Two weeks ago while shooting video at dusk for some cool muzzle flash shots I noticed a bad habit I had concocted (this happens a lot when you video yourself, which I did a LOT more with my bow because the mechanics are more obviously visible). Bad Habit: I was canting the pistol to my left. Canting basically means I’m holding the gun at an angle rather than on a perfect plumb line. At 10-30 feet it would be difficult to notice the accuracy effects of canting, but at 100 yards while shooting at a 6″ steel plate it’s magnified. I hit the steel plate a few times, but being that it was getting dark and I couldn’t see the impact I was at a loss. If I was going for “gangsta” form, then this is a habit I would let slide, but since it could potentially lead to a larger problem I’ve decided to pay close attention to it. The video helped me see something I needed to correct and be aware of for a time till my good habits can iron out the bad.
I’ve heard of other shooters using mantra’s such as B-R-A-S-S: Breath. Relax. Aim. Slack. Squeeze. OR there’s B-E-E-F from my basketball days meaning Balance, Eyes, Elbow, Follow thru. When I was shooting a thousand arrows a week with the intent of dominating the Hunter class of my 3D archery league I used an improvised mental checklist to help counter bad habits I was prone to while shooting my bow: B-A-R-F (I have a childish mind): BALANCE reminding me to start with my feet and shoulders in the correct location, AIR & ANCHOR reminding me to take a deep breath then exhale as I drew and to find my anchor points so my mechanics would be the same EVERY time, RELEASE reminding me to check level on my sights and keep my strong arm taut while I squeezed the trigger release, then FOLLOW THROUGH as a final reminder to keep my form in tact until the arrow struck the bull.
After years and years of shooting many develop habits so unconscious it becomes a part of the fiber of their being. But if you’re new, intermediate or just working at developing good shooting habits, coming up with a mental checklist to run through before each series, each drill or each shot can be the difference between helping you become a good shooter or a GREAT shooter.
*What about you? Do you have a mental checklist to help you develop good habits for staying on target?