The Mental Side of Missing: Part II

By Jace Bauserman

Share on Social Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

shooter looking through the scope of a rifle

The human mind is an amazing machine, but if you hand over the keys to it during the shooting process, it will betray you. That realization and the solution for combating it have become a life’s work for former police officer and shooting instructor Joel Turner. Part one of this series focused on Turner’s methods and mindset, giving a glimpse into how the best shooters perform so brilliantly in high-pressure situations. Now, we’ll take those concepts further and provide real steps you can follow to shoot better than ever before.

Just Say The Word

When you get right down to it, all shooters—regardless of their pursuit, shooting style or firearm type—are chasing the same thing: The ability to control the mind and put the bullet on the mark when an opportunity is earned. In part one, Turner emphasized that this can't be accomplished by focusing on the aim portion of the shot equation, and we left off with the idea that the best shooters talk themselves through the shot, usually starts after they believe the aim is complete.

Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing

Long range isn't just a distance. It's a state of mind. And it's why we build Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing rifle loads.

Buy Now

Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing Packaging

"Uttering a critical word or phrase after the sights are on the spot you want to hit, and after your finger finds the trigger, will get you through the critical second," Turner says. "The critical second is the one moment in time after we believe the aim is complete, and it's during this time that meltdown can easily happen."

Turner's right. For years, the second my crosshairs hit hide, I jabbed the trigger and skipped the critical second after acquiring my target and finding the rifle's trigger. My mind would catapult me into shoot mode, and before I could blink, the trigger was pressed, and the bullet was gone.

"You want to remain conscious during your shots and be able to recall everything," says Turner. We want to avoid the blackout, ‘gotta-punch-the trigger-moments’ by talking ourselves through the trigger press. The very best shooters can talk themselves through the entire process, and they can move from uttering a single word or phrase to talking themselves through the whole process, which is the goal."

The Power Of Speech

According to Turner, what makes talking yourself through the trigger pull process great is that concentration runs through speech. Neuro-linguistic programming is the actual route to concentration. If someone's shot needs to change from punching the trigger the second their crosshairs hit the spot and their finger finds the trigger, something has to change. 

Joel Turner in a class

"Speech during the shot changes things," says Turner. "There has to be a change. Once the reticle gets on the X, the shooter preloads the trigger, and then an audible phrase is uttered. Something like ‘here I go’ is a start. It’s a commonly used phrase for cliff jumpers and skydivers. When you're about to jump off a cliff into a pool of water, and you start thinking about how deep the water is, you will never jump at that moment. It's not until you bring yourself into the present and utter ‘here I go’ that you are present enough to do a movement that will cause your body impact."

When translated to shooting, the same principle applies. You place the reticle on the X, your finger goes on the trigger, and the act of saying ‘here I go” makes you intensely present. Then you continue to talk yourself through the trigger press. 

"It doesn't have to be ‘here I go,’ either," Turner says. "It can be a humming process, an audible exhale, or any sound or word that gives your movement rhythm and timing and traps your concentration into the movement. What you say is what you move, so talk about the press. If you need to slow your trigger press down to a closed-loop motion, meaning you can stop it, you must first fix your speech pattern. Too many shooters get engulfed in the aim, and concentration is not practiced, and that is where they fail."

Make It Happen

Now is the time. Throughout Turner’s teachings, he emphasizes the significance of making a choice. Without making a conscious choice to shoot and think a certain way, your subconscious mind will take over and the results aren’t pretty. So choose control and accuracy today and with every shot you take.

To learn more about Joel Turner, his methods, or to attend a virtual or in-person shooting course, visit