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  • Writer's pictureMemphis Beech

Do you forget your stage plan? Here’s the solution.


You'll hear it at every match.

"As soon as that timer beeps, I brain-dump everything." You'll see it as well. A shooter will be doing fine in a stage, right until they start looking around for where to go next. This is usually because of a kink in the plan, but often it seems to happen for no apparent reason. The stage plan was simply lost!


The best solutions I have found come from Steve Anderson of AndersonShooting.com and from Michael Seeklander of Shooting-Performance.com.

And I'll share them with you here.


Here's three possible reasons why you keep forgetting your stage plan:


  1. You have not created a stage plan. You're just gonna "wing it."

  2. Your stage plan isn't good enough.

  3. You have not drilled that stage plan into your subconscious.


Let's cover these reasons more in depth.


1. You have not created a stage plan. You're just gonna "wing it."


I see this a ton in IDPA, because of how structured and procedural that game is. Most shooters at the class of Sharpshooter or Expert will tell you that it's intuitive.


That's not the problem.


The problem is when hiccups happen, like missing the steel popper or fumbling the reload. Those are enough to foil even the simplest of stage plans.


When mistakes happen, you need to have the mental discipline to stick with your plan. If that's no longer possible, then have the flexibility to adjust on the fly, and trust yourself to do so.


The more you exercise those abilities, the stronger they will become. So seek out more opportunities at local matches to stick to your stage plan in spite of hiccups.


2. Your stage plan is not good enough.


As Steve Anderson would say, "You need to know that stage inside and out." Your stage plan should play to your strengths.


Courtesy of AndersonShooting.com

You will need to be mindful about your performance in matches, to identify your personal strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can play to your strengths in the moment, and work on your weaknesses in dry practice until they also become strengths. If you got your stage plan from a GM, and you're a C-Class, you may have included elements that are beyond your current skill level.


Your stage plan does not have to be perfect. It just needs to work for you. The shooter that wins a stage is not always the best shooter. It isn't even the shooter with the best stage plan. It's the shooter that executes their stage plan the best, for that stage.


And it's not the best shooter that wins the match. It's the best competitor.


3. You have not drilled the stage plan into your subconscious mind.


Michael Seeklander is a guy that I look up to. He notices that most shooters aren’t doing the mental work required. He has a great way of making this point in classes.


Courtesy of Shooting-Performance.com

(Not verbatim but you’ll get it)

  • Raise your hand if you close your eyes and visualize yourself executing your stage plan. The whole class raises their hands.

  • Raise your hand if you do that multiple times before you execute your stage plan. A few hands drop, but most are still raised.

  • Raise your hand if you do it five times or more. Half the class would raise their hands.

  • How about 10 times or more? Only one or two hands will be raised.

  • How about 20 times or more? None of the hands are raised.

  • If you ask the super squad at Nationals how many would close their eyes and visualize themselves executing their stage plan 20 times or more, they ALL would raise their hands.


This example really punctuates to me why I personally kept forgetting my stage plans. I simply did not drill the stage plan into my own head with enough mental reps.


It's a skill that's so important to me, I will even practice it in dry fire. I intentionally dry fire my stage planning. I place random target arrays on the wall, and I only give myself one run at it. I dry practice the mental prep that I expect to use in matches.


I took a couple of classes from Steve Anderson, and he said the same thing. As part of his Anderson Insider program, I got some private coaching from him, and it was money well spent! "You’ve got to get enough visual rehearsals to run that stage from your subconscious." Again, not verbatim but you get it.


You really should not be thinking your way thru your stage. Your footwork, your reloads, even your trigger press should be running from your subconscious. The only thing I actively, consciously think about is placing my sights on the target, right down to the individual paster.


I pick a spot on that target, I place my dot there, and I keep it there while I press the trigger.


Everything else is automated. Those thoughts are contracted out to my subconscious, and I TRUST my subconscious to do it.


I cannot give you a number for how many Master and GrandMaster level shooters I see that literally close their eyes and visualize their performance as they prepare. There are too many to count. Nearly all of them do it, and it's necessary to perform at that level.


So to recap:

  1. You have not created a stage plan. You're just gonna "wing it."

  2. Your stage plan isn't good enough.

  3. You have not drilled that stage plan into your subconscious.


Please, I invite you to try it for yourself!! Leave a comment below about how you mentally prep for a stage. Hit me up if you have questions. But please, try this at your next match. Or even your next dry fire session.

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1 commento


jackkeane1
10 nov 2023

it’s my Achilles heel. Forgetting targets. doable targets costs me. As a rookie shooter my goal is shoot all targets.

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