Thursday, October 8, 2015

having a plan and sticking to it when shooting

Hello blog readers this post could potentially get very long and detailed but I have some shooting technique that I think works incredibly well and I need to write it down so that in time to come I do not forget those hard to come by "secrets" that I have learned throughout my career as a biathlete.

A friend and teammate once told me there are two types of people that are good at biathlon those who are to dumb enough to not come up with any thoughts other then what their coach tells them and those who are smart enough to figure out how to do it on their own. Most people who do sport for any period of time or are successful in anyway are at least a little smarter then the dumb guy who does only what his coach says and this is why hitting biathlon targets is so hard. No one can see what your seeing or thinking while your shooting so you must figure it out all on your own.

First off when shooting you need to have your shooting procedure down so that you can easily duplicate it without putting any thought into it. You should be able to do it with your eyes closed and able to perfectly visualize it at any time. In order to hit targets you need to exclusively keep your conscious brain engaged in the procedures and technique of the procedures. Let me restate that, you must have all of your thoughts be the procedures that you are doing. For example; breathing, sight picture (front sight focus), trigger squeeze. It may sound simple enough to only think about one thing as you are doing it but it is actually quite challenging. In order to figure out the right procedure for yourself you need to first do it the same every time and be aware of what you are doing then you can decide if it works or not. If your procedure works and you hit all your targets you will know what to keep doing every time, if your procedure does not work you can start changing variables in a controlled way. Its just like a chemistry experiment you have to know which chemicals and how much of each chemical you are mixing so that if the reaction works you can do it over again.

Now I am going to try and write my way though what I am thinking and what I see while I am shooting. I will say What I am seeing in bold letters as I say what I am thinking in regular letters. A lot of time there is lots going on and I will be doing an action completely unrelated to what I am thinking.


Approaching the mat,  open snow covers, decide which lane I am going to shoot on, does everything with that point look okay, make sure the target is set to the appropriate setting ie: prone or standing, check the wind flags have they changed since zero,

stop at the mat, go to my knees, set my poles down, rechecking wind flags, take some big deep breaths, relax.  

Take rifle off, load magazine, hook up sling, breath, relax, what point am I laying on,  lay down,  what point am I aiming at, do they match? relax, breath, Close bolt, find the echo target, Take two deep breaths, sight moves up and down in a vertical line as I breath in and out, slowly exhale onto the target keeping my eyes focused on the front sight ring, Sight moves slowly and in a straight line up onto the target, cut your breath, sight stops centered over target but it is kind of hard to tell because your main focus is on the front sight, squeeze trigger, Slowly squeeze trigger, rebolt, breath in, slowly exhale onto the target keeping my eyes focused on the front sight ring, Sight moves slowly and in a straight line up onto the target, cut your breath, sight stops centered over target but it is kind of hard to tell because your main focus is on the front sight, squeeze trigger, Slowly squeeze trigger. 

Repeat this breathe and squeeze procedure for the final three shots. Then check your targets to see how you shot and if you have to ski any penalty loops and then get the heck out of there!! You should have noticed that no where in the above sequence did you think about what happened to the target after you slowly squeezed the trigger, you just went right back to the beginning and started breathing again. You stayed in your "three foot world" and only thought about what you could control, breathing and trigger squeeze. If its further then three feet away its to far to reach out and touch so you can't control it.

Now you should know the exact procedure of what to think about every time you come into shoot and you should hit all your targets every time, right? WRONG! You have to think about all of these and only these thoughts each time you come into shoot and after a certain amount of time you get board with these thoughts and your mind starts to wander again rather then thinking about only these thoughts. To fix this you need to come up with a new "key phrase" to think about and focus on. In the example procedure I gave above the key phrase is, "keeping my eyes focused on the front sight ring" and "but it is kind of hard to tell because your main focus is on the front sight." Some other possible key phrases could be there is a white ring around the black circle, I am putting the correct amount of pressure on the trigger, I cut my breath with the right amount of air in my lungs. The list could go on and on but you need to have something to think about and focus on that you can repeat each time and is within your three foot world, things that YOU can control. If your key phrase was something like watching the target turn white this would not work because it is not guaranteed to be the same each time.

From my experience and talking with others I have found that these key phrases work for a while and then eventually you will begin to not shoot as well but when you find your new magic key phrase all of a sudden you will be hitting targets no problem. Finding out how long these key phrases last is the tricky part and I don't know how long they last but I think it is somewhere in 2-8 week window. But it could also depend on the individual phrase and how it clicks with you personally.

In conclusion, know each step of your shooting process including the mental process as in what your thinking about and practice it. Hopefully all of this makes sense and will help make you into a better biathlete.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Up and running

The goal of this blog is to share information on how to become a better biathlete to anyone interested in biathlon in the US. Most of the information is very basic but hopefully it is helpful and gets people started on the right foot. If you have questions that I can answer over email or suggestions on how I can make this more helpful to people please let me know.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


This blog is to share biathlon resources throughout the USA to anyone interested in them. Eventually there will be shooting drills both live and dry fire, ski technique, and contacts to regional clubs.