort, and all types of effort prevent the appearance of the zone.


We’re left with the paradoxical question – how do we get into the zone? I don’t believe we can get into the zone. The zone overtakes us, when the conditions are favorable for "it" to occur. So we can’t talk about entering the zone, we can only talk about what prevents the zone from overtaking us.


If I say that any form of effort obscures the zone, and you wonder whether or not that’s true, your job becomes one of examining what is meant by “effort,” and how that relates to you.


Effort implies struggle, and struggle indicates a lack of complete understanding. When we are uncertain, there’s doubt, and when there’s doubt, we try. Although we’re not normally aware of when we are uncertain, trying is doubts constant companion, and, trying is mentally oberservable.


So at all times while dry-firing, practicing, or before shooting a stage in a match, examine your mind for trying. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to get a fast draw, not drop too many points, call your shots, shoot A’s, or not shoot yourself or the range officer? ;) All those indicate uncertainty, do they not?


But it’s impossible just to not try. So you must replace trying with doing, which comes from knowing. But you won’t do that until you’ve examined sufficiently, thought about things sufficiently, practiced sufficiently, turned over every stone and looked in every nook and cranny for traces of doubt, uncertainty, and trying.


You must study your draw until you have no doubts about it. 

What are the quickest, most consistent and efficient movements required to produce perfectly aligned sights, every time? Do the same with the mag change. Just understanding these two activities may take years of work.


Down to the fundamentals: You must know where each shot went at the instant if fired. As a shooter, that is the most important thing you will ever do. (And I heard Robbie say that once to a student, totally unsolicited. So it must be true. ;) If you are not absolutely without doubt about that statement, you need to keep training and investigating until you are. How and what do you need to see in order to always be certain of each shot? (“Shot certainty” has nothing to do with whether or not it was a good or bad shot.) And it’s not just “what” you need to see, because what you see visually is not unrelated to your mental state, right? If you’re rushing, not only are you uncertain about what you should be doing, but you’re probably not going to see or hit much.


Examine how the activities of practicing and competing relate, and how they don’t relate. There are many things you can train in practice, which demand duplication in competition. In an IPSC match, however, how do you know what will be the fastest, most consistent way for you to shoot the stage? Not being uncertain may take years of experience. And not just experience in matches, but experience in all levels of matches. What doubts lurk at the Nationals but not at your home club?


In all realms, study and train until you replace doubt with certainty. Then when the going gets tough, stay true, and the zone may overtake you. (If it’s in the mood.)




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And related, "The Set."


I distinctly remember when the phrase "visual patience" came into my mind on the drive home from a Tuesday night steel match, long ago. I remember thinking - wow, that really sums it up.


The "last trick" I learned, which raised me to a higher and more consistent level, was to maintain a calm, aware state right through the buzzer, the draw stroke, and until I had the proper sight picture for the first shot. This state of awareness not only includes what I see mentally or visually, but how my body, mentally and physically, "feels" during that entire time. Maintaining total awareness during that one second or so after the buzzer is paramount for consistent success. 


Maintaining conscious bodily awareness at the beginning prevents me from unconsciously rushing at the buzzer. Don't make any attempt to control anything during that time, simply remain aware. 


Every planned detail, every form of control, should occur as you are mentally rehearsing exactly what you are going to do before you shoot. Then, silently maintaining a state conscious awareness allows your training, combined with your plan, to manifest as action. I call this "maintaining the set."


The Set

A set gathers things together, in this case – your training, clear intent (the totality of your plan), capacity, confidence, trust, determination, decisiveness, and conscious attention.


This is probably the most difficult thing I have ever tried to explain.


The set is a state of mental alertness or mental awareness that allows all of the topics mentioned above to express themselves.


The more and more I shoot and rehearse for stages, the more and more attention I direct toward the actual state of mind that I’m going to have, the actual way I am going to feel, not only as I start the stage, but as I move throughout the stage. I direct more attention to that matter than I do the actual visualization of the mechanics of the stage itself. To me that set, that state of mind, is what actually allows those things to be carried out. How am I going to feel the seeing?


I visualize what I am going to do, but don’t dwell on it near as long as I used to. The bottom time is the set; it’s what allows everything to be expressed. It allows you to be able to fluidly shift your focus to every area that is needed to get the job done in the best fashion, but it is not a focus on that, per se. It’s a focus on clarity.


Different people may feel that clarity in different places, although I think you’ll normally feel it in one of two places, either the forehead or stomach areas. I feel it in the center of my forehead, about an inch above my eyes. I can produce that feeling in my forehead that instantly stops the entire thought process and turns my attention so highly onto attention itself that there is no room for thought. Some people feel it in their stomach in an area two or three inches below the navel.


It takes an extreme amount of attention to maintain that state. As soon as your attention slips from maintaining it, you will find thoughts are back and your internal dialogue is rolling, controlling, and limiting you.


