Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

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Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 2/14/2017, 9:34 am

First topic message reminder :

My slow fire scores in the first round are consistently low and groupings are poor.  I battle a pronounced adrenaline-induced shake that does not subside until after about 15-20 shots into the match.

An over abundance of adrenaline will cause muscular shaking, such shaking when cold or terrified or very hungry.

Looking into some biological causes of excess adrenaline in relation to shooting seem to point a lot of fingers at stress and low blood sugar.
  The brain tells the body you are about to perform a strenuous or stressful activity, so in response, your brain tells your kidneys to make adrenaline (epinephrine) and your blood disperses it around the body in prepartion for dealing with the situation. 
  This same adrenaline surge can occur when your blood sugar is low.  The adrenaline is transported to the liver where it participates in breaking down glycogen (stored energy) into glucose (usable fuel).
  Also in a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation, whether your blood sugar is in a proper state or not, the brain will still send commands for adrenaline during stress because the body's fight or flight response will override the need proper blood sugar balance. 

Now we are getting to the meat of the issue, overriding a biological response that is not totally under voluntary control.  Butterflies in the stomach, stage fright, dumb thumbs, shell shock, or even the perception of time slowing down, such as watching an accident unfold in front of you- there are many names for it and we have all experienced adrenaline in some fashion positive or negative.

Humans are all pretty similar, but some of us may have a response system that is more reactive than others.  Whether this enhanced response is inherited via evolution or learned via environment, causes and effects of adrenaline have never been as apparent to me as when utilizing the ultrafine muscle control needed for Bullseye.

  Practice, repetition, equipment tweaks, competition, and this forum have all worked to improve my scores.  As I progress and eliminate problems, I often find the problem I am trying to solve was caused by a deeper issue.  This leads me to where I am at today, dealing with the realization that my first round SF scores are hurting my overall performance.

Things that have partially worked to combat shaking:

1.  Changing my diet so that I arrive on the line in a proper state of nutrition.  This way my blood sugar level is not low from not eating and is also not crashing from a sugar high that I created an hour earlier because I grabbed whatever snack was available at the gas station on my way to the range.

2.  Warm up shots can help some and helps me get over any shakes sooner, but not completely.

3.  I have tried all kinds of gripping and pistol grips to deal with it, but this type of shaking is beyond a grip issue.

4.  Just getting my brain and body to chill the f#*! out.  Relaxing, deep breathing, eyes closed, positive visualization, detachment from distractions, Zen, etc.  This does not seem to help as much up front, but definitely helps me come down quicker.

5. Acceptance of the shake.  I do this everyday my friend, but accepting it does not make it go away.  Controlled shake in the black, I can deal with.  Erratic shake that can sweep a whole target is a different animal.

6.  Pre-fatiguing, essentially working out that jumpiness earlier in the day by walking or cycling.  Doing something active, but not extremely so.  This is a pretty good one for sure and I am pursuing it further to find the right balance of activity.

So what is my goal?  It is simple enough.  I want the first magazine loaded into my pistol to go from being the worst 5 shots to the best 5.

Can you help a brother out?  What is working for you?
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 2/19/2017, 7:44 am

The shot plan has changed.  Here is the new version that I can shoot with if my mental state is where it needs to be.

1.  Make sure your stuff is where it needs to be.
2.  Get lined up.
3.  Hold the gun with a grip that feels solid and check trigger finger location.
4.  Load.
5.  Take a breath.  Look at the target.  Picture the gun coming up, settling in, lowering, and following through.
6.  Lift the pistol to shoot while saying "One potato, two potato, three potato, four."
7.  Lower below the black, and build pressure while trying to find the scratch on the back of the front sight.
8.  Hold steady after the trigger falls.
9.  Lower and reload.

Wow.


Last edited by willnewton on 2/19/2017, 3:21 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by davekp on 2/19/2017, 7:59 am

My club, and I'd guess many others, do not allow your finger on the trigger before you are on target. (With a loaded pistol)
I suggest you develop the habit of keeping your finger off the trigger until you raise the pistol.
Some place there you need to add a step to load.
I think you need to have the sights aligned before commencing trigger operation.

