Pre-match Jitters

Ben BerryBlogLeave a Comment

It’s Friday night. You’re shooting a match tomorrow. And you’re scared of something. Whatever it is, you can’t fix it before tomorrow. But, if you really dig deep and figure out what’s got you scared, you can fix it before it happens the next time.

Maybe you’re just generally nervous about the match. You’ve shot matches before so it’s not the first timer’s jitters, but you just can’t shake the feeling that you’re anxious. You’ve packed your bag, you’ve chamber checked all the ammo, the guns are spotless, the magazines are already loaded. The car is packed, the coffee is set to go, you alarm will wake you up in time to hit the road and get there an hour early to walk the stages. But you’re still on edge.

Because you know you’re not ready. You know you haven’t practiced as much as you would have liked. You are afraid of tomorrow because you don’t know what will happen.

When you practice enough, you stop being afraid. You become confident. You know what tomorrow’s going to be. It’s going to be a long day, and it’s going to take focus and hard work. You won’t cruise through laughing and joking, but it doesn’t scare you either. You know your ability and you’re comfortable with it. So tomorrow doesn’t make you nervous.

Or maybe you’re scared because it might rain tomorrow. Good. Everyone else hates the rain. If you can just not care, not let it rattle you, not let it get in your head, you’re now half a lap ahead of everyone else before the race starts.

The rain could make the footing slippery? Okay. So could anything else. Traction is never guaranteed at a match. But whatever the conditions are, everyone is going to shoot in them. So you are only at a disadvantage if you let yourself think you are. Everyone else is thinking that way, so at worst you’re on par with them. But if you just don’t react and just show up and shoot, then you’re already starting with a leg up.

Don’t get me wrong. You should prepare for the rain. When I say don’t react, I don’t mean don’t act. I mean don’t react. Don’t give up the initiative and be caught playing catchup.

Rain does present some logistical concerns. You need a jacket. You need a towel. You need a brush or cloth to clean your mags. Even if you’ve never shot a match in the rain before, you can take a guess at what you’ll need. Bring that stuff. Be observant of what other people have at the match. Think to yourself what you wish you had right then. Make notes. When you get home from the match, whether it rained or not, go online and start buying stuff off that list. It could rain again next weekend, or it could go six months before you want to shoot a match in the rain.

But when that next rainy match comes, you’ll be ready. You’ll think “Haha, I’m prepared for this.” In fact, the longer the gear goes unused, the greater your sense of satisfaction will be for thinking ahead so long ago. Planning a week ahead is cool. Planning six months ahead is basically psychic.

So when that rainy day comes, you pull out your rain gear and you go to the match. At that point, you don’t even really care if it rains. You’re prepared either way.

You’re not hoping anymore. You’re just ready for whatever match day presents.

But you can’t do that tonight. You’re as ready as you’re going to be for tomorrow’s match.

Tomorrow’s match doesn’t really matter, though. Whether you win it or lose it, nothing really changes. Tomorrow changes nothing unless you use it to change yourself, your practice, your planning. If you use tomorrow’s match to learn and to prepare for the match next month, the section match in six months that you really want to do well at. Tomorrow’s match is just the stepping stone.

So if you’re not prepared for tomorrow, good. Learn from it. Prepare for the next one.

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