Extended Hunt: Training the Mind
There are few endeavors that are more broadly demanding, from an athletic standpoint, than an extended hunt (five or more days). Unlike most sports, whose repetitive motions are often focused on a single area of the body, there’s no limit to the upper-, lower-, or whole-body workouts that you’ll face over the course of a hunt. With that in mind, the best training for a multi-day hunt is training that covers everything, rather than targeting specific areas.
When we talk about training that covers everything, you’re probably thinking legs, arms, core, etc. — areas of the body that can be toned and strengthened with weights and cardio training. This article, however, will cover training the mind. A healthy mind is absolutely critical during a multi-day hunt, but it’s often neglected during training.
The bottom line is that we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. We live in a world where luxury and comfort have been deemed necessity. We are Earth’s top predator — we are the top of the food chain — and yet, most of us no longer know how to be predators. The focus isn’t exactly mental toughness — it’s mental performance. We’re talking about knowing how your body reacts to stress and improving upon that reaction. We’re not talking about simply battling through hardship, we’re talking about increasing our mind’s ability to perform well in the face of hardship. We’re talking about psychological performance training.
Before you do any training, it’s a good idea to assess where you are now, psychologically. One way to do this is to take a long look at your last multi-day trip. What went right? What went wrong? How did you react to each? What would you do the same again, and what would you change? Were you physically prepared, or would you train harder for the next trip? Do you need to change your training regimen? Did you make mistakes during the hunt? Did you miss any important shot opportunities? There are a ton of questions you can ask yourself regarding the trip. The important thing is to be honest. It’s probably a good idea to write this stuff down, as well, so you can come back to it the future.
Make Yourself Uncomfortable
One of the reasons we’ve become so weak is that we avoid discomfort all day, every day, at all costs. Consciously adding discomfort to our daily lives forces us to deal with diversity and better prepares us when adversity unexpectedly occurs. This can be as simple as changing your morning run to include a steep hill that you’ve been avoiding or adding a workout at the gym that you’ve been considering but haven’t had the nerve to try. Not only will this train your mind to better deal with discomfort, it will help you sharpen your ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. This doesn’t only apply to physical conditioning, either. Forcing ourselves to abandon routine and leave our comfort zone in any form is a healthy training tool.
This second exercise is similar to the first, but on a much grander scale. Once a year, plan to do something that seems impossible. This event should be designed to change you as a person. It should at once scare you, force you to focus all your energy on achieving your goal, and push you beyond your limits. This can be an endurance event that seems beyond your ability. You should plan well in advance, and tell the people around you what you plan to do. This will provide more motivation for you to actually accomplish your goal. If friends don’t say “You’re crazy” when you tell them about it, then it isn’t scary enough.
The activities used for training will be different for everyone. They should evolve, as well. If you change your routine and then get into the new activity as a routine, you aren’t getting anything out of it anymore. Change it up often, stay uncomfortable and, most importantly, challenge yourself.
Guest post by Matt
Matt is an avid outdoors enthusiast and part of the Gunwerks.com team. When he’s not camping, you will find Matt writing about cutting edge process for long range civilian marksmen.
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