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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 2/19/2017, 3:29 pm

Added load step. Clarified trigger step-it's not held there, just checked before loading.  I don't need a direct conscious thought to try and align the sights.  They seem to line up fine if I don't pay too much attention to them.  There is also no scratch on the back of my front sight.  I just tell my mind to keep looking for the scratch and it is so gullible, it keeps looking every time and I can sneak in and pull a smooth trigger while it is busy saying nursery ryhmes and hunting snipe.

The point is not that it is perfect.  The point is that there is a massive difference in the shot plan needed to keep an unfocused mind in line vs. a shot plan you can shoot naturally with a calm mind.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Jack H on 2/19/2017, 4:38 pm

Since nerves has drifted to shot plan...
My take on shot plan:
Simplification comes with experience and practice

1. Be comfortable

2. See the alignment and steadiness you expect in the front sight

3. Start the trigger as the above progresses

4. Follow through

5. Call


Key word; expect. 
We could discuss 1.a., b., c., 2.a., b., c.   .... etc. to no end.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 2/19/2017, 5:40 pm

Shot plan for this shot.

1. Walk up.
2. Brush teeth.
3. Walk away.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by trotterlg on 2/21/2017, 6:42 pm

Could be as simple as being afraid you will have the shakes so you do have the shakes because you are afraid you will have them.  It is something in your little pea brain that you are afraid of, you just don't know what it is.  Not really caring what score you shoot can go a long ways to calming you down, not really easy to do if you do care about your score.  Now Me, I honestly don't care, I am 70, everyone expects me to have the shakes plus not be able to see, so anything I shoot is usually a surprise to some.  Figure out what is scaring your deep recesses of your mind and you will calm right down.  Larry

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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Froneck on 2/28/2017, 1:14 pm

Adrenaline or match pressure? Shooting more will eliminate it. However putting too much effort in shooting good will cause lousy scores. Going to the line as if it were practice is going to create problems. If you think about trigger pull then your concentrating on trigger pull and not shooting. You will begin to feel every movement the trigger makes and every little movement is analyzed so you begin the think the trigger is bad and weight is too high and as you keep thinking about it the worse it gets! Same with holding the dot in perfect center, the more you think about it the worse it gets and the more you will try to hold it on center. You are not concentrating on shooting or doing what you learned in practice.
 One time Darrius Young (spelling in question) shot at Perry in the heavy wind and won the match, We asked him how he was able to shoot so great in the Wind? What wind? he said! I shake so much I didn't notice the wind.
 I mentioned this in another post. I was watching a program on TV. What make some people excel in a sport while others are just also rans. In order to attach recording instruments to the person Shooting was selected since the important fact is to remain as motionless as possible, great for connection with wires.
 Shooter standing with a .22 rifle shot targets, one woman shot a great score and seen with the camera. When asked what she was thinking she heard classical music in her head that would slowly fade and the shot broke. Another was a guy that also shot great, this guy said the same but it was Rock music. A third was a guy that shot lousy, when asked what he was thinking it was sight alignment and trigger pull! Not sure how it was done but in every case the impact point what shown on the target as they shot until the shot was fired and impact established. All the shooter held the same but the one guy that shot lousy pulled the shot off target!
 When I was younger and shooting great I noticed this myself. When I went to matches confident I would win or give the winner a run for the money I did well! Usually won! I remember a few targets well, First time I almost Aced a slow fire target with the .22, every shot up to the last was shot in the X or 10 ring. Looking thru the scope I seen I had an Ace with one more to go. First 9 shots were fired in 6 minutes, the 10th was fired with seconds to go and I got a 96! Did the same with the 45, All shot felt good and I looked, had 9X with one more, yup! got a 96-9x!!
 Don't practice at a match! Do what is needed not concentrate on the act!

