Attentional Control Techniques
Many shooting errors can be attributed to one single fact: you weren’t looking at your sights. Similarly, maybe you weren’t thinking about your sights. This is a huge problem that shows itself with erratic groupings on your target. What you need to do is develop your ability to concentrate, to focus on the task at hand (for instance, aligning your sights) and delivering a shot or series of shots.
Some people believe that concentration is a skill that can be learned. Although difficult, with lots of practice, they believe that it can be mastered. The following exercises can be performed anytime, anywhere and are relatively short in duration (range from 1-5 minutes each.) The key to success with these exercises lie in frequency: practice regularly. Also, perform one exercise at a time. Choose one, work with it for a week or two, then choose another.
When doing these, be aware when you lose concentration or your focus drifts. Accept it neutrally, without anger or frustration. Just relax and resume the exercise. Only by working through these lapses in concentration will your focus improve.
Perform one or all of the exercises, in a quiet place that lends itself to concentration:
- Say the alphabet to yourself. Mentally picture each letter as you say it.
- Count from 1 to 100. Mentally picture each number as you say it.
- Hold a coffee cup in your hand and find a distinguishing feature on it, like a design or a chip. Try to concentrate on this feature for one minute. Progress at your own rate to five minutes.
- Find a distinguishing feature of or object within a room. Try to concentrate on this feature for one minute, blocking out all distractions. Progress at your own rate to five minutes.
- Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath as you inhale and exhale for one minute. Progress at your own rate to five minutes. (This exercise is great because it can also double as a relaxation technique!)
- Concentrate on the second hand of your watch for one minute.Progress at your own rate to five minutes.
While you start these exercises in a quiet room, free from distraction, you can increase the level of difficulty as time passes. Try concentrating on the alphabet while riding the bus or subway, or as a passenger (NOT as the DRIVER) in a car. If you can concentrate in the center of noise and distractions, then you have a powerful skill.
Note: Wall-holding and dry-firing can be used as sport-specific concentration exercises. You can (and should) dry fire regularly and supplement that training with these attentional control exercises. Look under the General Training Exercises in the Technical Training Section for more details.