Book Review: Bullseye Mind - Mental Toughness for Sport Shooting

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posted on June 22, 2016
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When asked what makes him effective as a performance consultant, Dr. Raymond Prior’s answer is: “I use good information and common sense.” This is the key to why you’ll enjoy reading his new book. It is disarmingly simple. As with competitive shooting where performance improves as we declutter our thinking, Bullseye Mind is clutter-free, allowing the reader to focus on topics like: Nerves are a Good Thing, The Purpose of a Record Shot, and Progress is Better than Perfection. The theory presented in each of the 17 chapters is reinforced with a practical example from an accomplished shooter or coach. While you’ll recognize some of the principles from other books, Prior’s unique contribution is his skill at balancing rich content with getting to the point. The result is a fresh and easily-digested assortment of solutions for shooting under pressure. Prior writes:

... The inconsistency Caroline was experiencing was not in her positions. Quite simply, her thinking depended on how her match started. When she shot 10s on her first few shots, Caroline would relax into a trusting mindset and shoot a controlled match. As a result of her mindset, she would shoot a great score and have a chance to win. But when Caroline shot poorly on her first few shots, she would get tense, lose trust in her technique, and her mind would be filled with worry… Caroline was letting the start of her match control her thinking. “What would happen if you shot each shot from a different shooting position?” asked Prior. “That would be awful. I would never know where my shots were going.” Caroline replied. “Exactly,” said Prior. “Your mind works the same way. If you want to shoot consistently, you have to think consistently.”

Prior makes effective use of text boxes and lists, thus avoiding the need for dog-eared pages and underlined phrases to recall key points. While careful not to use actual names, it is clear that the experiences shared in Bullseye Mind come from real-world examples, making the book credible and interesting. I believe shooters and coaches will enjoy reading Prior’s book and encourage you to search online for more of his work.  If you recognize Dr. Prior’s name, you may have read some of his articles that were recently published in Shooting Sports USA. To find these and other interesting articles, click here and search the magazine’s archives from the top right menu bar.

A native of New Mexico, Raymond Prior received a doctorate in Sport and Exercise Psychology from West Virginia University. For nearly a decade, he has been a consultant to Olympic shooters, collegiate teams and professional athletes. He was the National Rifle Association’s featured speaker at the 2016 Intercollegiate Pistol Championship at Ft. Benning, GA. For more information, refer to the RFP Sport and Performance Consulting website: www.rfpsport.com.

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