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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Magload on 2/28/2017, 1:29 pm

Totally relaxed my mind wonders and so do my shots.  Some times it's thinking about the young chick shooting in the next lane that is missing a full size IDPA target at 5 yards.  As i try to locate my dot that is bouncing around the target I am thinking she needs some pointers.  Yes I do get excited mostly when the woman three lanes down sweeps up all my brass along with every bodies brass, woops there is anothe one off target.  Remember I am 70 and am not expected to shoot good.  Don
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Froneck on 2/28/2017, 1:56 pm

Magload you need to get a batch of berdan primed cases. We had a guy that grabbed every piece of brass he could get and still complain he didn't get all of his! Local reloader got a pile of .45 berdan primed cases that were worthless to him and everyone else. One day at the range we sprinkled them on the ground and watched him scoop them up. At the end of the 2700 we shot a ball match back when ammo was issued. We sprinkled more berdan primed cases and watched him grab them too yet complain he didn't get all of his 30 issued brass! Heck he had to pick-up about a 100 at least in addition to his 30.
 Never bothered anyone's brass from then on!

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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Magload on 2/28/2017, 2:05 pm

Froneck wrote:Magload you need to get a batch of berdan primed cases. We had a guy that grabbed every piece of brass he could get and still complain he didn't get all of his! Local reloader got a pile of .45 berdan primed cases that were worthless to him and everyone else. One day at the range we sprinkled them on the ground and watched him scoop them up. At the end of the 2700 we shot a ball match back when ammo was issued. We sprinkled more berdan primed cases and watched him grab them too yet complain he didn't get all of his 30 issued brass! Heck he had to pick-up about a 100 at least in addition to his 30.
 Never bothered anyone's brass from then on!
This indoor range doesn't let you pick up brass unless it is yours and all other brass goes into a bucket as they manufacturer it and sell it to shooters.  It is just some of these ladies must feel the need to be house keeping as they will sweep down all 10 lanes and dump it in the bucket. If I am using good brass I use my catcher or pick up after every string.  I hate those Berdans you miss culling one and the deprimer pin on the 550 gets pushed up out of the top of the die.  Don
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by SteveT on 3/1/2017, 10:59 am

I'm late coming to this thread but I have 2 thoughts.

If it takes you 15-20 shots to settle down, then dry fire 15-20 shots. You've got 3 minutes prep and 10 minutes for the first slow fire target. If it gets down to the last few minutes of slow fire then you have to take the shots, but until then, it's your time to do whatever it takes to deliver the best shots possible. I dry fire until I get 3 good ones in a row. Often that means a few dry fires during prep time and then 3 dry fires at the beginning of the 10 minutes, but sometimes it is several minutes before I take my first shot.

About your shot plan, there is nothing wrong with having a detailed shot process. As time goes on, it will probably become more automated and a few key words can trigger more complex processes. With practice and repetition it becomes semi-conscious. I find it beneficial to periodically review and train using the detailed shot process, but in practice and matches I want to run as automatically as possible.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by rich.tullo on 3/1/2017, 3:24 pm

I have suffered from the same, 

Breathing is important

Mental stuff is important

Things I did not see mentioned are: 

Dry firing, you cannot dry fire enough.

Holding more than 8 seconds reduces the probability of a ten.

As you pull the trigger the wobble settles down, as long as the dot is on the bullseye when the shot breaks it will be a 7 or better. 

Practice shooting slow fire without looking at the target before the string is finished once you are satisfied with your zero.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 3/16/2017, 11:32 pm

So it has been a month and I just shot a my first 100% contented round of my weekly local BE shoot with no adrenaline rush in a long while.

The things that helped:
1.  Rigorous mental training via shot plan
2.  Inner Tennis, the book
3.  Air pistol, blank target drills, and dry fire, irons only
4.  Change in diet to low glycemic index foods.
5.  Talking to more experienced shooters
6.  Two weeks of spring landscaping!  Shoveling + Wheelbarrowing = Grip

These were all very useful, but biggest change has been since March 1.
On that day I took off the red dot, left the .45 at home, and committed to shooting .22 irons as well as possible the entire month of March.

