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LeviSS

Getting lost in stages / having to think too much about where to go.

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I just started shooting IDPA, and have 5 or 6 matches under my belt. Our matches are once a month. I plan on eventually shooting USPSA.

My problem is the buzzer going off, getting overwhelmed, and having to think about the order in which to shoot it. Tactical priority seems to give me trouble...if i mess it up, I just don't realize at the time that I shot the targets out of order.

Is this something that gets better/easier with experience?

How can I better prepare myself mentally for stages instead of going blank and on auto-pilot or having to pause and think?

I've been in the top 5 shooters every time, but I feel like if I could get the mental part improved, I'd be able to be significantly faster. Procedural errors and stutters have cost me stages.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I know in IDPA they tell you where to go and the order to shoot, but I feel like even in USPSA you need to have a plan and stick to it. I think I'd have some of the same problems.

Edited by LeviSS

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Do you close your eyes for a few minutes leading up to your turn and visualize your run from start to finish at exactly the realistic pace you'd like to run it? Once you have the entire stage memorized and you've mentally already shot it ten times in the last five minutes, shooting it for real is just like watching a movie you've already seen, you just have to move this time.

Oh yeah... USPSA

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Is this something that gets better/easier with experience?

Yes. :cheers:

And, as TTT said, visualize the entire COF before you shoot.

And, YES, USPSA - much more fun than IDPA. :bow:

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I have a hard time really being able to visualize it. I've tried, but its not been very helpful yet.

When you guys visualize is it as you'd see it through your eyes or like you're watching yourself do it?

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visualize, visualize, visualize ......

when there are 3 shooters in front of you it's time to go into match mode ....no more BSing with your buddies or staring at the 20 something in the shorty shorts or washing your pencils ....

go off to the side where you can be alone & visualize the stage over and over until its your turn to shoot. It certainly gets easier with practice but its not a hard skill to learn. Go to a major and watch the top shooters BEFORE its their turn to shoot .... they all do it. It's as important as looking at your sights when you pull the trigger ....

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Visual reference points. Your eyes will be open while shooting and moving. So why not pick things at eye level that you can use as figurative road signs. Edges of barrels, cover, ports, stakes in the ground, props, dirt marks, whatever.

But to back up a bit, if I told you a list of 6 items to go get at the store, could you remember them only hearing them once and only repeating them to yourself? I think you could. You then should be able to remember 6 shooting positions (which is far beyond the number you'll ever encounter in IDPA) or 6 cues for engaging target arrays (an not uncommon amount in USPSA stages).

Make yourself a road map. Be proactive through the stage. In your minds eye picture what you will actually be seeing. (not a third person view). Repeat. Once you are the in the hole shooter, it is time to be "selfish". No talking, no taping, no goofing off. Mental, verbal and visual rehearsal. On deck I just switch to breathing and positive reinforcement.

After that the conscious mind should not be in play. This will get better with time but you have to work at it. Exposure and repetition.

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You'll get better the more matches you shoot. Every one here has pointed out some good tips. But when the buzzer goes off, all bets are off. You might have a jam, have to make up shots, forget a target, etc. The only thing that can get you to where you want to be is more experience. Some of the things you worry about now will become muscle memory (like reloading, keeping your finger of the trigger, etc.). When that happens, you're going to be able to focus more on the course of fire and thinking on the fly when your plan gets derailed.

Edited by SayHelloToMyLittleFriend

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Thanks guys. I figured more experience would be a big part of it. I still get pretty nervous until the first stage is over, then I get calmed down.

I'll work on the visualization some. Maybe I could practice at home without the pressure..visualize and then see if I can perform it exactly the same.

I should be off weekends at work in January, so after that I could shoot 1 IDPA match and 2 USPSA matches a month. Right now I have to take vacation to shoot matches. That would help with the experience part.

I appreciate the advice so far! Any more?

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Thanks guys. I figured more experience would be a big part of it. I still get pretty nervous until the first stage is over, then I get calmed down.

I'll work on the visualization some. Maybe I could practice at home without the pressure..visualize and then see if I can perform it exactly the same.

I should be off weekends at work in January, so after that I could shoot 1 IDPA match and 2 USPSA matches a month. Right now I have to take vacation to shoot matches. That would help with the experience part.

I appreciate the advice so far! Any more?

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Thanks guys. I figured more experience would be a big part of it. I still get pretty nervous until the first stage is over, then I get calmed down.

I'll work on the visualization some. Maybe I could practice at home without the pressure..visualize and then see if I can perform it exactly the same.

I should be off weekends at work in January, so after that I could shoot 1 IDPA match and 2 USPSA matches a month. Right now I have to take vacation to shoot matches. That would help with the experience part.

I appreciate the advice so far! Any more?

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Yep, visualization is the key. I try to visualize each stage at least 10 times before shooting, from my POV. I visualize my sights lifting on each target, for the correct number of hits, in the correct target order; how refined the sight picture should be depending on the target difficulty; reloading at whatever reload points I planned, including seeing the mag go into the well; prop manipulation; entering each shooting position ready to shoot; loading the gun if there's a table start; etc.

Ideally, I'll repeat the visualization over and over again until I can run through the stage in my mind faster than I can shoot it in real life. Then, when the timer goes off, I can just focus on watching the sights and calling my shots.

A good rule of thumb I heard (maybe from Steve Anderson's podcast) is that if you've done a good job rehearsing a stage, then after the match, you should be able to accurately recreate that stage from memory in great detail.

Lately I've been practicing getting into the habit of using visualization during my dry fire practice. If I'm running a drill on a semi-complex array of targets, I'll go through the visualization process several times before shooting it.

