Match Jitters… Fundamentals of Marksmanship


Overcoming the stress of pistol competition will increase your scores exponentially. WHAT?!? We tend to think employing the Basic Fundamentals of Marksmanship precisely and simultaneously will ensure a perfect shot.  However, when it is our turn to go on the line and we can’t seem to find our sight black and we are rummaging frantically through our gear for “one last thing”, Match Jitters are taking over. When our head is pounding, our stomach is flipping and we suddenly experience all sorts of aches and pains, whether real or imagined, Match Jitters have stepped in. The worst case scenario is when we start thinking we might rather be at work than at the range. When we start thinking that maybe we should be putting in those extra overtime hours on the job to pay for our game rather than step up to the line to play our game, Match Jitters have metastasized to an almost incurable level. When we forget that the absolute worst day at the range is better than ANY day at work, we’ve got Match Jitters.


With that being said, what do you do? How do you make your body calm down and cooperate? How do you turn the clatter and chatter off that distorts rational thinking? We are highly trained competitors, yet, all of a sudden, we want to run and hide. And, for anyone who says they have never experienced this, they are flat out lying! Well, we know Match Jitters exist and there is only one way to deal with it. Someone said to me once, “Just shoot.” I about threw a fit right there I was so insulted. In fact, I was so mad the grand secret to overcoming match jitters was seemingly not revealed that I went on the line and shot a perfect score, setting my first National Record. And the “just shoot” concept finally sunk in.


It did come as a surprise to realize that absolute and total concentration in fully committing to employing the Basic Fundamentals of Marksmanship leaves no room for other thoughts or Match Jitters. When I am solely focusing on my entire body’s alignment (stance is not just where I place my feet), when I feel where every part of both my hands engages in a firm and consistent grip, when I consciously inhale and exhale and look at my sight alignment (not the air in between or past my front sight- you know you’ve done that, too), when I am aware of every line of my fingerprint consistently applying pressure to the trigger so I have no idea when the gun will fire, when I hold all this for a breath of a hair of a second so as not to disturb the path of the bullet while it travels down the muzzle of the gun, I will execute the perfect shot. The key is to do this consistently throughout the duration of the relay.


The lesson I learned, “just shoot” means that while I am completely focused on employing the Basic Fundamentals of Marksmanship, there is no room for any other thought, activity, awareness, or concern, Match Jitters are overcome.



Front Sight
Ignatius Piazza in World Net Daily
Ignatius Piazza
Ignatius Piazza Blog
Ignatius Piazza in Washington Post
Ignatius Piazza in Las Vegas Sun
Front Sight in CNN
Front Sight in London Times
Front Sight in Guns and Ammo
Ignatius Piazza in Forbes Magazine

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