My scores, such as they were, took a hit initially, but have been coming back.  Rapid fire is more of an interesting process over irons and has taken some adjustment.  The guy that shoots next to me has given me some good-natured ribbing about how my cases are bouncing off his barrel now without my scope on.  I had some trouble when I went to a different range that had a 50-yd SF just from not being familiar with adjusting and shooting iron sights for that distance with my .22, but I got it straightened out after a few rounds. No big whoop.

Each time I walked up to line this month I accepted that I was about to learn something and that as long as I learned something, the score was not important and would take care of itself if I kept learning.

So I have lost some points off my best scores, but I was doing that already.  Now I am gaining points back from where I started weeks ago. I'm shooting groups of shots in SF that are finally group shaped.  I am seeing sight pictures that make me happy, not nervous.

I have confidence that I am headed in a good direction vs. being lost, even if I still wander a bit here and there.  I am keeping at it and feel optimistic about what the next month will bring.

I picked up my red dot scoped air pistol out of curiosity tonight and aimed at the target and was shocked at how quickly things started falling apart within about three seconds of dot watching.  I tried and failed to get off two clean shots with it.  I put it down, quickly reached for my nearby IZH-46, and within seconds shot a nine over the irons with almost no effort.

Sorry red dot, I'm gonna have to put you down for a bit longer.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by Rob Kovach on 3/23/2017, 4:19 pm

Like.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by willnewton on 3/24/2017, 12:35 am

One week later, I just shot my weekly league night with a score well above my previous average.  The guys that were ribbing me a few weeks ago, were paying awfully close attention to their shooting tonight lest they get beaten by "iron sights guy".

I am going to keep going with irons.  No reason to stop as long as my scores keep improving.  It took a month to catch up and surpass my old average scores.  Next I want to beat my overall high score using irons by the end of next month.  I think I can.

@Rob-  You aren't the only one!
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Much good advice

Post by Dipnet on 4/11/2017, 12:25 am

The adrenalin is from fear vis a vie the flight or fight response. There are several things you can do to get it under control (not necessarily listed order of importance).

1. Preparation: the Shot Plan listed above is excellent; adopt, adapt, and use it until it is a routine part of your shooting repertoire.
2. Mental preparation is incredibly important (this is also addressed the aforementioned shot plan). Realize that you are in control of your shooting, including fearful, anxious, or negative thinking. If you are thinking something like the "Long line always trips me up," it will. You simply need to stop all such thoughts. Change your stinking thinking.
3. Ground yourself in the fundamental skills (stance, grip, focus, triggering, minimum arc of movement, gripping and re-gripping). Learn to put the pistol down if you can't get the hold you want.
4. Develop trust in your wobble area. Your mind knows exactly what you want to do; hence, there is no need to overthink it. If you focus on "expecting a 10," you will be surprised how this effective this positive attitude is. The strategy is to coordinate deft triggering with movement of the dot over the center. 
5. A match stress reliever is to shoot more matches. A helpful exercise is to stretch your arms above your head will inhaling deeply and slowly expel air as you lower arms. Do three times and you should find the jitters lessening.
6. Make a point of enjoying what you are doing. Imagine yourself doing well in every stage, even shooting a personal best.
7. When you make a great shot, pause and remember the feeling of satisfaction. Remembering how this feels is an important psychological tool to draw on.

I recommend reading the Bullseye Mind, a short guide to mental toughness for shooters. It has helped me. Best, dipnet
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

Post by BE Mike on 4/11/2017, 8:59 am

From what I have read and practiced:
1. Give up caffeine.
2. If smoking, quit.
3. Take up a moderate cardio/ vascular (low impact) exercise routine, i.e. walking rapidly. Add light weights.
4. Train hard because having confidence in your skills will lower your anxiety. Your training should include mental training. There are some good books and programs out there.
5. Shoot as many matches as fits into your lifestyle.
6. Really focus on your shot plan.
7. Expect good shots.
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Re: Need a hand dealing with adrenaline-here is the info I have so far.

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