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No "stinkin' thinkin' ........Is it really a good idea to blank your mind when you shoot?

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Post by mikemyers on Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:25 pm

First topic message reminder :

I was going to post this here several times, and each time I convinced myself that would be silly.

I've read the saying "no stinkin' thinkin' " several times, but I always took it to mean don't overthink things, something that has always been an issue for me.  I always overthink everything.  But I got to wondering, what if took that saying literally?

For better or worse, in dry fire or live fire, I would go through all the motions of taking a shot, but NOT THINK.  A blank mind.  Just let it happen.


Dave Salyer made this easier - just keep the aim in the middle of the target as best I can, WITHOUT thinking about aim, or trigger, or whether the gun will fail, or whether I still need to do whatever....    just blank out my mind, and do.  I seem to be able to do that now, without consciously thinking about it.


I'm hoping that all the advice from this forum, and all the wonderful training videos from Brian Zins, and all the discussions we've had here, sank into my brain, and will help get me to do the right thing, with NO conscious thought on my part.

I can't yet say what the effects of doing this have been - it's way too early.  I can say though that most of the bad things I used to do, such as twitching my hand just as I fire, stopped.  I no longer "knew" when the gun would fire - at some point it always does, but watching my gun was almost like watching someone shoot on a video, or TV.  

I only thought about my grip as I picked up the gun and raised it, and if something was wrong, I stopped - but beyond that, it got to where either nothing was wrong, or if something was wrong, I didn't notice it.  

It's not easy for me to "not think".  I used to have a "mental check-list" that I was doing things correctly, and not forgetting anything.  Somehow, I managed to turn that off.  I thought this was just some silly thing that I would try out, then get back to what I thought was "normal", but maybe it's not so silly.
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Post by Jack H on Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:34 pm

I found this thread I started years ago, buried deep in my files.......Jack H


Seeking Zin......


I'd like to have a talk again about converting your conscious shooting efforts into subconscious.


As you train and drill in the conscious on trigger, hold, or eye discipline, and try to eliminate them
from conscious thought, what is your last point of conscious attention that can still bring a good shot together?


What is the one last conscious thought you can keep that does actually help channel the subconscious shot? Jack H




Jack, Excellent question.....been awhile since someone asked a shooting question.

If you are having a conscious thought in the last second before you shoot, then your subconscious mind is not yet been "freed" to take over and act. You need 3 seconds of quiet mind before the subconscious is asked to perform what the conscious has asked of it. Your last conscious thought should be one of the two most important fundamentals.....sight alignment or trigger control. Which ever is the least automatic for you should get your conscious mind's last attention and then go quiet for the subconscious to take over. Not that I'm so smart, I learned the 3 second "rule" from Jan Brundin. Ron S


I needed to shoot many hundred perfect shots before I noticed that I was doing it without thinking about it. This happened to me in 1970 while I was shooting on my High School Rifle Team. Until a few years ago it was a mystery to me just how and why this happened. It is not something easily
understood by means of logic. Perhaps one of those wise old sayings will help:
(crudely paraphrased) A man could chase a cat around for hours without catching it but sit quietly and the cat will jump up into your lap.


~Trying~ to shoot with subconscious control will bring only frustration and failure.


I try to have nothing in my mind when shooting. The absence of words in my thoughts seem to be especially important to me. Think in pictures instead of words. Visualize the sights in the perfect
position when the pistol fires. The trigger must be ignored as long as the sights are not disturbed by the trigger. This is often described as a race to get the sights right before the weapon fires.


It works the other way too; The sights must be ignored as long as the trigger pull is smooth and straight (notice I did not say it should be a slow pull). I seem to recall that Zins concentrates on the trigger. Depends on which one needs your total concentration.


You are not actually ignoring either of the fundamentals, the subconscious takes over the part you are not concentrating on.


I play a few seconds of instrumental music in my head to help get rid of the voices when I insist on nagging myself. I do not try to rid myself of the extraneous thoughts I simply distract myself with something unrelated to shooting. Preparation helps too. I sit and think about any and everything that might drift into my mind and I think about it however long it takes to solve the problem or become comfortable with the fact that I cannot do anything about it. This really helps cut down on the random thoughts that will distract me while I am attempting to concentrate on the task at hand.


