They say that practice makes perfect, but that is not entirely true. If you practice with lousy form, you may actually make your performance worse. You end up learning to do things badly. This is true in the gym, in the classroom, and the shooting range. Preparation for range day should start the night before because ideally, you should be well rested, hydrated, and have eaten.
On range day, you don’t want to be tired, shaky, dehydrated, hungry, or nursing a hangover, and you should also go easy on the coffee. Caffeine does increase focus and alertness but can also make you anxious and jittery – (neither of which will help your accuracy).
There are also several supplements that may help improve your performance on range day. In some cases, they may even negate the effects of less-than-optimal preparation. Here are 4 supplements that I would recommend for range day:
If range day anxiety makes you miss more targets that you hit, L-theanine could be the supplement for you. L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea leaves and in Bay Bolete mushrooms. It's also commonly available in tablet form in health food shops, drug stores, and sports supplement stores.
In studies, L-theanine has been shown to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety without causing drowsiness. Combined with a small amount of caffeine, (about 40mg or one small cup of coffee) L-theanine may also increase focus and attention.
Because L-theanine is a naturally occurring substance, it will not cause you to fail any drug tests. It's generally well tolerated although, if used in excess, it may cause nausea, stomach upset, and irritability.
L-theanine is fast acting, and its effects are typically felt within 30 minutes. Taken alone or with caffeine, this could be a viable option if range day anxiety is getting you down.
Tyrosine is another amino acid. Found in chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products and most protein foods, your body also makes tyrosine from another amino acid called phenylalanine. Tyrosine is crucial in the manufacture of several important substances including:
- Adrenaline and noradrenaline
- Thyroid hormones
Supplemental tyrosine has been shown to help reduce stress. Stress can have a big impact on your shooting performance. Increased heart rate, muscle tremors, irregular breathing, and general anxiety can make maintaining a steady aim all but impossible.
Tyrosine also improves something called cognitive flexibility. This is your ability to do several things at once or switch quickly between thoughts and tasks. On range day, you have to do a lot of things at the same time, like consider windage, allow for the drop of the bullet over distance, listen to your spotter, and block out any intruding thoughts or sounds. Improving your ability to multitask will only ever be beneficial.
Like most amino acids, tyrosine supplements are considered safe and won’t cause you to fail a drugs test.
Low levels of potassium can affect your fine motor skills, leading to tremors and even cramps. Too little potassium affects your body’s ability to generate nerve impulses. Potassium is one of a group of minerals called electrolytes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat.
Good sources of potassium include:
- Apricots, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, and oranges
- Leafy green vegetables, carrots, and potatoes
- Meat and fish
- Whole grains
- Beans and nuts
If you have cramps or tremors, you may be low in potassium. Make sure you have enough of this vital mineral by taking it in supplement form.
Nootropics are a new class of supplements designed to increase mental and physical performance without the aid of stimulants. This means they have none of the usual side effects commonly associated with chugging down pints of coffee. The word nootropic has its origins in Greek, Noo means mind, while trope means new.
Also known as smart drugs, nootropics reduce anxiety, increase concentration, ward off fatigue, and boost your memory. Nootropics increase your production of or sensitivity to neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that affect how your brain works.
There are nootropic blends available, or you can use nootropic substances in isolation. The safest and most effective nootropic substances are:
- CPD choline, also known as citicoline
- Huperzine A
- Vitamin B6
- Lion's Mane
- Ginkgo Biloba