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1st stage nervousness ...how to shrug it off?

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Lug it> you are pointing out a very important thing to practice. Every training activity should be mentally treated like a one time only "real deal". Every shot or activity should be treated like its your only opportunity to get the job done to the best of your ability. When you start doing that then your practice closely emulates what is required during a stage run in a match.

If you are practicing with a different mindset than what you compete with then how can you expect to perform properly in a match environment?

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"Lately I've been doing some pre-visualization and then shooting the first stage at about 80% of my normal speed. I end up get better hits to start the match, and the day seems to flow much better afterwards.

It's worked for me to simply not start the match at hyper-speed. Maybe I'm like an old car that needs to warm up a little."

What if you stopped actively controlling your speed?

How would you know how fast to go?

And Cha-lee

"If you are practicing with a different mindset than what you compete with then how can you expect to perform properly in a match environment?"

The Match mindset is one of three that I like to practice in. For Newbs, it is for sure the most important one. For aging, formerly rusty GMs, it can be dangerous. How's that for a can o' worms? :)

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A good friend of mine, who is a very accomplished shooter, has said many times that his first stage is often the best one during a big match. I've watched my own performance in light of his comment and can say that seems to be true for me also. There's just the right mix of stress, activation, physical freshness, and interest to get the job done well. I do, however, view the first stage as a separate match from the rest of the stages. On the first stage, I really, really, really focus on the front sight. Something I suppose should be done all of the time. ha, ha, ha....

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I'm taking a break from shooting, and haven't shot a match since September. When I get back to it, I wonder if I'll experiece the 1st stage nervousness again. It took about a year to get over it the 1st time around. I guess like Paul said, I'll just embrace it. Who knows when I can get back to shooting, but just reading this topic, I'm getting nervous again. As much as I didn't like the 1st stage nervousness before, now I kind of miss it.

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I shoot the day before the match so I am not absolutely cold on match day.

My 1st stage I try to hit all As and then I carry that confidence on to the next stages. Simple.

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Just being confident in what you are about to do is huge. I don't think there is any way at all to have your shooting ability meet up with your future performance if you don't believe you can do it when the RO tells you to make ready.

Nervousness to me is a little dude on my shoulder whispering to me "you can't really do this". Get rid of that guy and there is nothing to be nervous about, just confidence in your ability.

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Before our gov't labeled me a criminal for playing on-line poker I was playing 5 nights a week with over 300 tournaments/year. One of the important concepts I was taught very early was always make sure you win the first pot you play. Besides giving you that early confidence it assured that you would be forced to play more conservatively which happens to be very important in the early stages of a tournament.

Similarly, I try to shoot the first stage very deliberately and really force myself to go 'a little slower' than I know I can. Having a good first stage really sets me up to shoot the match well ...

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The stadium packed, crowd cheering him on. He steps to the starting position. The range officer calls range hot. The crowd goes quiet as he loads an makes ready. The buzzer goes off. The crowd on their tiptoes as he negotiates the stage till the last shot fired. "Unload and show clear..." Time is called, the CROWD GOES WILD! The band marches the stadium, cheerleaders jumping flips. A group of attractive young lady's on the sideline screaming his name, lifting their shirts to expose themselves in hope for a glance of his attention.

Hey, it might be cheese ball, but you'll only ever see me smiling the first stage. And second, and third.....

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Another thing I have learned that when your all jacked up (being nervous) you usually tend to push faster than normal and get ahead of the gun. So being aware of that on match day I try and shoot 85-90% of my max speed and really shoot more points. This allows me the freedom inside my pea brain to relax and just shoot the targets. Match day 95-100% is usually more like 110-120% which can be a disaster.

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I seem to always make a stupid mistake on the 1st stage. Sometimes it costs me a procedural or points down. I am fine after that. What do you do to shrug off those beginning of the match jitters?

i get to the range early, find an empty bay and put 20 or so rounds into the berm -- no target. takes the edge off for me.