Zen, on the other hand, is dangerous for competitors. Zen does this by not caring about the outcome (score) but only about the act of shooting. Many top shooters have "burned out" because they no longer care about the competition between shooters. Without Zen I probably would have never understood what was happening but now I do not care much about matches. I will get back to you when I figure out how to keep the cake and eat it too!


This is not the secret shortcut for the apprentice to suddenly begin shooting High Master scores. You MUST get all the fundamentals and the details correct first. Remember that a flinch is also
subconscious! Bob Fleming


Hi Jack, As the New Year approaches I've been changing my thoughts on training the subconscious. Actually, this has been happening for a little while, but I haven't put much of this new concept to words yet. My previous belief centered around the idea of creating a set of steps to practice until they are ingrained and can be left to the subconscious to perform as we taught.


My current belief is that this procedure is actually limiting the subconscious in its capability. It's like your boss telling you what he wants done and then telling you how he wants each step performed. A result can be achieved, but there can be no advancement over what the boss knows. In a way, the conscious developing a routine and then forcing it onto the subconscious is providing a way for the conscious to still be in control. It is also telling the subconscious not to stray from the provided course.


So my thoughts now go to the idea of giving the subconscious more latitude and tasking it with finding the way. It order for this to work the conscious needs to be able to let go of the process and become the observer we've addressed before. The conscious also has to provide the goal information through visualization so that the subconscious knows where you want to go. The conscious then provides feedback of how the experimentation of the subconscious is proceeding by being the observer in the process. The subconscious performs all the activities to prove or disprove what it tries. The conscious refrains from judgment and lets the subconscious judge the value of the intricate actions.


This new concept does not disagree with earlier thoughts. It actually explains why we have some of those moments when we get mixed up, everything happens on its own and we find a pleasant surprise when the target faces for scoring. It also ties in to the fact that we can improve by shooting without actually following a training schedule. Perhaps it even explains those "naturals" a bit more. You might remember my contention that "naturals" aren't alien, and the way can be learned by those that aren't "naturals." I've always put forth that it is in the attitude that these individuals excel. Perhaps a big part of that confidence they display is in the ability to turn the important stuff over to the subconscious.


So where am I going with all this? I'm developing the idea that instead of training the subconscious to perform my consciously developed routines, I should simply tell my subconscious what I want and let it determine the way. In order to see this through, I must let the subconscious find out what happens when the trigger is activated in all the little ways it can be and take that all the way to letting my subconscious determine all the aspects through experimentation. I must become the true conscious observer and let the subconscious decide the training. Perhaps, more to follow... Take Care, Ed Hall




I hear you Ed and think you are right on. And yes. Follow up.
The biggest obstacle then is to get into a mental state free of dirty laundry. If you know what I mean.

LtC Miller always said "trigger control, sight alignment, and an empty mind". One would think the
empty mind part is easy, but it is the harder of the three. (Although an empty mind might be easy for some people:)


Learn the basics. Learn the goal. Learn the simplest way to present the goal to the subconscious sans detail. The subconscious is probably kind of mixed up if you give it too much detail. I think there is a simple single key for the subconscious to work off of. Give it that key, and turn it loose. Of course you have to be prepared first to a certain level before you can let it go.
Now at what level of shooting do you think these deep ideas really become critical?
Taking care, Jack H




Jack.....In slow fire I just observe the dot. In rapid I just say to myself , "smooth on the trigger".
In timed I try to cherry pick and that doesn't work! :-( Dave




The biggest obstacle then is to get into a mental state free of dirty laundry.


This is where I like what Bob Fleming wrote:
"Preparation helps too. I sit and think about any and everything that might drift into my mind and I think about it however long it takes to solve the problem or become comfortable with the fact that I cannot do anything about it. This really helps cut down on the random thoughts that will distract me while I am attempting to concentrate on the task at hand."


