Ep. 07: Train Your Brain to WinIn this episode of The Silvercore Podcast, we will discuss Ryan’s mental management process shortly before he leaves to compete in an attempt to win the National Service Rifle Championship for the sixth year in a row.
Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products that we offer. As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:45] This is a first for The Silvercore Podcast. We’re going to be doing a two part series. In the following two episodes, I have the unique opportunity of talking mental management with Ryan Steacy, who has won the national service rifle championship five years in a row, and at the time of this recording is preparing to leave the compete in an attempt to make it number six.
[00:01:06] What’s really interesting is despite the fact that Ryan is a competitive athlete in the world of rifle shooting, the mental management process Ryan describes as one that has been quantifiably proven to help anybody achieve more in their particular field as well as life in general. In the next episode, Ryan and I will regroup after the competition to see if his mental management program permits him to make it a win six years in a row, or if there are aspects that need to be adjusted.
[00:01:34] If you could use a wins in your life or if you’re celebrating wins and would like to be able to replicate them consistently, pay attention. The following two podcasts contain information that, if properly applied, will literally improve your life.
[00:01:48] Really what I want to do, I want to get into the nuts and bolts cause we were just talking off my career. And one thing that you mentioned, which kind of stuck here is you’re the disciple of Linda Miller and Keith Cunningham.
Ryan Steacy: [00:02:00] Yeah. Definitely.
Travis Bader: [00:02:02] And we’re talking about mental marksmanship.
Ryan Steacy: [00:02:05] Yeah. Those two folks are, they are the, well, there’s a guy in the States named Lanny Bassham, sort of started all this thing, and he was a US Olympic shooter, and he has a book, a really good book, it’s very simple to the point. But Keith and Linda really have taken it and run with it, and their book mental marksmanship for rifle shooters is like my Bible as far as shooting at an elite level goes.
[00:02:34] Like I told you previously in other podcasts that we’re all generally pretty good trigger pullers, but when it comes down to separating the elite level shooters from the non elite level shooters, really it’s the mental side of the game. You know, the saying 90% or 80% mental or whatever it is. It’s 100% true. It’s 100% true.
Travis Bader: [00:02:56] You know, I actually have that book. I actually brought that book out off the off of the bookshelf today and threw it on my bed. I’m like, I’m going to read this. I’m finally going to get down to read this, I’ve got about 15 books on the go at the moment. None of them have I finished, my ADHD takes me from one to the next to the next. I’m going to have to sit down and read this book because I’m deeply, deeply intrigued by the concept of mental marksmanship.
[00:03:23] It’s something that I found for myself hugely, hugely helps my game when I’m a pistol shooting rifle, shooting, anything. The immediate feedback that you get when you hit that target as to whether your head’s in the right place or it isn’t, it’s satisfying and it’s rather, it’s instantaneous. I mean, when my head’s in a poor place, it shows.
Ryan Steacy: [00:03:48] Yeah, for sure. Well, as far as reading the book goes, that should be the beginning of your mental management program. You should read a single chapter as a small goal every time.
Travis Bader: [00:04:01] Oh I like it.
Ryan Steacy: [00:04:02] And go from there right.
Travis Bader: [00:04:03] I like it.
Ryan Steacy: [00:04:05] But yeah, no, you’re 100% right. The mental management side of it is a huge portion. It gives you the feedback, it gives you the thrill, it allows you to feel what it’s like to win. Being able to control those, all those emotions and thoughts that your brain sort of feeds into your mind at inopportune times is, for me, super challenging and really interesting on, you sort of think about well why is my mind saying that right now and how do I deal with it? You know, I’m in the middle of a national competition and my mind is telling me that I’m probably gonna miss on the next shot. Like you know, how do you deal with it? So.
Travis Bader: [00:04:41] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:04:41] The, Keith and Linda and their book is, it goes through all of that stuff and it tells you how to manage it and it’s quite the book. I read it at least once a year.
Travis Bader: [00:04:49] You were talking about how you are a subconscious shooter.
Ryan Steacy: [00:04:53] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:04:53] And you actually drew me in the image, which is going to be a little bit more difficult to relay through audio here, but can you talk a little bit about what that means to be a subconscious shooter?