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I'm a newbie at shooting sports (all 3 gun so far) but I love that nervous feeling you get. Makes me feel alive. Post 40 there really aren't many sports that can give me the same feeling as when that buzzer goes off! I'm sure over time I will won't to find ways to calm it down to post better times but right now I love that feeling and having a great time. For me thats what it is all about (for now).

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Another thing I have learned that when your all jacked up (being nervous) you usually tend to push faster than normal and get ahead of the gun. So being aware of that on match day I try and shoot 85-90% of my max speed and really shoot more points. This allows me the freedom inside my pea brain to relax and just shoot the targets. Match day 95-100% is usually more like 110-120% which can be a disaster.

I know I'm coming way late into this thread, but PaulW's comment really captures what I've noticed with my own performance so far. I'm just getting started and what one of the more senior people who was teaching my intro to action shooting class has stuck with me. I wish I could remember the exact qoute, but essentially he said your brain is going to turn to oatmeal right after that buzzer goes off.

I've found that to be the case with my first round also. The buzzer goes off and I push myself to go too fast. The last first stage I did was an action steel match at USA in Frostproof. I briefly stepped over the red boundary on my first stage because I was literally moving to fast to stop before I went over and I also wasn't shooting all that great because I wasn't concentrating enough on my front sight. Rounds 2 forward were much better.

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This is a great thread. I see it started long ago however it is helpful to me. I just came back from a major match where I was so nervous I blew the three stages I did get to shoot then got dq'd on my fourth stage, mostly because I was nervous and trying to go too fast. When your that nervous it's not really much fun. I think part of the problem is I'm very competitive at shooting and I don't want to look bad in front of all my shooting buds. I wish it was only my first stage that I had the jitters but it takes several stages to relax for me. I'm going to work on relaxing and just having fun.

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I walk, stretch, jump around, talk to much, sometimes pushups if I'm really pumped up. No coffee, no 5 hour, no energy drinks.

When I'm up, I take many deep deep breaths and think smooth, smooth, all A's. Then the beeper goes ------- LOL

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I believe first stage jitters are normal. The first stage is when you worry on your draw, grip, your sights, your flinch, your transitions, getting DQ'd etc,.

I get over it by just not expecting too much from myself and just letting things happen. When the RO says load and make ready, All I focus on and think about is where the first port is and the number of boards and plates in it. the rest follows.

Normally, the first stage is always my best stage. I always blow it on the last stages due to fatigue, boredom and over confidence.

End of the day, I got to do what I enjoy doing and I look forward to next week.

Edited by davidwebb

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Just see the sights. I had that issue for a long time, but before the buzzer I had to tell myself to just see the sights.

Amen this was a game changer for me, I am currently writing it on my hand so it is the last thing I see before a stage.

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I guess until reading this, I didn't know so many people go through the same thing and in some way that kind of helps. I have found recently doing some dry fire at the table has helped a little.

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I agree with just see the sights. I swear, if I just SEE THE SIGHTS about 99 percent of my mental errors are resolved. The sights are like a lighthouse or a land beacon. They are THE TRUTH!

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It's normal. Even in any other sports and even the pros are tense and nervous on the beginning of the ball game. But as the game goes on or in our sports as the timer ticks on you slowly shrug it off once your mind focus on what it needs to do. The more match you shoot, the more you developed your shooting skills and the more confident you are the less time your mind will spend worrying at the beginning of the match.

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Shoot Matter of fact, the first stage. Staying behind the sights. Then open up as the match gooes on.

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I like to down a few shots before the match to get a bit loose & on an even keel.

The other thing I'm working on is a pre-buzzer mantra for me, for every stage not just first stage. It will probably be something like 'be smooth - see the front sight', but, counterintuitively "I am behind - this needs to be my best stage all day" seems like it is helping me to focus, possibly replacing nervous thoughts with thoughts about the need to execute? . If memory serves I think Benos had a mantra that he shared either on this forum or in his very excellent book. I was not serious about the shots.

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