Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 21

Self-talk and Arousal Control. Sound familiar?
These same themes are found in shooting
sports literature, but perhaps not in the same
context as found in recent neuroscience research.
Through repeated exercises, the U.S. Navy
conditions recruits to control their reactions
to the natural fear signals initiated by the
amygdala. Practice (repetition) helps control
or even suppress our instinctive reactions that
detract from shooting well. Or, perhaps the
repetition helps us view these fear signals in
a non-threatening way-to accept them as a
natural consequence of our competitive sport.
Navy SEAL training also seeks to replace
panic, a lack of preparation for the brain's
"fight or flight" alarm, with rehearsed options,
an approach presented by National Smallbore Champion Ernie Vande Zande in his
November 2011 interview where he reflected:
"Back in high school, I felt that pressure was
normal. I started noticing in speech class that
sometimes I got pretty nervous, but I didn't get
nervous every time. Over time, I realized that
I became more nervous on days when I gave
a speech when I felt less prepared. I started
thinking about that in relationship to my
shooting. It was the same kind of thing:
At those times when I wasn't prepared, I felt
more nervous."
This learned behavior, goal setting and problem solving occurs in the most recent "room
addition" to our brain-the frontal lobe, located
just above our eyes. Science explains that master
shooters have created signals in their frontal lobe
that are strong enough to override instinctive distractions from the earliest parts of the brain. Yet
these frontal lobe signals are much slower than
those of the ancient brain.
Self-talk can also help to override fear from
the reptilian brain. According to History
Channel's movie-The Brain, the average person
speaks to himself at a rate of 300 to 1,000 words
per minute. If these messages are positive,
then these "signals" from the frontal lobe help
override any fear signals coming from the
brain's center.

For arousal control, Navy SEAL training focuses on breathing. Long exhales mimic the body's
relaxation process, delivering more oxygen to
the brain for better performance. So science
teaches us what our coaches have been telling
us all along: Slow breathing helps diffuse precompetition nerves.
From Dr. Tant:
"Even the notion of 'match pressure' is variable. If you saw 50 guys on the line, you might
think they were aiming for the same thing
(the 10-ring, of course), but if you had a psychological X-ray machine to look inside them, you
would find a whole kaleidoscope of motivations,
emotions and reasons for being there, ranging
from run-of-the-mill fear of failure and determination to shoot well, to the sheer joy and gratitude about being a free people with the Second
Amendment protecting us (so far). I guess this is
obvious, but it is easy to assume that the other
guy sees things the same way we do. I love it
when shooters approach me about their mental
game and I get a peek at what makes them pursue the sport.
"When I look at my own mental game, I can
see that my ability to focus intently is at the core
of it. I'm one of those shooters whom Dr. Keyes
refers to as 'self-selecting' on that variable. I've
never had much trouble sitting still and paying
attention for long periods of time, and my profession has honed this ability through thousands of
hours spent listening to my patients. Plus, I seem
to be able to look inward to note what is going
on in my mind and also sense what my body
is doing and feeling, which is helpful when I'm
trying to figure out what just happened to a shot.
Some of this comes naturally I think, but again,
my work as a psychotherapist helps. (Tracking
my own thoughts and emotions helps me track
and reflect on my patients' experiences. A classic
example is feeling suddenly sleepy in a session
and using that clue to locate what a patient is
blocking, consciously or not.) Having this internal
'data' gives me the foundation for experiments
and adjustments to my game on an ongoing basis.
SHOOTINGSPORTSUSA.COM 21


http://www.SHOOTINGSPORTSUSA.COM

Shooting Sports USA - June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA - June 2014

Contents
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover1
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover2
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 3
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 4
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 5
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Contents
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 7
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 8
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 9
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 10
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 11
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 12
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 13
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 14
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 15
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 16
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 17
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 18
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 19
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 20
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 21
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 22
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 23
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 24
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 25
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 26
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 27
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 28
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 29
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 30
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 31
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 32
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 33
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 34
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 35
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 36
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 37
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 38
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - 39
Shooting Sports USA - June 2014 - Cover4
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