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.

About admin

"I worked as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer for over 14 years, in a firearms carrying capacity. First assigned to LAX (1994), then to the Los Angeles/ Long Beach Seaport (1997-2007), I took an early retirement from my final duty station of El Paso, TX (2007-2008). Never having handled firearms prior to this job, I give full credit for my initial shooting lessons and safe firearms handling skills to the government. As I began to compete, I gleaned tips and coaching lessons from the best law enforcement instructors across the nation, turning myself into one of the best, too. I was a firearms instructor in Los Angeles and a national level competitor on a formally sponsored team from 1999 through 2003, being sent all over the nation for pistol match competitions. As a result of this gift of an experience, I went on to set five national records in the law enforcement shooting sports. Check in regularly to read about those and other adventures and misadventures!"
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