The set is an aware monitoring of your mental and physical state. It is critical because, if you start from an aware, attentive state, in which your muscles are set just right to do the job at hand - perfectly, with no extra effort – then, by monitoring and maintaining your attention, you ensure you never go "up,” thereby losing your “center.” The set is a method to maintain your center throughout the stage and throughout the match. If you start out  tense or rushing, it is very difficult to return yourself to a centered position while you are shooting. It is extremely difficult to do that; I have done it now and then, but it’s much easier to start from the proper frame of mind and then, by monitoring that, ensure that your mind doesn’t go anywhere else, ensure that you don’t create tension by unconsciously trying too hard.


As with many things, the best way to describe what something is, is to describe what it’s not. The set contains no feeling of effort or trying whatsoever. It is a very calm, very deliberate, very matter of fact mode of operation.


The set that you are feeling, is not only so much a feeling of awareness as it is a feeling of the whole attention level; the feeling of your mind and the feeling in your body. It is like a somatic, total body sensation of how you feel when you’re shooting. That feeling, that body feel, is learned in practice; the set is the feeling you have that encompasses all the feelings you have in your grip, arms, stomach, legs, mind, eyes and state of attention. It encompasses all those things into one body feeling. That total feeling is a lot easier to remember without using words than it is to try to think of a list of technical descriptions. When under pressure, no matter how big the strain is, the feeling of the set will not desert you like technical thoughts will. Thoughts are always a little behind the action. If you’re thinking your way through an act, you’ll notice your actions are "sticky."


I’ve had this experience many times and have talked to other shooters who also have had it, that upon completion of an extremely successful course of fire, you cannot remember what thoughts you had. It’s a natural tendency to want to think back and know what you did or what you were thinking to control such a good performance, but it’s that lack of thoughts that produces that lack of memory.


The lack of memory is the result of being in the set. By putting yourself in the most favorable condition to allow the ultimate expression of your capacity, that condition has very little to do with thought, so there is very little memory associated with it. So the bottom line really isn’t a bottom line; it’s that your attention always has to be attentive. It can never park itself in one place or get comfortable in one place, because that will only last for so long before the trick wears off.


The desire to remember what we were thinking as we were performing impeccably, when in fact there is nothing to remember, imposes a sense of uncertainty or fear in the mind. Enter trust. Through experience, we must learn to trust that if we maintain a state of conscious awareness and simply witness what is actually happening, the aforementioned topics will manifest themselves to your capacity.


A way that might help get into the whole feel of the set I’m describing would be if you were holding your pistol out in front of you and everything about your position felt the most perfect, relaxed and neutral as possible, then direct your mind to absorb your body’s feeling. Feel that set of how you’re holding right there. That total body feel also includes your mental feel, the feel of "relaxed and hard" or of "moving quickly but not in a hurry," "matter of fact," whatever means the most to you. No words! The attention necessary to hold that feeling does not allow words to surface.


The set allows your intent to be expressed at it’s highest, most complete level. The memory of the feeling is so total that it cannot be broken down. As soon as you try to categorize any particular part of it, you make it so complex that you destroy any hope of spontaneously creating it in the present.


You can see how your will functions while performing actions in your everyday life; it’s subtle and it’s hidden, but it’s always there. (By “will” I mean your desire backed by conviction, determination, and decisiveness.) If you’re alert to it, your will is directing your action simply by your intent or your desire to do that action in the most efficient manner necessary. In its natural state, your will asserts itself very spontaneously. When you drop your wallet, you reach and pick it up. If at that moment you are "present," the chances of not picking it up are slim. (Nor would have dropped it in the first place.) If you’re thinking random thoughts when you reach to pick it up, you may pick it up and drop it again. If you’re reaching for a doorknob, for example, and your hand slips off before the door opens, if you’re attentive to your thoughts you may notice you were somewhere else, your internal dialogue was running.


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On 6/16/2017 at 4:46 PM, MotorMouth said:

I've always thought this was the source of the saying: "slow down to get faster".  The observation being that as they get faster, time appears to move more slowly during the stage so they feel like they're slowing down, when in fact, they're not...  It doesn't necessarily mean you do things more slowly...


Think of your first match..  The nerves, the Adrenalin the excitement!   That made you feel like you were running at 100mph, heart rate up everything felt fast.   As you get better, shoot more etc. Things slow down because you loose some of that feeling and your more of in a relaxed state.  Imagine if you shot a 200inch deer everyday with a bow,  after a month, I doubt you would even be happy with it, or get the nerves as he comes walking in.    This was the only analogy I could come up with, sorry if it's not the best. 

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As you improve, the frequency of your ability to perceive increases.


.' )


That isn't important.  The important thing is to ignore what you think about time and your perception and maintain a strong visual patience while balancing everything else.  This will meter to your current shooting/perception/acuity/adeptness and make allow your body to do what it will.


Don't limit yourself by trying to perceive.  Perception already happens.  The moment you try to grasp it, you hinder yourself.

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