Ryan Steacy: [00:05:03] Sure. So there’s several portions to your mindset, one of them is your conscious mind and the second one is your self image or your ego, and the third one is your subconscious mind. So your conscious mind allows you to do the stuff that you need to do on a target. Like for example, your conscious mind allows you to focus on the sight picture and all that kind of stuff, right?
Travis Bader: [00:05:26] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:05:26] Say I’m a rifle shooter, so we’ll talk rifles. It allows you to focus on the sight picture, which is all important because when that shot breaks, you want to make sure that the sight picture is actually on the target and not somewhere else. Then you have your self image, which is your ego, that allows you, or in some cases, doesn’t allow you to think that you are good enough to actually achieve what it is that you’re attempting to achieve.
[00:05:49] So like for me, at a national competition, I always go into any competition thinking I’m going to win. And it’s not something that I go in and I brag about, but it’s something that’s always on my mind. It’s like, I’m going to fire a lot of good shots here, and if I just fire all these good shots, then I’m going to win this and nobody can stop me. Some people take it as arrogance and in some cases maybe it is a little bit of arrogance and those people don’t quite have the self image in check. So the self image is running a little bit rampant over the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.
Travis Bader: [00:06:22] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:06:22] So that’s something that, you know, if you really want to take it to that next level, you have to get a grip on your self image. It’s okay to know and to think that you’re going to win. But when you’re running around telling everybody you’re going to kick their butts and all that other stuff, then it was probably a pretty good chance that your yourself image is a little bit out of control.
Travis Bader: [00:06:41] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:06:41] And like you mentioned earlier, generally speaking, people that have that sort of self image unchecked, generally don’t do all that well. They tend to lose it in the end, and they don’t perform the way they want to perform so.
Travis Bader: [00:06:57] That’s what I’ve seen. It’s been my experience.
Ryan Steacy: [00:06:59] Yeah, it’s pretty common, yeah. So we have the conscious mind which controls the, like the sight picture, that kind of stuff. Your self image, which allows you to think that you’re going to win because the reality is, is if you think you’re not going to win, guess what, you’re not gonna win.
Travis Bader: [00:07:15] I had a teacher, grade 10, I think it was at the time. And he says, Travis, what a man thinks, he will do.
Ryan Steacy: [00:07:20] Yup.
Travis Bader: [00:07:21] And I said.
Ryan Steacy: [00:07:22] What does that mean?
Travis Bader: [00:07:23] I had no idea what he meant by that. He said, think about it, what a man thinks, he will do.
Ryan Steacy: [00:07:26] Yup.
Travis Bader: [00:07:27] And.
Ryan Steacy: [00:07:28] It’s really, it’s kinda the same thing.
Travis Bader: [00:07:29] It is. Yes.
Ryan Steacy: [00:07:30] So I mean, on the reverse side of that, if you don’t think you’re gonna win, like I’ve had people come up to me and you know, I’ve won the odd match here and there, and they’ll come up to me and go, oh, you’re here. Right off the bat, and I know that they’re not going to be able to touch me. Cause they’re not giving themselves enough credit to be able to shoot. So that self image portion of their mind is not able to allow them to actually win.
[00:07:56] It’s one of the things I always told the army, I mean, you know, how do we train the soldiers to shoot at certain levels and do this stuff? And I go, well, you’ve got to allow them to succeed. You can’t put all these roadblocks in front of them in order to get them to succeed. So, you know, there’s always some units where like, oh you know, you can’t have the rifles and we only have this much ammo and training days. It’s just, you know, there’s a lot of, it’s too much paperwork to do this.
Travis Bader: [00:08:24] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:08:25] Yeah okay. Well, if those are going to be your issues, then you’re probably not going to allow your troops to shoot at the level that you’re hoping that they’re going to shoot at. That’s the same with your mind. So your mind has to allow you to be able to shoot at that level and it has to accept that, hey, I’m good enough to be able to shoot at this level.
Travis Bader: [00:08:44] Can you talk me through a before, during, and after sort of process? So before you go to a match, during the match, and then is there an after component? Is there.
Ryan Steacy: [00:08:53] There’s always an after component.
Travis Bader: [00:08:55] A mental debrief.
