Zen and the Art of Skeet Shooting

Good skeet shooters think very little when they shoot successfully.   They say pull, react to the situation and the clay disintegrates.   It’s akin to a Zen meditation where the mind is not the driving influence of the action.  

Often when they miss, they know exactly what happens, usually before they pull the trigger.   Their mind is active and almost always is the cause of the miss. 

It’s the allure of sport.   The ability to have success without thought, with only reaction.  It’s the complete trust of self and it is a skill that takes years of training to develop at the highest level. 

Modern sports psychologists and mindset trainers call it “flow state.”   It’s the peak of performance, when the training the body has received is free to react without interference of the mind.   It is not a new concept. Buddha taught and understood it.   Bruce Lee referenced it in his book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.  It is a common theme in sport, but does it apply to other areas of our lives? 

Outside of sport, flow state is known by a variety of names.  Gut feelings, instincts and intuition are all versions of the same basic principal.   Something inside of us knows what the right thing to do is before we can logically figure it out.   How is that possible?   More importantly, how do we use it? 

Instincts in a scientific sense refer to a collection of unlearned reactions to stimuli that are passed down through a species and are part of individuals before birth.   In business, or relationships, we are often referring to something much different when we think of good “instincts.”   In these situations, they are unconscious lessons learned through experiences that influence our initial perception of a situation.  

Every situation that we endure influences our prejudices and bias towards similar future situations.   When you encounter a situation, your emotions are influenced by the memories of similar experiences that you have encountered.   That emotional reaction is what we think of as instinct, or intuition and why it is sometimes called a gut “feeling.” 

When you’re shooting skeet you encounter experiences you have faced before because the collection of shots in a round are always the same.   Past experience is able to influence current and future behavior in those situations.   Presumably, the more experience you have and the better you trust yourself and act upon it, the better skeet shooter you will be.   As long as you don’t allow your brain to create a “new” situation and try to logically process it.  

In the rest of your life, you often know just what to do when you run across a scenario similar to one you have encountered before.   Your first “instinct” is conditioned by previous experiences and often when you follow it, with just enough analysis to understand that you have encountered the situation before, you find the correct response with little thought.  

Why isn’t instinct perfect then?   Why can’t you just not think and shoot skeet, or make decisions perfectly?   Every situation has differences, no matter how similar they are.   In skeet shooting, the wind and Sun are factors that can make each shot unique from ones before it.   The more identical the situations, the more perfect our instinct should be.   The more different, the less transfer will come from previous experience.  

The key to learning to use this in every aspect of your life recognizing situations you have experienced before.   Take the feeling from your gut and compare it quickly to possible differences than trust yourself to act.  The results won’t be perfect, because every situation is unique in some way.   Odds are good though that it will be just as good as the results you achieve by over processing the information.   You will reach the conclusion with less stress and effort as well.  

Trust your gut, trust your experience and save your logical analysis for situations that are uncomfortable and new.  

Published by Mati Bishop

A Realtor with Keller Williams Yellowstone Properties. Agent Number 89757. Supervising broker Chris Fraser #37931 Publisher of MontanaBugle.com

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