Tunes Keep Hancock In Right Frame Of Mind
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
A shooter's own mind is often his or her greatest foe during competition. As anyone who's shot clay targets for even a moderate length of time can attest, it's pretty easy to think your way to a sub-par round.
Photo: USA Shooting
The words to the song he's chosen for that day are all that Vincent Hancock thinks about when he steps into the box.
Vincent Hancock, Team USA's top male skeet shooter, tries to ensure that absolutely nothing's going on upstairs when he walks into the box on station 1. He wants his mind to be completely blank except for the tune he's mentally singing to himself.
"I basically just stick to the high points (or the chorus)," he said. "Besides that, I just let my mind go blank and I don't worry about anything. That's when I shoot the best."
He says he has about 12 or 15 songs in his repertoire – most by alternative rock bands like Acceptance or Linkin Park. If those groups are unfamiliar to you, remember this: he's just 18 years old.
He usually picks one song to use on each competition day and won't change it, even if his performance falls below his expectations. His selection is determined by the type of mood he's in that day.
"I like songs that are up-tempo because they take me to a higher state of awareness. They keep my mind and body going at the proper rate instead of slowing them down.
"I've been doing it for the past 3 or 4 years. It's something I pretty much picked up myself, but I know other shooters who do it, too."
> Hancock, a member of the Georgia-based U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, compiled an impressive list of 1st-place finishes in 2007. He won gold medals at the Pan American Games and at a World Cup meet in Italy, and was the top scorer at the Olympic Fall Selection Match. He captured a bronze at the World Clay Target Championships in Cyprus.
> He broke 271 out of 300 targets at the Fall Selection Match to beat out Sean McLelland by three. If he can maintain his edge through the Spring Selection Match, which will be held in Texas this coming March, he'll gain his first Olympic berth.
> His competition gun is a Beretta DT10 Trident, and he shoots Winchester ammunition.