Ryan Steacy: [00:08:56] Yeah, there’s always a mental debrief. Before we go there, why don’t we just touch on the subconscious portion of this thing, because it’s one of the three sort of legs of the stool here. So we have the conscious mind which controls itself, sight pictures and the conscious stuff. The self image, which allows you to think that you can win and then you have the subconscious mind, which controls all this stuff that’s not conscious basically. So as a rifle shooter, your conscious mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Which has to be having that sight picture on the target when the gun goes bang.
Travis Bader: [00:09:28] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:09:29] So making the gun go bang has to be a subconscious portion of that because otherwise you’re removing your focus off the sight picture onto pressing trigger. The subconscious portion of it is by far, the most important part of it because it controls the mechanics of the gun, makes the gun shoot when the sight pictures right. So the connection between the conscious and the subconscious is pretty important because the conscious lets you see that sight picture and then the subconscious pulls the trigger when the sight picture is correct.
Travis Bader: [00:10:01] So the subconscious would be trained through perfect practice.
Ryan Steacy: [00:10:05] Yes, absolutely, you betcha. And I mean, for me, really all I train is to be more subconscious on the trigger than the next guy. So when my eye sees the right sight picture, that gun shoots. You’ve probably had that, when you shooting a rifle and you see the right sight picture and the gun goes off and you’re like, holy crap, I didn’t even think I pulled the trigger.
Travis Bader: [00:10:28] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:10:29] Well, you pulled the trigger. That was your subconscious pulling the trigger, and it did it probably at the right time. If you went down there and looked at that shot that you just fired, I’m sure it would probably be pretty awesome. It would be exactly where you wanted it to be. So the goal is to make every single shot you fire one of those subconscious shots so that they go exactly where you want to see you at the right time.
Travis Bader: [00:10:50] So is that done through strictly live-fire, strictly mental role-play? A combination of both?
Ryan Steacy: [00:10:56] Yeah, it can be a combination of both. The interesting thing is that the subconscious mind doesn’t understand the difference between live fire and dry fire. So an example I usually use is, you ever watched the Olympics when the guys are doing those crazy ski jumps in the winter?
Travis Bader: [00:11:12] Mhmm.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:13] And they’re standing at the top of the ramp before they go down there and they’ve got their eyes closed and they’re waving their arms around and doing all this weird twisting and stuff, what are they doing?
Travis Bader: [00:11:24] Walking themselves through in their mind.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:25] They’re doing the exact jump in their mind.
Travis Bader: [00:11:26] Exactly.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:27] And so your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between imagining that perfect jump, but actually thinking about that perfect jump. So if you can do that perfect jump in your mind, your subconscious absorbs that, and that’s just as good as actually going out there and doing it.
Travis Bader: [00:11:46] Interesting. And you talked before off mic about muscle memory.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:50] Yeah. I have my own theory on muscle memory.
Travis Bader: [00:11:53] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:54] So to me, there is no such thing as muscle memory.
Travis Bader: [00:11:57] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:11:58] Muscle memory is actually your subconscious mind just understanding and fully knowing what you need to do. So like in service rifle shooting, for example, we shoot in the kneeling position. So my mind knows exactly what a perfect kneeling position feels like. It knows where my arms have to be, it knows where my legs need to be. It knows where, how I have to be oriented towards the target so I can pretty much run up onto the mound after running a hundred metres, drop into a kneeling.
[00:12:29] And if I check my body position I’m super, super close to where I need to be because my mind knows what that perfect kneeling position feels like. So it’s not muscle memory, your muscles don’t remember anything, but your mind does and you get there through repetition. Now that repetition quite often has to be conscious repetition before it sinks in and becomes subconscious. So when I’m teaching guys shooting, I always say that the road to being subconscious is paved with a thousand or 10,000 conscious shots.
[00:13:05] So you may shoot a whole pile of shots when you think the site picture is correct and you’re yanking on that trigger to get the gun to fire when the sight picture is correct, you’re taking your focus off the sight picture to pull the trigger and get that squeeze. But if you do that enough times, eventually when your eye sees the correct sight picture.
