By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published February 16, 2017
Champion competition shooter Vera Koo continues her series on practical and common sense advice for competition shooters and training regimens. In this installment, she lays out why you must train in inclement weather.
When Doug Koenig offers advice, you listen. I will never forget the advice Doug offered me about 15 years ago, when I was still fairly new to competitive shooting. I had asked Doug what he thought the most important element was to performing well at the Bianchi Cup. His answer consisted of one word: Preparation.
Throughout my career, I have learned how true that is. Consistency comes from a great deal of preparation and practice. At this level of competition, everyone in the field is a talented marksman. The top performers are the shooters who make the fewest mistakes. Preventing mistakes often stems from proper preparation. Proper preparation includes training in all kinds of weather. I need to know how weather might hinder my performance. The only way to learn that is to practice in various conditions and temperatures.
Wet weather The 2007 European Open, at which I won the women’s championship, proved that training in adverse weather pays off. I had practiced shooting in the rain for 5 years before that event. I welcomed rainy days, because they offered a chance to hone my skills. I’d practiced in heavy rain. Yet, I’d never competed in the rain – at least, not until that 2007 event in Phillipsburg, Germany. During a day of competition, it rained harder than the rate technically allowed for matches. However, match directors felt there was no makeup opportunity, and the competition continued. A fellow competitor asked me if I would join her in protesting the match because of the conditions. I saw no reason to protest. Everyone was going to shoot in the same conditions, and I had prepared for this day. The entire plate range was soaked except for a few spots. Going prone meant diving into water and having it splash on your scope. I had learned from my years practicing in the rain that you can’t allow yourself to sense moisture. You can’t see the raindrops on your scope. Being aware of the moisture leads to distracted thoughts. Distracted thoughts lead to diminished performance. I felt some anxiety while I waited my turn, but that was not a problem. When I feel a little anxious, it helps me become hyper-focused. I had tunnel vision during the competition. My training kicked in. Although it was pouring, I could not feel the moisture. I could not see the raindrops. After I finished shooting, I looked at my scope. It was covered in raindrops. But I had cleaned the stage. I told my husband afterward, “Well, I didn’t waste my time. I practiced 5 years for that.”