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Smitty79

Technique in Visualization

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Do you think about your technique when you do your pre-stage visualization?

I'm a newly minted B shooter. My most recent match with the first match where I beat all of the C shooters at the match. So I'm still a bit new.

Everything I've read and heard on podcasts points towards having a simple final thought just before the beep. I don't think anyone recommends thinking about your draw technique at "shooter ready".

When I'm doing my visualization between the walk through and my turn to shoot, I focus on running the stage and seeing the sight picture on each target.

I am wondering if I shouldn't visualize the technique I intend to use for any complex things I intend to do. For example, running up range while reloading and coming around a wall.

Do you think about more things in visualization, especially technique, than you do during the stage?

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I'm just a B, and I just try to remember where all the targets are, which are

tougher than others (have to be careful I don't miss or hit a no-shoot)

and where I should reload.

If I ever learn to completely visualize the COF, maybe I'll make A ??

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Visualize everything, and imitate your plan during your walkthrough. Simulate reloads as you would do them, eyes focused on magwell. Etc, etc.

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The more detail the better. When I get done with a stage I try and go back and visualize it again while I am loading mags. Then I get to create the movie with real data. I think it is helping me learn to visualize better.

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When I do my walk through I visualize the crisp front sight on the target and make believe I'm firing two shots into the A. After I've walked the stage a few times I go back, close my eyes, and run the stage visualizing every sight picture on ever target. If I get to a point in the visualization that I can't see a target or forget, I stop and go walk the stage again. Rinse and repeat till I get it. It's to the point now that on most stages I can walk it a few times and then have it down. Now, following that plan perfectly doesn't always happen :) but it gets better each time I shoot!

My final thoughts are usually "crisp clean front sight only in the A zone" or something close to that.

Besides the shooting part, stage planning was the hardest thing for me. What I described above is the best way I've found to remember it.

If you can't visualize every step, every shot, every reload, your not ready to shoot.

Edit: I've also found it super beneficial to NOT watch ANY other shooters especially open/ limited (I shoot production). I want to only remember my plan. I focus on me and no one else. Some times I'll even turn around and visualize MY plan while someone else is shooting and I just use their shots as I run my plan in my head. Only works with shooters of close skill and division.

Edited by ShortBus

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My final thoughts are usually "crisp clean front sight only in the A zone" or something close to that.

A bit too long and not always true. There are times I barely see my gun between me and the target, there are times when all I see is the top of the sight lined up with the back sight. It is very target dependent.

For me there needs to be a point when I understand I have the stage down give in to it. At that point I don't think about the stage anymore.

After MR and before AYR I repeat "call your shots" to myself while getting ready.

After Standby, I find something to visually focus on, empty my mind and listen for the beginning of the beep. After the beep I try to just watch what is happening.

Can't do it all the time but........

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The key to successful visualization is not to think about anything at all while you are visualizing. Just see it all happening in your mind.

Depending on your skill level, you may not have to visualize some movements... You may not need to visualize the draw, for example, if you have the draw stroke down pat. In that case, the first thing you might visualize is a perfectly centered sight alignment on the first target.

Even if you have your draw dialed, say there is a funky start position - your gun hand is holding a rope that is on the opposite side of your body. In that situation the first part of my visualization would be to see my hand coming around the front if my body to get a nice smooth grip on the pistol... Then a perfectly centerd alignment on the first target.

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I love it, just like turning left at a light when you are having a conversation and not even thinking about turning left. I have experienced it on some occasions at the range and i have felt it, to do it all the time is the challenge. It is the perfect "in the zone" shooting, totally letting your mind do it. It reminds me of a wingshooter telling me, your eyes are way smarter than your brain will ever be.

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I've been seeing good results from really working on visualizing a perfect run on my consistency in practice and matches. Having one or two just awful stages per match has really been an issue for me this year and I'm hoping this helps. Here is how I've been doing it:
1. See it in my mind, eyes closed, exactly as if I was seeing with my eyes. Arms, gun, surroundings, sights, targets. Seeing each target, from each position, seeing the gun recoil and return, seeing the sights where I want them on each target, seeing fast movement, fast transitions.
2. Feeling it all happen. Remember from good practices and matches what it feels like to be spot on, in the zone. Running, gunning. So now while doing step one I add it all the other senses to make it feel complete.
3. Smile. Enjoy the moment. I remind myself this is fun, that I like it. That I'm good at this. Associating as many positive statements as possible to seeing and feeling my performance.

You also mentioned thinking about your draw/technique. If you're going to do this keep it as simple as possible. "Firm grip" "Acceptable Sight Picture" "Run and stop smoothly" ect

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... your eyes are way smarter than your brain will ever be.

Good one!

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Visualization is the process of seeing yourself running the COF I do it from my viewpoint so I see the sights on the target, movement, reloads etc... Do this in detail while others are shooting.

Before you take up the start position close your eyes and visualize the whole COF but nothing really detailed just locating the targets (in your mind) and seeing each position but try not to think of the "details" of the actions.

The "final thought before the beep" is not part of the visualization process. At that point relax, focus on the first thing you will be doing but don't "think" if you can help it. Let your mind relax. To me it feels like I'm floating or hovering in suspension. Probably focus more on breathing if you need to free up your mind.