[00:13:24] You’re going to squeeze a trigger subconsciously, and then it’s going to, you’re going to clue in that, hey, whoa, hang on a sec there, what happened? I saw the right sight picture and gun just fired itself. And that’s what you have to reproduce in order to become super subconscious and getting to that level where you can make subconscious shots as is all the time is tricky for people. That takes training, but not probably the way you would think.
Travis Bader: [00:13:48] So I read an article about building into the subconscious and about muscle memory in and I agree, your muscles don’t remember anything.
Ryan Steacy: [00:13:57] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:13:57] The article is talking about sleep and about how the brain starts saving, downloading that information during your sleep cycle, you reach a point of diminishing returns throughout your practice session.
Ryan Steacy: [00:14:09] Yep.
Travis Bader: [00:14:10] Go to sleep, wake up the next day, and all of a sudden, it’s easier.
Ryan Steacy: [00:14:13] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:14:13] You’re.
Ryan Steacy: [00:14:14] It’s ingrained into you. It’s become subconscious.
Travis Bader: [00:14:16] Right. It starts to get a little bit more and a little bit more. So I would have to imagine as well, throughout that process, if you’re practicing to the point of failure, that failure would probably start to become ingrained as well.
Ryan Steacy: [00:14:30] You know, that’s an awesome point. And Keith and Linda always told me that, in your practice sessions, you shoot a good string of targets or whatever, you shoot a bunch of good shots in a row and you’re starting to get towards that point where you’re getting tired or whatever the case may be. Wrap it up on a good note. So you stop on a good note, that exact same thing happens. You know what it feels like, your body knows what it feels like to win.
[00:14:58] So that final shot that you fired was a good one. Wrap up on that and remember what that felt like. And then you go to sleep, you refresh, you come back the next day or whatever your next training cycle is. You remember the feeling of that last shot that you fired and you can, your body sort of almost goes into that state immediately.
Travis Bader: [00:15:18] I like it.
Ryan Steacy: [00:15:19] Yeah and it’s the same for winning. You know, honestly and it’s hard to get there sometimes, but sometimes the best thing for somebody to get to a state where they’re winning all the time is just to win once. And your body knows that, oh, I can do that no problem and it felt really awesome. And then you come back the next time and you’ve got a really good chance at winning again, because you know what that state feels like, and you know how good, and you know what that endorphin rush feels like and how amazing it actually is to do that. And your body wants to reproduce it, and then you have to go back to your subconscious and make sure that you shoot good shots to make it all happen.
Travis Bader: [00:16:01] Thinking about this perfect practice makes perfect.
Ryan Steacy: [00:16:04] Yep.
Travis Bader: [00:16:05] Are there ever times that you go out to the range to practice only to be in such a negative head space to say, I’m not going to do this. I’m going to wrap up, I’m just going to head back home.
Ryan Steacy: [00:16:15] Yeah. There have been times where, I mean for me, I’m at a sort of a space in my head with that, that I would probably not even hit the range. But there have been times when I’m like, I’m going to go practice and then you know, it’s been a bad day or whatever and I just can’t do it and I’ll just skip it. I’d rather skip then to go in there with the wrong mindset and start to ingrain that sort of negative mindset into myself.
Travis Bader: [00:16:45] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:16:46] During a practice session because if I wrap up on that negative mindset and I go to sleep or going to have the exact same thing, but the opposite effect of what we just talked about a second ago, where you end on that winning note, your body feels that endorphin rush and you, you know what it feels like. Well, if you end on a bad note, you’re probably going to start on a bad note the next time.
Travis Bader: [00:17:08] You know, that applies to so many different areas of your life as well, not just in marksmanship.
Ryan Steacy: [00:17:13] Yep. It’s totally true.
Travis Bader: [00:17:15] Having actually achieved something, knowing what it’s like to win, makes it so much easier the next time. Even in, I look in business, I remember years ago starting out trying to fumble my way through, figure out my way in business. And friends who are more accomplished would say, oh it’s super easy, you just need to do this, or you just need to do that. And it almost seems insurmountable at that point.
[00:17:40] But once you do it, if some were to ask me now to reproduce what I’ve done in the last 20 or so years, I could do it in a heartbeat. It is, it’s dead easy. That next step, the unseen step that a haven’t taken yet, that seems difficult.
