Competition Day Diet

For Bullseye 2700s that last all day (typically 8:30AM to about 3:00PM) I have adopted a very specific diet. Several other local shooters seem to do about the same and also Brian Zins, the seven times US pistol shooting champion from whom I’m admittedly borrowing much of this advice, has mentioned a very similar diet for the day of competition. Please note, however, that I’ve adapted all this to the perceived dictates of my own metabolism. (YMMV.)

I normally do not eat any breakfast. I tried a couple of different ones on shooting days but universally found I did worse with the change of habit so, now, I have no food for breakfast on competition days. My normal start-of-day is one cup of regular coffee and one cup of decaf, both with a little 2% milk and NO SUGAR. I now do the same on competition days. Although that one cup of caffeinated coffee probably affects my steadiness, I find it a plus for mental sharpness (in my very subjective opinion, of course).

I eat a banana between 22 and CF, about 10:30AM and am thoroughly convinced it helps over the next two hours.

Lunch (12:30-ish) is a 6" turkey sandwich at Subway or its equivalent. I have provolone cheese on the sandwich, oil and vinegar dressing, bell pepper, tomato, olives, fresh spinach (if they have it) or a small amount of lettuce if not, and lots of black pepper. Lots! I drink only water with lunch (and throughout the day as desired).

If we shoot a hardball match after the 2700, I’ve tried a second banana but, with my shooting of that gun, I can’t say it helps or hinders.

When the Subway near the range was closed for remodeling at a recent 2700, I ate a 1/2 cup of pasta with garlic and olive oil (from the deli section at a grocery) and a 4 oz. packet of turkey slices for lunch. I did as well on that as with the turkey sandwich from Subway. (Pasta gets a plus vote from me.)

Some of the key features of this are, in my opinion, 1) eat only enough to keep you going – a less than full stomach is a must, 2) the turkey contains something (tryptophan? sp?) that has a calming effect (as do chicken and tuna but to a lesser extent) which is beneficial, and 3) the banana seems to have the right balance of natural sugars (for mental sharpness) and potassium (which is a muscle relaxant if I’m not mistaken).

Sugar is bad, real bad, at any time when shooting for accuracy. Sugar in my coffee or a cookie at lunch will definately mess me up. (I’m slightly hypoglycemic so I’m very sensitive to refined sugars.) For similar reasons, any kind of sports drink (or “soft” drink) is a big no-no. Based on my experience, I would recommend plain water only to drink but make sure to get enough to keep the blood flowing easily: dehydration will lessen the oxygen flow to the brain and aim will suffer (in my inexpert opinion).

Overall, you want to keep your heart rate low. If the competition has you walking back and forth to the targets, walk slow. If there is a 30 second or longer lull in the competition, sit down. Pick up banana and lunch (and water) before the competition, eat at the range rather than going out with “the guys and gals” and sit calmly. Keep everything low key. (If you clean a target then, OK, you can do a little victory dance, but only a really little one, and then forget that target and concentrate on shooting only the very next shot.)

Relaxed and alert seem to be the bottom line.

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