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When I am stage planning I break each stage up into sections and then assign those sections a marker. That marker is the part of that section that is the hardest. I quickly store the easy parts of a stage, things that are more muscle memory. So instead of thinking of the stage as one big mess I can focus on each part individually. It helps with that overwhelming feeling you can get when you come across a big stage. When I am on the line I simply step through each section remember my markers and execute.

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Ever so often I feel feel and see as if everything goes into slow motion. Perfect sight picture. How to accomplish this all the time is the struggle. I don't even no how to practice this mode of eye and brain connectivity. But I sure like it when it happens!

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I found a couple old posts I made on your topic / question...

The Zone:

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.)
;)

 

The Zone, defiined:

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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I think, when you're "in the zone" things go on around you that you are oblivious to.  Things that would normally catch your attention or cause a reaction.  Not important things, but trivial things compared to what the focus of your mind/body is working to accomplish.

I was coaching a guy with an M1A at a range one day.  We were shooting pop up targets at ranges from 200 to 400 yds.  They popped up in different places at different distances and he was all about identifying and knocking down targets.

I big old horse fly came out of the brush/trees to his left and lit on his fore head, just above his eyebrows and began to walk around.  I kept waiting on him to rear up and brush his hand at it but he didn't.  He'd fire.  The muzzle blast from the M1A would cause the horse fly to take off and fly in an erratic pattern out in front of him.  Erratic in how smooth the flight was and in the circle it flew out and then back to his forehead.  I again waited on him to reach up and brush the horse fly away as it walked around on his forehead. 

He shot again and once more the horse fly left his head to fly an even more erratic pattern in front of him before coming back to his forehead.  I watched this repeat 5 times till at last the horsefly's erratic flight pattern (it got worse with every shot) resulted in it flying into the grass out in front of the firing line.

When his stage was over I asked him about the horsefly and he looked at me funny and said, "What horsefly?" 

Something that you would normally feel/notice immediately and react to was completely unnoticed by him while watching for the pop ups and firing on them.

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Its been 10 years ago since I competed but was a fairly competitive M class. As I'm making my way back to USPSA I've been thinking alot about this topic.  After burning the stage in and all the necessary preliminary memorization I would try to inoculate myself to those most stressful moments of the stage that can interrupt your flow by dry running them hard. For instance, if I had to come into a shooting position hard I would actually do that in dry fire and then commit that feeling to memory.   I'd run that stage, including the expected emotions, in my mind until I had no uncertainty.   The simple, single thought I would invoke was "front sight" and I would repeat it over and over prior to the beep.  I visualized the front sight prior to the beep and I knew that If I actually tracked the front sight I wouldn't outrun myself and blow up the stage. That confidence made me very calm. 

Only twice did the "zone" find me. I remember distinctly seeing everything in my vision tunnel crystal clear and thinking in a strangely detached way that my gun was running sooo slow and calling my shots was so effortless. I truly believe that if the zone could be invoked at will you'd be unbeatable.  

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I once saw someone post something like "have you seen so-and-so when he's ready to shoot?  He looks like he's thinking about a ham sandwich."

Not so much anymore, but for a long time I did that.  If I felt like I had over thought something or found myself thinking about one particular part of a run. I would attempt to clear all those thoughts away by actually picturing that darn ham sandwich.  Sometimes I'd say it out loud.  The RO probably thought I was crazy mumbling about food, but it helped.

Now a days, I can perform the same non-overthinking without having to do that.  And alas... I pass the ham sandwich onto you. 

Edited by Glock26Toter

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If you're good at stage planning then concentrate on your own plan. Don't look at others and there ideas once you have an established plan. Walk it through and visualize sights, reloads, and movement. Then close your eyes and visualize it all again. When you're on deck visualize it all over again. Clear your mind and get ready to shoot.

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I shoot production and normally focus my concentration up to the 3rd reload. I visualize the sight picture only on the targets associated with the 1st mag and and everything else falls in line with remaining mags. I focus on entering and exiting movements, body positioning and foot work for the first 3 mags. The course is often less complex with the 4th, 5th or 6th mag and require less focusing.

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This is all really good stuff, especially Enos's old post. The only other addition I think I can add would be that after "Make Ready" I then go thru the visualization one more time (some RO's at local matches get annoyed by this but I figure they will get over it) and then I try to smile right before the beep. The smile idea came from a Max Michel class. I believe he suggested it for two reasons, one is because it's hard to be stressed or nervous when you are smiling and the other is to help blank your mind out by giving you something to think about other then shooting since you really want your subconscious mind to be shooting the course for you.

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Really good tips here.
Need to try the smile idea. I tend to subconsciously tense up my neck/shoulders & clench my jaw right before the beeper goes off. I’m thinking “stage plan, stage plan”. Apparently it makes me so stiff, I don’t flow well through the stage.

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Visualization is a good thing not only for shooting but indeed it`s vital to keep an image of your target inside your head, that`s what I agree with ))

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"Everyone can shoot". Working on setups, getting in and out of positions and foot work seem to be improving my game. Especially on those tough positions hitting your mark and being in the correct spot is most important IMO. I'm only a B class shooter so take it as you will. 

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