Some excellent info! How often do we take the time to address all the issues? For most of us, we don't address them until we are forced to. The above routine described by Bob has to be an ongoing thing. It is best done as a scheduled sitting and all pending issues should be addressed. Those that can't be immediately resolved should be set aside with the firm determination to address them at the next scheduled time. An even more important part is to address them the next time and sincerely try to resolve them. If we keep putting off an issue, it will keep trying to get our attention at any instance it sees an opening. What better time than when we're trying to be calm and think of nothing? Once you've established a good routine, you will find it easy to set aside something that may crop up during that quiet time of shooting. Simply take a moment to address whatever it is and then resolve to fully address it at the next scheduled time. Then you should be able to get back to the task at hand. Thanks for that description, Bob.


Take Care, Ed Hall


**
Ed S, You had something great going on in what you wrote until, "forget the trigger". Never can you forget the trigger. Everything else sure but not the trigger. It is the only thing we are moving during a shot process. If you had a good day at the range understand that it things came together for you. When I have a day where I cannot seem to come out of the ten ring, it is like I am on auto pilot, not thinking about anything but just letting it happen. I am not forgetting about the trigger or the target, everything is just coming together naturally. Some people may never experience that, but when you do,you must understand that you are still focusing on the fundamentals it is just on a different level. A subconscious level. That is where we need to be in a string of fire, not consciously thinking about it but subconsciously. I only say this because it may confuse new shooters. They need to focus and focus well on the fundamentals when shooting. What you described is you reaching a new level for yourself. It is a great thing. You have experienced what they call the "zone" or the term in sports is "flow", where it seems you are not in control. I have one question. After the match were mentally fatigued? Let me know and I'll explain why I ask. BZ
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Post by Jack H on Thu Feb 06, 2020 1:57 pm

And another long ago Seeking Zin post from about the time when BZ was first starting a website.....


Sgt Zins
Many of the posts lately are still very detailed in dot placement and triggering operations. From your posts though, I believe I am finally putting together my long desired removal of thinking the shot through. Assuming rather high skills of holding, triggering, and vision, doesn't the shot exercise simply become putting the dot in the middle and the gun goes off. Note - not >then< the gun goes off - as a second step, but just goes off. Flow is a good word for it.


Your North pole idea to me means that in the mind there is a connection between pressuring the trigger and moving to center. In the mind, the action of trigger pressure also drives the dot to center. When the dot is in the middle, the shot goes off.


Is this a fair interpretation? I think a lot of people are reading it as the trigger physically drives the dot. I have never been able to make that as a physical connection.


Jack H


*********************************************************


Jack,
> YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRCET
>
> BRIAN





And at another time:
Jack,


Steering the dot through sight alignment is a thought process or concept. It is simply away to get people to better understand the relationship between the two in order to keep them from getting behind in trigger pressure as related to sight picture. I do not want to drive the dot to the center of the target unless I am squeezing the trigger. If I have perfect sight picture and I have no pressure on the trigger I am in fact training my mind to not pull the trigger. That is why when someone does holding drills per say: They hold the gun on target for 3 minutes just in order to build strength or endurance or improve their hold, then after the 3 minutes they squeeze the trigger. You are telling your mind that it is okay to see perfect sight picture and NOT squeeze the trigger. Thus holding drills need to be done on a blank surface, NEVER, EVER a target.


I say use the trigger to control the sights simply to get people to where they are going to initiate pressure on the trigger before they acquire the desired sight picture. Not moving my trigger finger around to get the sights where I want them. NOTE: Keep that between us, okay. Until everyone understands the intent of the statement not the letter of the statement, as it seems you do. I think more harm than good will be done. There are others who get it, like you. In mass they need to understand it as a physical act in order to try accomplish it. We have way of saying this, pardon my French, "Trick [censored] your mind." I have gotten myself to believe that I am steering the sights with my trigger, in actually I am simply applying pressure before sight picture has been acquired.


Don't throw this out to the list this is something that needs to be done on a 1 by 1 basis. You two [too] may now share the it with those who seem to get it.