Ryan Steacy: [00:17:56] Yeah sure.
Travis Bader: [00:17:57] But once you take it, it’s ingrained, you know, the path, you know the success.
Ryan Steacy: [00:18:02] Yeah. Winning is actually quite easy. Once you get a taste of it and your body loves it, your mind loves it and it wants to reproduce it at every chance that it can. You’ve also sort of figured out all the steps to get to that point. So once those are ingrained in subconscious in you, then it’s easy because you don’t have to go through all that process. I’ll give you an example, right? Like I’m a pretty good service rifle shooter.
Travis Bader: [00:18:29] You’re okay.
Ryan Steacy: [00:18:29] I’m alright. I do okay.
Travis Bader: [00:18:31] Yeah.
Ryan Steacy: [00:18:31] I’ve been shooting a lot of PRS lately, which is a precision rifle series where you’re shooting weird positions and bolt guns and you’re engaging multiple targets that are all steel out to some crazy distances and some crazy wins. I was in a match in Hanna Alberta last week and it was like a massive, massive eyeopener for me. I made so many stupid mistakes, I think, because I couldn’t get the process down almost.
Travis Bader: [00:19:02] What do you mean by that?
Ryan Steacy: [00:19:03] Well, in service rifle, there’s certain things that you do that lead you in that direction of putting good shots on the paper right. I have that process pretty well down, but in PRS you, each stage is different. The winds are different every time, the targets are engaged in certain orders. You may be engaging four or five different targets in one stage. Each one of those targets has a different wind call. So how do you deal with that?
[00:19:30] Guys are running a Kestrel wind metres, which give you dope, and they give you your wind calls and all that kind of stuff. It’s an awesome tool, but you have to have that written down somewhere so that you can look at it on the fly when you’re engaging target number three, your wind calls should be this, I hold here, you know, whatever the case may be.
[00:19:48] And getting all those wind calls for multiple different targets along with the holds and the dope, and trying to figure out what positions I have to do, what order I have to engage the targets in, was so overwhelming for me that I would focus specifically on those things. Like the wind calls in particular because we were out in Hanna Alberta.
Travis Bader: [00:20:09] Interesting.
Ryan Steacy: [00:20:09] It’s 10 kilometres in any direction, so the wind just rips through and does all kinds of crazy stuff so.
Travis Bader: [00:20:15] Was this the Furlong shoot?
Ryan Steacy: [00:20:16] Yeah, this is Rob Furlongs place. And so for me it was a, it was very focused on trying to get the right wind calls for all these different distances. So there were at least two stages where I got up there and I got all these wind calls written down on my arm and I’m looking at all my stuff, and I’m good to go. So I hold here and I engage in this thing and they get down there and a fire the first shot, and it’s like, I see a splash and it’s like 50 metres below the target in the dirt.
Travis Bader: [00:20:44] Ouch.
Ryan Steacy: [00:20:44] In front of the target. And I’m like, what the heck just happened there? And stupidly, I think that must’ve been a weird round. I fire another one and it lands in exactly the same place, and I’m like, what the hell just happened? And then I look up at my scope and I realize I’ve so focused on getting all those wind calls. I didn’t dial any dope on my scope, just stupid stuff like that. So I ended up in 37th place, which is was okay considering, I think it was my second real PRS match.
[00:21:13] But it was an awesome match in that I learned a pile of stuff about what I need to be able to do for that whole thing and what part has to be subconscious, what has to be focused on. And then I made other stupid mistakes, like there was a moving target and I was relying on the Kestrel too much. And I punched in the numbers on the Kestrel and it told me I had a mill lead that I had to hold in front of the target and it was only 530 yards or something.
[00:21:38] Well, I shot movers on Volks at 600 metres before and I never had a middle lead on the target. And I mean, what are you thinking? So I, I went off the Kestrel and I fired the first shot and it’s a miss. And I’m thinking, where the heck is that going his way in front of the target? And then I went back after and I looked at it and I go, you idiot, you shoulda just hold the leading edge with maybe a little bit of daylight there and you would hit it all day long cause you’ve done it at Volks a million times before.
Travis Bader: [00:22:05] So you, you talk about small chunks. Taking small steps towards your win.
Ryan Steacy: [00:22:11] Yup.
