From the vault: Timeless advice on how to maximize your advantages and minimize your disadvantages in competitive shooting. As transcribed from a 1984 NRA Silhouette National Championship seminar.
Maximize Your Advantages, Limit Your Disadvantages
By Jimmy Koon
In competitive shooting, try to limit all the disadvantages you can, and at the same time, maximize your advantages. This also includes your personal health. If you think you can perform well in spite of illness or injury, go ahead but don't get upset if you don't do well. Don't feel as if you have failed. Instead, acknowledge that you were at a disadvantage at the start.
Good concentration is one of the greatest advantages we have as shooters. When the person next to you has a gun that makes all kind of noise, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain your train of thought. Obviously, you are at a disadvantage. If you focus 110 percent of your thoughts on the target, you will regain your advantage. What has happened before or what is to come has no place in your thoughts. Sure, there are going to be distractions but try to block them out and maintain your concentration.
Even if someone next to you is shooting a semi-automatic pistol and ejecting brass towards you, you can't declare an alibi. Here's a story regarding a friend who had such intense concentration that it made an indelible impression on me. On one occasion, a spent casing came out of the gun next to him and landed on his neck. It wasn't until after he had finished firing his last shot, and he smelled burning flesh that he realized the casing had hit him. That is the extreme type of concentration that I hope to have someday. You must be totally focused on the target.
It's also important to minimize the disadvantages that food and drink can have on your body. A lot of folks like to imbibe. I personally cannot drink beer or Coke before a match. Coke has a lot of caffeine and tea or coffee have both caffeine and tannic acid. If your body can handle it, that's fine and dandy, but I would recommend not drinking carbonated drinks, coffee or tea. If you have become used to drinking Coke before every stage and are successful, I'm certainly not going to recommend that you quit drinking Coke. If you are going to quit, do it in advance, not on the day of a match.
Each one of us is an individual with different body requirements and needs. Some of us burn up fat and protein a lot faster than others. Try to learn which foods and drinks are the best for you. When it really comes down to the bottom line, I doubt that any one would say that drinking beer or smoking cigarettes helps their shooting.
Additionally, if you are going to be serious about shooting and you want to win, you have to give your body a break. You need six to eight hours of good sleep each night. It's nice to get together with all your friends when you have come a long distance for a national match, but we all know that if you are staying up too late you are cheating your body.