BZ
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Post by mikemyers on Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:38 pm

(I'm half way through the book, as of last night.  My opinion is it's rather incomplete.  Your mind can only do so much - the body needs to be able to do the physical things that allow the bullet to go where you intended.  I think it's always been obvious that you can only concentrate on one thing at a time, but (as the book correctly says) you need to do several things at the same time, meaning you need to do a lot of things without thinking about them, which is accomplished by lots of good practice, so your sub-conscious mind can do the work.   To me, the book might help things fit together, but watching videos by Brian Zins, Keith Sanderson, and a few others....   and all the feedback from here on this forum....   is a lot more help.    I'll keep reading - maybe in another week I'll have finished it.)

(Something else I've convinced myself would make a HUGE difference is a good coach.)

(For better or worse, I set a goal for myself of always placing ten shots in the 10-ring.  I think it's achievable, I'm not all that far from doing it already, and while picturing every round going right to the X as I fire that round may help, going to the range 3 or 4 days a week and dry-firing every night is likely to help ME a lot more.)

(.....and I'm still trying the "no stinkin' thinkin' idea, but thanks to this discussion, now I'm trying to monitor what is happening.)
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Post by Jack H on Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:29 am

I believe that thinking "ten shots in the 10 ring" is not quite the best think thing.  Shots in the 10 ring are always a "result" of what you do with the gun in your hand.  There lies the goal --> Your performance and recognition of a good shot.
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Post by jmdavis on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:10 am

Jack H wrote:I believe that thinking "ten shots in the 10 ring" is not quite the best think thing.  Shots in the 10 ring are always a "result" of what you do with the gun in your hand.  There lies the goal --> Your performance and recognition of a good shot.

Performance not score. Where have I heard that?
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Post by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:19 am

To me, all I need to see is my group, to know how well I'm doing.  If it's centered over the X, great, but if it's an inch to the right and down, that's fine by me - all I need to do is adjust the sights.  Score is misleading (although it's all that counts if you're in a match, I guess).


Last edited by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by jmdavis on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:24 am

You're still focusing on the outcome, not the process. Learn to shoot a 10, know what you did and then do it again. And Again. And again.
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Post by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:36 pm

jmdavis wrote:You're still focusing on the outcome, not the process. Learn to shoot a 10, know what you did and then do it again. And Again. And again.
I agree with what I highlighted, and I think that's what I'm doing.

You don't understand.  As I see it, a lot of "what you did" has to do with my hands/muscles/fingers/etc. doing the right thing.  Since I started shooting these guns over the past week or so, I can see improvements every day.  I also know myself well enough to understand that my "goals" are constantly tightening up.  If my training and practice and everything else works out to get me to the point where I can reliably shoot a "ten", I'll then start thinking about the X-ring.

I agree with you that the focus should be on the process, not the outcome, but to me they are directly related.  Nobody cares about excuses; what counts is scores.  If the process is good, the scores will be good.

(......and to be completely honest, what I do focus on is the group.  When I can consistently shoot a small tight group at 25 and 50 yards with no supports, I will be thrilled.)
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Post by CR10X on Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:56 pm

what counts is scores.

No.  Apparently, you still don't get it.

I'd rather produce a 1.5 inch group in the 8/9 ring than a bunch of scattered 9's and 10's.   One can be corrected with the screws on the sight, the other can't.  What counts is consistency in the application of the fundamentals. 

CR

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Post by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:20 pm

Actually, I agree with you completely - you left off part of what I wrote:

"Nobody cares about excuses; what counts is scores.  If the process is good, the scores will be good."

I'm trying to agree with you, and I tried to write the same thing you just posted, although you wrote it better than I did:

"To me, all I need to see is my group, to know how well I'm doing.  If it's centered over the X, great, but if it's an inch to the right and down, that's fine by me - all I need to do is adjust the sights.  Score is misleading (although it's all that counts if you're in a match, I guess)."


I'm trying to say what you've written, but I guess I'm not doing a very good job at it.



At the end of the event, one person gets to hold the huge trophy high over his head, and whether or not he gets to be the one doing so depends on his score. (....and the score of course depends on "consistency in the application of the fundamentals".