Travis Bader: [00:22:12] Do you treat failure in the same way? So if you pull a shot, is that one small failure and then it’s gone. If you did a match and you did poorly or not as well as you’d like to, is that one. How does mental marksmanship play in to it?
Ryan Steacy: [00:22:26] Yeah. So for me I have to, obviously if you have a failure of some type, you have to address it. But that addressing, it can’t be in the middle of the match. So if I have a shot and it’s a miss or whatever like for example, in service rifle, we shoot at these figure twelves on a stick, which are handheld by a guy in the butts, and he puts it up and you’re standing.
[00:22:50] So you’re in a very unstable position and it’s very easy to know if you shanked one off the target into the dirt because there’s a sand berm behind the target and you can see exactly where your splash went. So if you, and I mean five points can win or lose you a national championship, right?
Travis Bader: [00:23:04] Sure.
Ryan Steacy: [00:23:04] Each shot is worth five points. So if you shank one off into the dirt. And you start to lose your mind cause you just dumped five points into the sand, that is going to affect you for the rest of the shots. Now, I always think, I have a job to do and the job is to put all the rest of the targets that are still possible bullseyes into that bullseye.
[00:23:27] So that one that I shanked off into the dirt, I have to divorce that one immediately. So that shot, it’s like it doesn’t even happen. I don’t think about it. It’s like, yep, okay that one went into the dirt, next. And then you’re onto your next shots and you have to get focused on that sight picture again with your conscious mind and get that subconscious trigger pull again.
[00:23:47] Shoot when a sight pictures right. And then after the match you have to address what happened at the match. But I always find that if I just think about it a bit and go as a stupid mistake, a lot like this stuff, I did it at Rob Furlongs.
Travis Bader: [00:24:00] Sure.
Ryan Steacy: [00:24:01] Think about it, address it, figuring out how to get around it and then carry on. That’s all you need. Can’t dwell on it.
Travis Bader: [00:24:08] Yeah. It’s the, that’s a part a lot of people get hung up on.
Ryan Steacy: [00:24:11] A lot of people do, and you know, we used to see it and when I was shooting on the military teams, you’d have guys that would be kicking butt and they’d have a problem in a match and dump a whole pile of points and they’d be a write off for the rest of the thing. And when you’re shooting in a team match, all the points accumulate from every shooter.
[00:24:30] So if you have one guy that dumps five points and then loses his mind and loses another 30 or 40 points after that because he can’t refocus on the task at hand, then the whole team suffers right? So it was always interesting watching people manage that kind of thing. Yeah, you had a crappy shoot on this one. Okay let’s divorce that, put it aside and carry on and shoot good shots for the rest of what you got left because we don’t want to dump any more points.
Travis Bader: [00:24:56] Do you have any tips on how to divorce that? Cause sometimes when you’re in the process of it, it can be, it can be difficult.
Ryan Steacy: [00:25:03] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:25:03] Even when you say, okay, we will divorce it. It’s still sitting there in the back of the head.
Ryan Steacy: [00:25:07] It is, but I think really you have to be solely focused on the performance of what you’re doing at the time. So your sole focus is to actually, the process of firing those shots. So for me, I’m not even thinking about where those shots went, I know where they went. But I’m not thinking about how many points it is, I’m not thinking about, oh, that was a four out of five or that was a Vbull or that was off the paper, I know where it went. Went off the paper, that’s fine, next one. And you have to just put that one that went astray aside and carry on with the rest of them.
Travis Bader: [00:25:47] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:25:48] Because you basically, you have a job to do and you got to get the job done.
Travis Bader: [00:25:52] So if we were to look before, during, after, what is a mental process look like for you?
Ryan Steacy: [00:26:01] So for me, well the mental process starts way before I actually get to the match. And it involves a bunch of different stuff really, the subconscious training. Really all I’m doing is I’m sort of tuning up my subconscious mind to make sure that that trigger pull is subconscious every time .I think about the matches, I think about the sequence that I have to do the routine on the mound. I’m sure it’s the same for like say IPSC shooters, they go through a certain stage, they do a mental rehearsal.
