Why Is It Important to Have Confidence in Shooting?
Perhaps the most important skill any of us can develop is confidence. Especially shooters.
But what does it mean to be a confident shooter? Confidence in shooting is:
- Independent of skill – Shooters should be capable of practicing even if they aren’t expert marksmen yet.
- Closely tied to comfort – Confident shooters have faith in their own abilities and know that shooting in a safe environment doesn’t put them in inherent danger.
- A moving goalpost – Even if shooters become confident with their everyday carry pistol, it might take time for them to become confident in their abilities and knowledge once they add a new firearm to their collection.
Confidence is key for shooters, but why? Let’s explore five key reasons why it’s so important to have confidence in shooting.
#1 Confident Shooters Are Safe Shooters
Safety is paramount in shooting sports. Pointing your firearm in a safe direction, treating every gun as if it’s loaded, maintaining situational awareness, and storing your firearms and ammunition safely are just a few of the cardinal rules of shooting.
If you’re new to shooting sports (and still feel shaky on the basics of shooting), these rules may not be second nature to you yet. But, as you grow more confident in your understanding and execution of these rules, you’ll become a safer firearm owner and operator.
Confident shooters are safe shooters — they understand how their guns work and why it’s so critical to take safety precautions seriously.
#2 Confident Shooters Are Comfortable in Shooting Environments
As shooters develop more experience and confidence, they become more comfortable around firearms and gun-related environments.
Some of these include:
- Gun ranges
- Gun shops
- Sporting goods and hunting stores
- Shooting competitions
- Hunting camps and other hunting environments
The more confident and knowledgeable about shooting you become, the more at ease you’ll feel around guns and live fire. This comfort is beneficial. For instance, if you feel comfortable in a hunting environment, you can have more fun in the stand, in the field, and at the cleaning station.
You can’t enjoy a situation if you’re uncomfortable; you can’t develop comfort without confidence.
#3 Confident Shooters Can Share Their Knowledge
Confident shooters understand what they know, what they don’t know, their abilities, and their shortcomings. Simply put, confident shooters know enough about the sport, their gear, and themselves to operate safely and comfortably in shooting contexts.
This also makes them qualified to pass that information along to others. That could look like:
- Teaching newcomers to shoot or showing them the ropes at the range
- Helping someone build a firearm for the first time
- Volunteering their time to firearm education programs, like hunters’ safety courses
Confident shooters know how to conduct themselves in shooting environments, but they also know how to teach others to do the same. Confident shooters can positively contribute to the cycle of firearm safety and education.
#4 Confident Shooters Can Refine Their Skills
Confident shooters are comfortable shooters, and comfortable shooters spend less energy worrying about their surroundings, their weapon(s), their range buddies, and their surroundings. They know how to balance situational awareness with healthy levels of caution.
When shooters feel at ease in shooting environments, they can use the “brain space” they would have spent worrying on refining their skills, like:
- Efficient reloading
- Stance and grip
- Holstering and unholstering their weapon
- Troubleshooting problems (like misfires)
When shooters are confident in their understanding of the sport and comfortable with their surroundings, they can truly focus on becoming more competent shooters.
#5 Confident Shooters Are High Performers
Shooters who can create the mental space to focus on improvements can eventually become high-performing shooters. Let’s explore a hypothetical:
- Twenty-year-old Julien has just stepped onto a trap range for the first time. He’s never fired a gun before, and he misses all but a few clays. He fumbles with his action, looks at other shooters’ techniques, and worries about his performance.
- Julien decides that he wants to improve, so he starts taking regular trips to the trap range. He gets more comfortable with loading and firing his shotgun, starts to incorporate tips from the range officers, and gets a little more familiar with the range each time he visits.
- As his comfort and confidence increase, Julien’s accuracy improves.
Whether shooters pursue self-defense training, competition wins, or successful hunting harvests, confidence is a critical stepping stone on the way to excellence.
Developing Comfort and Competence with Shooting
Let’s briefly return to the hypothetical in the previous section. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Julien didn’t develop competence, comfort, or confidence overnight.
It takes time and dedication to become a more confident shooter, but the effort invested in development pays off in improved safety, comfort, abilities to educate, skill refinement, and overall shooting performance.
The only things standing in between you and increased shooting confidence are time, a few boxes of shells, and more range days.