All competitive shooters have their own methods for training for a big match, none are wrong, but most are different.
My match training begins by evaluating videos of myself in recent matches to determine which areas I performed well in, and which areas I need to give more attention to. For example, I am currently training for a match now, and based on previous videos, I have noticed that I am performing at a lower level with my handgun as compared to my rifle and shotgun.
Once I identify where the most work needs to be put in, I make a short list of drills to work on when I get to the range. I make a list to help myself stay focused on the weaker areas while I am at the range instead of spending time on drills that I may enjoy more. There are numerous opinions out there about how much range time you should put in, but I personally do not fire more than 300 rounds per range visit when I am working on a specific gun. This is because I feel like you can do more harm to yourself and your technique by firing high round counts in a short amount of time.
Step 1: No Gun Needed
I keep myself on a workout routine to stay in the best shape I possibly can. Every competitive sport requires physical fitness and 3-Gun is no exception. If you are running through a stage and have to stop to catch your breath, or maybe you try to make a 250yd rifle shot as quick as you can and but can't hold the gun steady enough to make the shot, this is due to not being in shape. I focus on my physical abilities as much as my shooting abilities. I isolate individual muscle groups each day, and do some kind of cardio every day whether it is running, swimming, biking, etc. Just like range time is never wasted time, gym time is never wasted time as well.
Step 2: Hydrate
I begin really hydrating myself one week prior to the match. I do this to prevent having my performance suffer because I am dehydrated and beat down. A lot of matches are hot, especially carrying all of that gear around the whole day, so you can’t just rely on hydrating the day of the match, because by that time it is too late. Just take care of yourself so you are able to perform at the best of your abilities.
Step 3: At-Home Training
I know what you are thinking; “You won’t become a better shooter by being at the house.” You are absolutely correct, but being a successful 3-Gun shooter does not all come from being able to shoot a live round. I work on my technique constantly while I am home. I walk through the house with my safe, unloaded pistol in the holster and practice drawing and engaging random objects around the house. Also, I practice quad loading on my shotgun because I feel that is an area you can never have enough practice.
Step 4: Casual Competition
The last gun-related training I do is go to the range with a fellow competitor to practice match scenarios. Honestly, we just have a lot of fun with this step of the training process because at the end of the day, 3-Gun is supposed to be fun. Otherwise, I don’t think I would spend all of my money on it. All we do on these days is take turns setting up our own stages and seeing who posts better times on them. This is a great way to relax with some friendly competition and not worry about the stressful parts of the training you took care of earlier in the process.
The biggest take-home message I want to leave you with is don’t over-complicate your training. Your abilities are what got you to the big matches, so just zero in on the areas where you have more opportunity for success.
Are you interested in competition? Let us know what you do to prepare in the comments below.
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