[00:26:30] Well, I start those mental rehearsals because our matches are pretty much the same all the time. Those mental rehearsals take place for me all year long really. I’m thinking about what it feels like to drop down into the perfect prone position or the perfect sitting position and to shoot those shots and the pace that I have to shoot those shots at in order to make sure I get all 10 shots in on the target in 30 seconds with a mag change.
[00:26:53] So it starts before that. And then, usually once I start getting closer to the match, I start thinking about shooting good shots and I allow that self image to sort of come out a little bit. And allow myself to know that I’m gonna, I’m going to win this one again. I don’t go over the top with it and you know, but if somebody asked me, are you going to win another one? Yeah, heck yeah I’m going to win another one. Right, like you asked me earlier.
Travis Bader: [00:27:22] You have to be like that.
Ryan Steacy: [00:27:23] Yeah. It’s my mental management program is saying I’m going to win number six in a row. So at this point there’s nothing telling me that, I’m not going to, so as far as I know I’m going to win.
Travis Bader: [00:27:34] And why bother putting that in anyways?
Ryan Steacy: [00:27:35] Well that’s, it’s just a thing that doesn’t even, doesn’t even get there right. That never crosses the mind. The mind always thinks you’re going, it should always think that you’re going to win. So then during the match, I’m just focusing on the actual performance of shooting and dealing with those good shots and trying to manage the proper wind calls and all that kind of stuff. And then hopefully the result is good. And at the end of it, I allow myself to revel in it a little bit, I guess.
Travis Bader: [00:28:06] Sure, sure.
Ryan Steacy: [00:28:06] Maybe, you know, to get that feeling into the brain, that endorphin rush. Yeah, man you know, you just won number five. That’s pretty awesome. It’s funny, I have a notebook that I keep all my, it stays on me and I keep track all my scores. And this book has probably 15 years worth of service rifle matches in it. So the book has a couple of different purposes. The first purpose is that, say for example, I have a crappy shoot and I shoot a 35 out of 50, which is not a good score in my opinion and my mind starts telling me, you just shot a 35 dude, you’re not going to win this year.
[00:28:44] Well, guess what? I go in the book and I look and I find one where I shot at 35 and guess what happened? I still won. So I go in the book and I open it to a page and I see that, hey in this year I shot this match and the, hey, there was a 35 or maybe there was two 35’s in there. And I just divorce those 35’s, and I carried on and I ended up winning the match. So that book has saved me quite a few times, as far as that goes.
Travis Bader: [00:29:10] That’s a good tip.
Ryan Steacy: [00:29:12] It’s pretty neat actually. The other purposes that, after I do something good, like I win a match or whatever, I’ve got all my scores in there I’ll write a little note to myself. Yup, that was number five, good job. Your wind calls were bang on this time, or you know, I’ll write in there something good, good job. And then, you know, this year I’ll go back and I’ll look and I’ll go oh, go back to number five. Oh yeah, I had good wind calls, oh yeah. That’s good, I’m going to have good wind calls again for number six. So the book really sort of, it sorta helps me just stay on track really, when I start to try and derail myself.
Travis Bader: [00:29:52] Is that something that you brought in or is that something Linda and Keith talk about?
Ryan Steacy: [00:29:55] I think they probably would have something kind of similar, but I kind of took it upon myself to record all my scores from all the different matches. I know a lot of guys don’t want to see any kind of scores until the end because they have a tendency to derail themselves if they look at their, like, I remember sometimes when we were at Bisley, the coaches were like, you can’t go look at the scoreboard.
[00:30:22] I’m like, screw you, I’m going to look at the scoreboard, I need to know exactly where I’m at. So that if I pooch a match, I can go back in my book and look and go, Hey yeah, you poached it, but hey, you still kicked everybody’s butt. So I, there’s two trains of thought, one of them, if you’re at a certain level and looking at scores is going to derail you, then don’t look at the scores.
[00:30:42] But for me, I have to look at the scores. I need to know exactly where I stand in the whole grand scheme of things so that I can sort of look at my book and go, hey, you’re there, you’re way ahead of the game. You’re good to go. And it gives me that confidence.
Travis Bader: [00:30:55] What about meditation or hypnosis? Have you ever delved into?
