For most competitive shooters, summer is our season. Even as we go into hibernation for the winter, our minds turn to the much-anticipated big matches across the country. Our local matches and weekly leagues are great, but they're just training.
Some of us will travel hundreds of miles to try our hand at the big competitions. Everyone hopes to score among the top competitors. At the very least, we want a new personal best.
Many of us have put in the time at the range. We've dry-fired countless imaginary rounds. We are feeling ready and confident for the match.
Well, mindset is great and all, but how much thought have you put into the match logistics? Have you thought about the competition day itself? Are you expecting good vibes to carry you the whole way?
Most of the big shooting competitions we'll be shooting across the country aren't just one day of shooting. A local match that lasts the better part of a day isn't well-rounded practice for that. Not when you have multiple long, sometimes grueling, days of competition ahead.
You've practiced your skills, but how do you prepare physically and mentally for an exhausting multi-day match? These matches cost you time and money. You owe it to yourself to make the most of them and not come home knowing you could have easily done more.
Here are some tips to help you get through the long weekend of shooting.
The key to maintaining energy levels during any given day is keeping your blood sugar levels constant.
Your body prefers a state of homeostasis, or more simply: balance. When your body is out of balance, it works harder to get back to that balanced state. Eating the proper foods will help you avoid an energy crash just after lunch or late in the afternoon.
If you properly balance your diet, your energy levels will stay consistent throughout the day. To do this, eat foods that have low glycemic levels. Don't hammer the sugary drinks or pop tarts.
High glycemic foods burn quickly in the body, leaving you with low blood sugar and low energy. High-sugar foods have a high glycemic level. These give you a sugar spike followed by an energy crash.
They start you out amped and jittery, then leave you lethargic. Neither is good for your shooting.
Eating foods that have good fats and proteins will give you energy for longer periods of time. Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large ones will help maintain your energy throughout the day.
If your body isn't hydrated, you will fatigue quicker. You'll also have problems concentrating on the task at hand.
Your body contains over 70% water. Don't let that 70% dip, and your body will thank you for it.
Hydrating doesn't just mean drinking anything, so again, stay away from those sugary drinks. Juices and sport drinks have high amounts of sugar in them. You only need that kind of sugar if you're running a marathon.
Without a fair bit of exercise to burn it off, you're likely to have a sugar spike in your blood followed by an energy crash. If you ever find yourself shaky during an event, it might not be just nerves.
What you eat and drink can play a huge role in how you feel and certainly how you perform. Focus on water and maybe even an electrolyte supplement.
Electrolytes are important for muscle function. Without proper hydration and electrolyte replacement, your body and performance can be seriously impacted.
The rule of thumb is that if you are thirsty, then you are already on your way to being dehydrated. Stay ahead of the game by sipping on a water bottle frequently. Add some lemon, a pinch of salt, and a small amount of honey to your water bottle to help replace your lost electrolytes.
You can also find quality sports drinks that contain ingredients other than sugar and dilute it in your water bottle.
Between stages, try to get off your feet. Sit down, lie down, close your eyes.
A moment of physical rest is important, but take a short mental break as well. If you stay focused on your shooting for hours on end, your mind will fatigue. You'll end up having a hard time keeping up and keeping motivated.
Give yourself some downtime between bouts, and you'll see a huge difference in your concentration levels during your stages.
Also, when you get off your feet don't be afraid to take a quick power nap. A few minutes of shut eye can really help your body to regenerate and refocus.
I also recommend wearing compression socks. When you are on your feet all day, your blood and lymphatic fluid will pool in your legs and feet. This leaves your legs to feel heavy and unresponsive.
Compression socks help your body maintain circulation and keep your legs ready for action.
The sun zaps your energy. Stay out of it as much as possible.
Bring a big umbrella or find other ways to seek shelter during your downtime between shooting. Wear lots of sunscreen, and reapply throughout the day.
Your skin is your biggest organ. If you get sunburned, your body will fight hard to heal. That regeneration comes at the expense the your mental and physical tasks of shooting.
Sunburn also dehydrates you, so if you do get burned, chug the water.
That's enough for you to chew on for now. Take these ideas to heart, and make sure to check next month's JP BULLETin for part two.