In case there is still any doubt, what *I* care about is good, tight, groups.  If I can do that, adjusting the sights is trivial.
And I realize I'm still a novice at all this, so maybe I'm still doing who knows how many things wrong............
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Post by chopper on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:16 pm

(......and to be completely honest, what I do focus on is the group.  When I can consistently shoot a small tight group at 25 and 50 yards with no supports, I will be thrilled.)


Mike are using sand bags or a Ransom Rest when you speak of supports ?

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Post by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:27 pm

Neither.  I purchased a fancy "rest" for checking out accuracy, but haven't taken it to the range yet.  Maybe I'll do so on Monday.

I don't have a Ransom Rest (you guys suggested I don't need one), and the sand bags at my club are pretty worn out.  I figure I can just do the best I can off-hand.  

If I take the new rest to the club on Monday, I'll take some photos, and post them here.  I promised the fellow who makes the rest that I would send him a set of photos, and that was months ago.........  Me bad.

Unless/until I start developing my own loads, I don't see any need for a rest.  I'm much less interested in what the gun can do, than I am in how well I can do using the gun.
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Post by mikemyers on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:52 pm

Jack H wrote:
......Steering the dot through sight alignment is a thought process or concept. It is simply away to get people to better understand the relationship between the two in order to keep them from getting behind in trigger pressure as related to sight picture. I do not want to drive the dot to the center of the target unless I am squeezing the trigger. If I have perfect sight picture and I have no pressure on the trigger I am in fact training my mind to not pull the trigger. That is why when someone does holding drills per say: They hold the gun on target for 3 minutes just in order to build strength or endurance or improve their hold, then after the 3 minutes they squeeze the trigger. You are telling your mind that it is okay to see perfect sight picture and NOT squeeze the trigger. Thus holding drills need to be done on a blank surface, NEVER, EVER a target.

I say use the trigger to control the sights simply to get people to where they are going to initiate pressure on the trigger before they acquire the desired sight picture. Not moving my trigger finger around to get the sights where I want them. NOTE: Keep that between us, okay. Until everyone understands the intent of the statement not the letter of the statement, as it seems you do. I think more harm than good will be done. There are others who get it, like you. In mass they need to understand it as a physical act in order to try accomplish it. We have way of saying this, pardon my French, "Trick [censored] your mind." I have gotten myself to believe that I am steering the sights with my trigger, in actually I am simply applying pressure before sight picture has been acquired.

BZ

Very good information - wish I had learned them many years ago.
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Post by adminbot1911 on Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:06 pm

When starting out there were a lot of thoughts.  Ditties, self-reinforcing messages, reminders to adjust sights, etc.

Now, there is almost nothing up top except  "boom... beautiful" or "oops" during the follow through.  Eyes, arm, fingers all do what they need to do.  If my performance is not where it is supposed to be, sometimes the chatter returns, go through the process, reincorporate a ditty or two "Front sight! Front sight!" but my goal is to get into a flow of banging 10s unconsciously and aborting bad squeezes unconsciously.

So there is a time for an active mind and a time for a calm mind, in my experience.
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Post by mikemyers on Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:04 am

Over the past week or two, when shooting with my red dot, I am "thinking" of the bullet going right into the bullseye.  Thinking isn't the right word, but I don't know how to describe it.  I'd like to think I'm monitoring what I'm doing, and that this is what I expect.

That didn't work for steel sights for me, so the only "thought" that seems to be present somewhere in my mind is "front sight".  Every so often, everything just "happens" on its own, and the shooting is good.  If I come out of this "trance" and start thinking, I abort the shot and start all over again, as otherwise the shot will not be that good. 

Funny, it happened today, stronger than ever, the only thought I was aware of was "front sight", and the gun fired when everything was where it should be, five times in a row.  Those were the best shots of the day.  


I like what 'adminbot1911' wrote:  "there is almost nothing up top except  "boom... beautiful" or "oops" during the follow through.  Eyes, arm, fingers all do what they need to do. "
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