By Beth Walker
Fear. That is the feeling that was running through my body when I first started shooting competitively. Before every stage, turning pale, feeling out of breath, and drawing a blank on my stage plans. That feeling is one that I had never felt before. Looking back, there were so many things that I wish I had known before I shot my first few matches.
The first of these things is that the fear is caused by the want to prove yourself. The sport of 3 Gun is one that does not require this of you. In order to succeed in this sport, you MUST make mistakes. You MUST fall on your face (not literally). In order to succeed you MUST listen to the advice of others. 3 Gun is a sport of making mistakes, learning from them, and growing. It is harder said than done, but eliminating this fear elevates your performance. Be careful not to get fear confused with caution. You should always be cautious to keep safety as a first priority. A friend of mine always tells me, “Make your mistakes fearlessly.” This has been a great motivation to me. Mistakes lead to the right kind of practice. The right kind of practice will lead to growth.
Secondly, never compare yourself to others. It is fine to have goals such as who you want to beat or to feel a sense of accomplishment after a match when you have placed well. When you first start, take advice, learn from others, and learn from your own mistakes. To compare yourself to others creates a sense of self-doubt. Practice and hard work can allow you to accomplish almost anything in
this sport. There is no need to look at the man or women next to you at your first match and think that you wish you were able to shoot like them.
The third thing to remember is that you are your own competition. Each match, I pick one or two things that I want to improve from my last match. If I can accomplish those things, I have beat my competition. When I go up to the line to make ready, I always take a deep breathe right before I shoot. This helps to clear my mind and put my focus on the task at hand. In the book No Hero by Mark Owen, he talks about getting into your three foot world. When you do this, you condense your focus and energy into the things within three feet of you. This allows you to get into a mental state where you stop focusing on the people behind you, and only focus on the task in front of you.
Image by Becky Yackley Photography
Fourth, at matches, there are few people that will turn down the opportunity to help you. I went into the sport with the expectation that I would be on my own. In 3 Gun and relatively any competitive shooting sport, you can find all the help and advice you need. Some of the most helpful, influential people I know are fellow competitors. They are always looking to grow the sport. If you need help, on
anything from stage planning to borrowing a shotgun, do not be afraid to ask.
Lastly, get out and shoot. I was scared to go out and jump in. Often, the best way to approach this sport is jumping in headfirst. Look for local matches or major matches to go and watch, ask shooters questions about their guns and gear. There is no better way to learn the ins and outs of this sport. If there are any further questions, direct message me on Instagram @3gunbeth, message me on Facebook @Beth Walker- Competitive Shooter, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.