One of the many advantages of being an international competitive shooter is the amazing and unique countries I get to travel to. I recently travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan where my last World Cup of the year was held and have just returned home from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
For those who don’t know a lot about clay target shooting, this is a sport that is 80% mental and only 20% physical.
I could teach anyone reading this how to hit a target over and over again but when you place an individual in a more intense environment and ask them to do the same task the result generally changes. Why? Pressure!
This sport can be tough, it’s mentally demanding and individually challenging. You have to learn how to do deal with uncomfortable and stressful situations and implement techniques and routines to create a sense of calmness so that you can perform at your best when it’s needed.
I’ve lost many competitions over my eleven-year career because of pressure and expectation. But I have also come back and won a lot because I used those failures and disappointments as lessons and worked hard to correct my mistakes. In my opinion having a set routine is vital to keeping the nerves at bay.
My main goal for my last World Cup was to make the six-person final and really take advantage of the finals environment in preparation for my Olympic debut. It’s difficult to replicate pressure in training so this was my only option.
So, how did I go? I managed to make the final as well as the bronze medal match but just fell short of a medal narrowly missing my last target and finished fourth. Was I happy about coming fourth? No, of course not. But that’s just my competitive nature speaking out loud.
Overall it was a successful competition in doing what I needed to do to feel more comfortable in highly pressurised competition which helped me feel more prepared for Rio. The one thing I have learnt in the lead up to the Olympics is that the person who controls their nerves the best on the day wins.