A common remark I hear in our classes: how easy sleep comes at the end of the day. How mentally tired students my students are after a full day of training and how surprised they are at their level of mental exhaustion . . .
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that concentration takes an effort. To be successful in any activity requires a constant effort and constant concentration.
You might think a person with good shooting skills doesn’t need to concentrate as much as a piker. Wrong. Skill level is not always relevant. While someone with poor shooting skills has to concentrate on a new activity, those with good shooting skills have to concentrate to maintain a high level of performance. That’s not always an easy task.
Be like Dug the Dog
Here’s the main advice I give students trying to focus: remove distractions.
When a shooter’s concentration is broken due to a distraction all sorts of bad things can happen, from poor performance to safety violations leading to a negligent discharge. You need to clear clutter from your work area. Remove anything that’s not directly related to helping improve your performance: your range bag, casual shooting buddy, “extra” guns, everything.
You don’t need to bring everything but the kitchen sink to the firing line. All those items not directly connected to improving your performance are a distraction. Instead of focusing on a specific skill set you need to master, you start wondering how new equipment can make things better. A bad artist blames his tools. ‘Nuff said?
Simple, but not easy
Working through bad habits requires an intense level of concentration. I know it sounds simple, but removing distractions allows you to concentrate more efficiently. Strike a balance between concentration and suppression. Concentrate on what matters for peak performance and suppress the distractions that inhibit peak performance.
When you’re practicing your shooting, don’t distract yourself by attempting to focus on multiple tasks. Concentrate on one improvement at a time. Keep it simple, stupid.
Take a break!
I often see students’ performance suddenly crash. Their inability to sustain concentration is the usual culprit. When that happens, it’s time to take a break. Allow for a 10-15-minute recharge.
While most of my students aren’t up for a star jumps or other calisthenics (at least in front of their classmates), a quick bit of stretching is an excellent alternative. Nothing fancy, something to get the blood flowing and clear the head. It’ll help you reach those high levels of concentration again.
New Year’s Resolution
Sustained focus takes preparation, concentration and a working knowledge of your limitations. Make focus your focus your training goal in 2018 and you’ll see significant improvement in your safety and skill.