Ryan Steacy: [00:31:02] Never really have a on either of those fronts. But I would, hypnosis I don’t really know anything about, but meditation is not really any different, I don’t think, then really just thinking positive thoughts and getting that winning feeling sort of ingrained into your subconscious if you can. If you can meditate on the good stuff about the match. And really almost relive matches that you’ve done really well in, in the past, and you sort of get that feeling that will, that’ll come out in the match that you’re about to shoot as well.
Travis Bader: [00:31:37] So you’ve coached a number of people to some very high levels over the years. During that process, I’m sure you found tips and tricks that you can relate to a person to get them to that end.
Ryan Steacy: [00:31:49] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:31:49] Desired goal faster.
Ryan Steacy: [00:31:51] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:31:51] If you were to do this all over again and start from scratch, what would you tell yourself to get yourself to that goal as fast as possible?
Ryan Steacy: [00:32:00] Well, to be honest with ya, I mean in until I met Keith and Linda, really, and them bringing to light this whole mental management sort of process, I don’t think I would’ve got where I am now without that sort of ability to look at those things. I remember sitting in Gagetown, we were going to Bisley. We had about two weeks of training before and Keith was giving us a lecture on mental management and I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about right and this.
[00:32:29] What does all this giraffe stuff he’s talking about? He goes through the story about a giraffe and the way he basically gets it into your mind is that, he said okay, I’m going to illustrate how important mental management is about your thought processes when you shoot. So he says, I’m going to tell you a story about a giraffe, but I don’t want you to think about a giraffe. Don’t think about any giraffes during this story, and he just keeps going on mentioning the giraffe, and yet you’re not supposed to think about it.
Travis Bader: [00:32:55] Right.
Ryan Steacy: [00:32:56] So at the end of it, it basically comes down to, if you’re thinking about bad stuff, there’s no way that you can’t think about bad stuff and that bad stuff is gonna get into your game basically. And I’m like, what is this giraffe stuff? And then it sort of dawned, and then he carried on with a bunch of other bits and pieces that all sort of form this puzzle. And a lot of what I was thinking oh, he’s mentioned that and I already do that, hmm, interesting.
[00:33:23] And really that lecture that he gave us, brought to light a whole pile of stuff. And I’m like, holy crap, so how do I get better at doing this then? And then the whole subconscious thing came into and I’m like, oh I think that’s the key. So after that, I came back and I started going, how do I make myself more subconscious?
[00:33:40] So then I just started working on that and here I am. So I don’t think I would have ever gotten to the level that I’m at without that sort of guidance from those guys to sort of point me in that direction to chase the subconscious because that’s really the key to the whole thing.
Travis Bader: [00:33:57] So the book mental marksmanship, you’d recommend anyone to give it a read?
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:01] Yeah, I mean.
Travis Bader: [00:34:02] They have more than one, don’t they?
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:04] They have a few, they have a wind book for rifle shooters that is second to none. That’s another one that I read at least once a year. Usually I read it right before I go to shoot it in Ottawa, there at Cannaught, cause it’s super windy range. So I kinda just have to just once again, gloss over it and kind of make sure that all my wind calls and what I should be looking for or where they need to be and not make stupid mistakes like.
Travis Bader: [00:34:27] Sure.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:27] Blowing the another record by one wind call.
Travis Bader: [00:34:31] Sure, sure.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:32] So, yeah. Yeah it’s interesting.
Travis Bader: [00:34:35] No kidding. Anything else we should talk about on a mental marksmanship or we should.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:38] No, there’s probably thousands of other things we should but.
Travis Bader: [00:34:42] I think we’ll leave the list right there and.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:45] Yep.
Travis Bader: [00:34:45] Sort of wrap things up. Thank you very much.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:47] You bet.
Travis Bader: [00:34:48] Really appreciate you giving your time here.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:50] Of course. No problem.
Travis Bader: [00:34:51] Definitely going to be helping other people out that want.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:53] Well as you can tell, I like talking about it, so.
Travis Bader: [00:34:57] All right, well let’s give it a wrap right there.
Ryan Steacy: [00:34:58] All right. Thanks, Travis.
Travis Bader: [00:35:00] And that concludes part one of this series. Make sure to like, comment and subscribe so that you’ll be notified immediately when the next episode comes out.
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