Take a look at the picture below.
It’s a dot, surrounded by a “cloud of doubt.”
Now, take a deep breath or two, and focus deeply on the dot until the cloud disappears.
Crazy, isn’t it?
If you have trouble at first, try moving closer (elbow’s length from your screen) or further (hand’s length). If that doesn’t work, try it with just your right eye open, then with just your left eye open, and then with both eyes again.
What’s even crazier is that what some think is a simple parlor trick can make you a better—much better—shooter.
There are a lot of things happening here.
First off, when you focus intensely on something small with a pursuit movement of the eye, you turn on big chunks of the brain that are normally sitting idle or running in low gear.
Second, if you’ve ever played sports or done something that you love and suddenly found that it was effortless, you’re familiar with being “in the zone” “alpha state” or even “flow state.” Amazingly enough, intense focus is one of the best ways to trigger your mind to go into “the zone.”
You just experienced a tiny taste of alpha state, low-grade flow state, or being in the zone, when you stared at the dot and the cloud disappeared.
And if you’ve competed in sports, you may have used visual focus to get into the zone without knowing what you were doing or what it was called.
25+ years ago, my basketball coach drove it into my head to intently stare at a “period” or one of the dimples on the basketball for a few seconds before shooting free-throws. I played college volleyball and my coach taught me the same thing for serving. I don’t golf anymore, but when I did I was taught to never swing at the ball—always swing at a specific dimple on the ball.
In each case, focus helps engage more parts of the brain and can put you in the zone. The technique only works every time it’s used.
When you’re in the zone in basketball, the basket looks as big as a hula-hoop. In golf, the ball goes exactly where you want it to go. In music, brilliant things come out of you that you didn’t know were possible.
When you’re in the zone, your brain chokes out fear and self-doubt. To semi-quote Yoda, in the zone,
There is no “try.” There is only “do.”
Most people don’t realize how much of shooting is emotionally driven.
Shooting is exciting and the bang of the gun causes lots of neurotransmitters to be released in the brain. Some neurotransmitters make you feel good, like dopamine and serotonin.
And the excited anticipation of the gun going “bang” and your brain’s desire to get a hit of dopamine, can cause you to rush your shots, mash the trigger, or jerk the trigger.
At the same time, many people fear recoil and unconsciously try to push the muzzle of the gun down to fight recoil…also called anticipatory flinch.
Then you’ve got fear of failure, performance anxiety, good or bad associations with firearms, good or bad memories, and a whole slew of emotional triggers that can get tripped when you go to shoot.
These emotional and chemical drivers are in play for all shooters to one degree or another…from newbie to career operator…but they’re obviously more of an issue for some than others.
If you could simply take emotions out of the process, you could compress the trigger straight back to the rear without mashing, jerking, or flinching and hit exactly where you want every time, regardless of how stressful the situation is.
Shooting “in the zone” in “alpha state” or even in “flow state” is how you make this happen.
At first, you might have to focus for a few seconds before your mind calms down. As you do it more and more, the quicker your mind will calm down and the more you’ll be able to stay in control of your emotions and compress the trigger straight to the rear and put rounds exactly where you want them to go.
Eventually, you can get into a habit of going into alpha state every time you look at your front sight…the same state that you got into when you stared at the dot and the cloud disappeared.
Think about that.
If going into alpha state helps you control your emotions when shooting paper, do you think that it might help you control your emotions better in a stressful shooting situation?
And when you are able to control your emotions in a stressful situation, you’ll retain more of your fine and complex motor skills, make better decisions, and execute muscle memory or neural pathways faster and more accurately.
I’m taking it for granted that you’re one of the 5 million people who has seen this video where I shot 17 rounds through a 1.1” hole in 11 seconds from 11 feet away after taking 6 months off of live fire practice.
Being able to put rounds where you want them to go does a LOT of good in a self-defense situation.
And repeatedly putting rounds through the same hole in practice is simply an indication that grip, support grip, trigger press, visual focus, visual suppression, oxygenation, and emotional control are all dialed in and can be executed on command without conscious thought…which is very important in self-defense and competition when you add in speed, distance, movement, low-light, and stress.
You can add in speed like this:
React, draw, and put 10 rounds on target in 2.83 seconds with a Glock 26 sub-compact.
This is 100 yards with a Glock 26 subcompact 9mm.
And, when you’ve got the fundamentals dialed in, the bullets go where you want them to go.
So, you might be wondering what you need to do take advantage of visual/mental hacks like the disappearing “cloud of doubt” to help you shoot faster and more accurately, regardless of whether you’re shooting for fun or to save a life.
First, as you’re doing your Dry Fire Training Cards drills or your Dry Fire Fit drills, make sure that you’re visually locking in on your front sight…I use appliance paint to put a tiny pin-sized white dot above the white dot on my front sight to focus on. It’s about 1/5th the width of my front sight.
Second, bookmark this page and come back to it several times per day over the next week to look at the dot and the cloud. When the cloud disappears, pump your fist and get a little excited so that your brain learns to reward focus. The more times you do it over the next 7 days, the more you’ll train your brain to go straight into alpha or flow state when you concentrate on the dot or your front sight.
And third, I strongly suggest that you go through Matt and Sherrie Seibert’s Deadly Accuracy Home Study Course (for PC’s only) by clicking >HERE<. The disappearing cloud of doubt comes directly from their course and it is one of the main tools that I used to be able to shoot the 17 round 1-hole-challenge.
The course covers the mental dynamics of shooting that few shooters realize exist, but are incredibly powerful and high leverage.
How high leverage?
Earlier today, I was talking with a buddy of mine who spends a good bit of time overseas in dangerous areas. He was just in a class and the instructor (who is a well-respected SEAL) said that he could get anyone shooting one hole groups…just give him a few days and a few thousand rounds.
Matt and Sherrie have helped over 5,000 shooters shoot 1 hole groups within 20 minutes of stepping onto the range after firing less than a single box of ammo—that’s high leverage.
If you want to train with them live, in-person, it’s $1,300 for a 2 day class and they’re booked 6 months out, even though they’re running classes 20-25 days per month. But I’ve got 2 opportunities for you to go through their home study courses for a fraction of that price and without the wait…
So to get Deadly Accuracy, click >HERE<
Second, we’ve got their Speed Shooting and Eye Dominance home study course. This combination is truly rocket fuel. Speed shooting will show you how to take the accuracy that you developed in the Deadly Accuracy program and give it a shot of nitro. The section on “Eye Dominance” is one that every instructor and shooter in the country needs to see. A lot of accuracy issues that are blamed on mechanical issues (too much/too little trigger on the finger) are really eye dominance issues. In short, there are accuracy issues that you’ll never fix until you understand eye dominance. Get this right in training, and you’ll get it right when it counts. But if you continue to fumble around in training, you know how you’ll perform when it counts. I don’t have much describing this course…other than to say that you need to get it 🙂 Learn more and act now by going >HERE<
Questions? Comments? Fire for effect by commenting below…