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part of the reason you are nervous is because since you don't visualize you are anxious about the stage because you know you don't have it memorized .... it feeds on itself. Pressure is actually a good thing, it's how you handle it (or don't handle it) that turns it into something bad. You want to put pressure on yourseelf when you train otherwise you will develop into one of those legions of shooters whose match performance never comes close to their training performance ....

Edited by Nimitz

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I have a hard time really being able to visualize it. I've tried, but its not been very helpful yet.

When you guys visualize is it as you'd see it through your eyes or like you're watching yourself do it?

That varies with the person. But most do better by visualizing everything that you will see.

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I tried visualizing at my last match. I think it helped quite a bit.

I'm still having trouble seeing things in my head like they're real...I guess I don't have a good imagination.

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Get a book on visualization, and dedicate time to practice at home each day. If you can't create what you want to do in your mind beforehand, it probably won't happen.

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Get a book on visualization, and dedicate time to practice at home each day. If you can't create what you want to do in your mind beforehand, it probably won't happen.

Can you suggest one? I've read your book, but probably need to re-read it.

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Get a book on visualization, and dedicate time to practice at home each day. If you can't create what you want to do in your mind beforehand, it probably won't happen.

Can you suggest one?

Not really. WAY back, I read this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Visualization-Power-Imagination-Create/dp/1577312295

But at that time I wasn't really a believer in the power of visualization. It wasn't until many years later... One day at the range, I had a deep realization - if I didn't create exactly, in every detail, what I wanted to happen beforehand - there was not much chance that it would. I knew for certain then - learning to visualize was where I would spend a lot of my time.

Having a feeler's Temperamant, I learned to combine what I would see with how I knew I should feel at the time - to get my best performance. To get out of the gate without feeling paniced and rushing, I came up with what I called "The Set." I couldn't find it by searching ghe forums, but I did save a copy of it:

"The Set"

With an empty gun, without drawing, assume your index position. Take a moment and move your attention slowly up from your waist, through your chest, then up into your head, out through your arms and into your grip. Notice and remember the calm feeling you have in your mind and face, and your perfect grip and arm tension. Remember your mind, face, arm, and grip tension as one calm feeling. Call the totality of the feeling "The Set."
(Assigning a name to a group of remembered feelings makes it easier to summon The Set on demand.)
Now without a start beep, summon the feeling of The Set, and draw to your index position, keeping all of your attention on the feeling on the feeling of The Set throughout the draw.
Repeat drawing to The Set over and over, until are completely certain of its total feeling, and complete confident in your ability to draw to The Set. Make that a part of your daily practice.
Especially important is being aware of a feeling of total nuetrality in your grip, which is remembered as one feeling.
Then take The Set to the practice range. Allow yourself not to work on any other skills until you know you are always shooting within The Set.
At "Shooter Ready," exhale slightly, at "Stand By," summon the feeling of The Set ... and this is the key ... along with the command to preserve the feeling of The Set right through the buzzer and the draw - until the first shot fires.
The further hone your ability to summon The Set by repeating the above at the beginning of each stage in every match.
If a stage has movement, train to summon The Set as you move into each new position.
Once my skill set was complete, summoning The Set was all I cared about.

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During one chapter of my life I was a performing musician. There is the equivalent of the shooter's "Set" when picking up the instrument and getting ready to play in front of a crowd. It is a feeling You go to it every time, it's a big part of your bread and butter.

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Increasing the size of the chunks you deal with in visualization is a big part of it. This comes with thousands of repetitions burning the motions into your subconscious. There are a lot of steps in a reload, and when you're new to shooting your conscious mind needs to process the details. But eventually those motions become subconscious, and the reload just happens. This greatly reduces conscious mental load. The same applies to position entries, aiming and different targets, etc.

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OP, I used to have the same problem as you do. Visualization helps, but only to certain degree for me. Even after I got my Master in SSP I still sometimes forget targets in some stages, stages with true vision barriers most of the times, and especially when I am the first or second shooter for the stage.

I find mesh walls are much easier to deal with simply because you can see through, while true solid walls/objects can be really hazardous for me. Now I visualize 40 times before my turn (I heard Max M. usually visualizes a stage 30 times to be sure). Yet I think some brains are wired a bit differently such that without truly going through it at least once for real, visualization alone is not the silver bullet.

IDPA makes it worse because you cannot air gun the stages as in USPSA. I really don't have any effective way to imprint stage execution into my brain at this point of time. As a result, my conscious mind often walks away from purely shot calling to help facilitate state execution, which is not optimal. I know 10,000 repetitions can product enough myelin and then your subconscious will take over from there. However, in reality when you have 3 min to walk the stage and maybe 1-2 min more time before the buzzer goes off, 30-40 visualizations are probably the most you can squeeze in there. It also shows memory capability is a major factor in this sport.

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... It also shows memory capability is a major factor in this sport.

That's what I'm afraid nof...my memory sucks. Lol.

Thanks for all the help. It's much appreciated. I'm going to keep practicing the advice everyone's given and hope it becomes more natural.

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Get a book on visualization, and dedicate time to practice at home each day. If you can't create what you want to do in your mind beforehand, it probably won't happen.

Can you suggest one? I've read your book, but probably need to re-read it.

With Winning In Mind by Lanny Bassham. Covers visualization and every other aspect of the mental game ....

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I can remember what I had for breakfast today.

I think I remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.

I can clearly viualise a 31 round stage I shot on Sunday.

I can recall and relatively easily visualise 5 of 7 stages I shot Sunday 2 Weeks ago.

I can recall and visualise stages I shot at national and state titles 12 and 18 months ago.

Is this common to other shooters?

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