Getting into the right frame of mind for shooting

Mitchell Brooker-Smith needs all his mental strength to get back into the right frame of mind for competition shooting.

July 2020 saw me return to the world of competitive shooting. With lockdown restrictions being gradually eased, the CPSA were able to allow some competitions to be held – and one of them was the West Midland Area Olympic Skeet Championship.

Much as I have been looking forward to competing again, I must admit that I was hit by a wave of emotions about four days before the competition. I felt extremely nervous.

My support group tells me nerves are a good thing as they can be turned into a positive force for success and it shows how much you care about what you are doing.

One of my traits is that I am a creature of habit. Once I get into a routine, I adjust to it quite fast – and I had quickly grown used to not being able to compete.

I had to break out of the noncompetitive lifestyle that lockdown had forced me into, and make my way back into my victory chasing mindset. Breaking out of this really put my mental strength to the test as I had to motivate myself to feel like a winner again.

I started by going for long walks to relax myself. I also looked back through my previous articles and social media posts to spark the fire again.

Eventually competition day came, and it was time to put all of my preparation to the test. I started off well with a 25 straight. Normally in a competition, I don’t think about the round as a sequence made up of 25 targets.

Instead, I focus on each individual target and build a score that way. This time was slightly different. While I focused on breaking the next target, the thought of a 25 was in the back of my mind, although I did my best to keep it suppressed for the remainder of the round.

After months without competition, Mitchell had to get back into his victory chasing mindset

I was able to finish strongly, shooting three 24s. I was particularly proud of this as I missed certain targets, which unfortunately can often have a psychological effect on a shooter’s performance.

It’s a sickening feeling when you miss a High 1 – and I did it twice during those three rounds! I was proud of myself for showing resilience and digging deep to finish strong regardless. Missing a High 3 single proved intimidating too, and required some mental strength to finish that round cleanly.   

Finishing on 97 ex-100 was enough to win the West Midland Area Championship for the third consecutive year, and I also claimed 1st in A class and 1st in Juniors.

It’s always great to win, and I enjoy the feeling of pride that comes from knowing you were the best on the day. Even so, I always try to keep those feelings in balance with my enjoyment for the sport and the discipline. Winning medals and trophies is great, but it is important not to lose the simple enjoyment of clay shooting.  

I look forward to sharing with you what I have done next. Until then, stay safe and I hope you can go and do some shooting! 

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