The Zone. Revisited.

“If you want to understand Zen easily, just be mindless, wherever you are, twenty-four hours a day, until you spontaneously merge with the Way.” 

I was asked, does the Zone experience occur more often to USPSA or Bullseye shooters?

The Zone is a state of effortless perfection in which the person and its activity merge into one awareness.

I cross-trained in Bullseye shooting for five years. Although I did manage to slip into the Zone several times, the Zone experience occurred more often in USPSA matches.

Me and BigJoni, when she wasn’t so big. (There’s no reason why this pic is here, other than I really like it.)

USPSA’s faster pace leaves little to no room for thinking, which increases the opportunity for the Zone experience. When the doer disappears into the activity—that’s when the magic happens.

Bullseye courses of fire never change, and their slow pace allows a singular focus. You could think, look right at the front sight, for example. With that focus, you could successfully shoot every course of fire for the rest of your life.

USPSA courses of fire (or stages) are never repeated. During a stage, after the start beep, my focus will go from the target back to the front sight, stay focused on the front sight until the second shot fires, then out to the next target, then back to the front sight until the second shot fires… And so on until I finish the stage. 

Because everything I do and see changes continuously, it’s impossible to pay attention to one thing for a noticeable period of time.

For consistent success, before each stage, I clearly visualize everything I will see and do. 

Visualizing replaces thoughts with images. When strung together, the images become a movie of what I will see while shooting the stage. 

Waiting for the start buzzer, rather than wondering what’s for lunch, I’m thought-free and listening… The buzzer starts the silent movie.

Be calm and alert at the start buzzer. Above all, don’t rush. Being in a hurry ruins everything.

The Zone is driven by pure awareness.

Thinking is always one step behind the action. In a game of high-speed precision, awareness prevails.

Disclaimer: I’m a perfectionist. I’m always searching for the best way to do everything. For winning matches, however, my perfectionist nature was not helpful. Excessive experimentation, although fun for me, was better left on the practice range on match day.

To be effective, you must be efficient and consistent. Stay effective on match day by doing only what have trained to do.

I’ll post a new topic each Friday afternoon, in one of two categories. One will be on shooting, and the other will be on living. Or: how I learned to live from what I learned by competing.

Thanks for coming in.

One comment on “The Zone. Revisited.
  1. blainenewlin says:

    Well put, awareness and solid core skills without overthinking. I always enjoy your thoughts sir.