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Confidence vs. Expectations

By: Paul Giambrone, III

Man I really want to do well at the State Shoot this year. Yea, this is going to be my year. I am shooting really well, things are going well, I am going to do well at State! Fast forward passed the State Shoot and you are scratching your head and wondering what went wrong. Or that time you wanted to go to the World Shoot because you were shooting well and it was a total flop. Should have just stayed home. I could go on and on but you get the point. Why is it every time we start expecting ourselves to do well at a tournament we just totally flop? Simple… You are expecting yourself to do well so one of two things happen. Either you put so much pressure on yourself and try way too hard OR you hit cruise control thinking if you show up a$$ and face on the station, that the targets are going to just bow down and break before you. Either scenario, we are no longer working like we should on the next target we shoot, we are now focused on the the end result or more concerned with the end result. Expectations cause serious problems and never allow you to shoot to your full potential. Shooters who “expect” themselves to do well at various events are putting so much unnecessary pressure on themselves and WILL cause misses. I should shoot a 100 today instead of just thinking about how we need to break high 1. I have so many stories from my own experiences and have twice as many stories about other shooters that have conveyed the same message. Any time I go to a tournament with ZERO expectations, I always do very well. I usually win the tournament or place in the top 3 HOA and take a couple of gun titles with me as well. Confidence is good. Confidence allows you to focus on your process and execute your shots. Having no expectations allows you to execute these shots with ease since you don’t have the added weight on your shoulders.

The first time I truly understood this concept was in 2005 at the World Shoot. If you are familiar with any of my history, you’ll know that was the year that Hurricane Katrina made its way through my home and destroyed so much, including the gun club where I grew up. That was also the year that I had a fatty tumor removed from my face and couldn’t shoot for two month (leading up to the World). During the aftermath of Katrina, I managed to cut down a tree that was suspended in the air maybe 6 feet and have it land on my right foot which require stitches and walking around on crutches for a few days. All of this happened between mid-August and the World. A week before, my dad asked me if I wanted to go. I said I wanted to go because I knew he really wanted to go and to just get away from the mess at home. That year, I wanted to just go shoot. I didn’t have ANY expectations. That year I shot a 400X400 and a 549X550 and became one of the very few shooters to win both the Mini World and the World Shoot HOA and take a few gun titles as well between the two shoots. HOW? How could that happen when I didn’t expect myself to shoot well? Very simple. I had confidence in my game and went to just shoot targets, not a score or win a title.

On the flip side, I can give you countless examples of going to a tournament where I am thinking I really “need” this or that victory. I “need” to win. This weekend will be a 400. I need to win this world title. All, and I mean all, were failures OR if I someone pulled it off, I had so much pressure on myself that it wasn’t any fun for the weekend. Bottom line, confidence should allow you to relax and that’s how we want to shoot. Expectations cause pressure and that’s when we can’t shoot relaxed anymore causing unnecessary stress and that’s when the game is no longer fun.

Tip of the month: When you go practice next time, just relax and shoot targets. Focus on your mental process and just shoot one station, one target at a time. You aren’t shooting for a score or anything else. Practice hard on this that way when you get to a tournament, you can do the same thing!