I know what you’re thinking; jet lag?! That horrible tiredness and lethargy you get after a long flight that can basically knock you for six for at least a day after you get home? Yep. That nasty thing.
Let me set the scene for you. Having just enjoyed an awesome week in Mexico (courtesy of the restaurant Chiquito after winning one of their competitions on Twitter) my husband and I boarded our flight 45 minutes after it was supposed to leave. Knowing that I had to go back to work today (Wednesday) and the flight was due to get in at 7:30am on Tuesday, I had arranged to have a private lesson with one of my coaches at the National Clay Shooting Centre at Bisley at 2:00pm, giving myself enough time to get home and nap for two or three hours before driving there – so a delay before we even left was cutting into my already-precious nap time (and I LOOOOOOVVVVE my naps now as it is!).
We landed an hour later than intended, our bags took another half an hour to come through the baggage carousel, and the meet-and-greet company took what felt like an age to bring our car over. My two-to-three hour nap was fast becoming a distant dream, and my lesson looming ever closer. Having to leave at 12, and getting into the house at 10:40, I had barely an hour to nap, leaving the final 20 minutes to change, grab a slab of cartridges, get my gun from the cabinet and bung it all in the car. I managed to leave on time (no make-up, unbrushed hair pulled into the worst-looking bun I’ve ever done, feeling absolutely disgusting having not had time to shower after the flight, and I’m sure with massive dark circles of jet lag caused by a 10 hour flight and six hour time difference) but then noticed that I only had a quarter of a tank of fuel. The detour ate even further into my travel time, reducing the cushion I had left in case of incidents on the motorway. Needless to say I was a little bit worried about not making it on time!
Thankfully, in spite of a temporary moving road block and a long 50mph speed limit, I did make it with 10 minutes to spare. I hid my dark circles underneath my shooting glasses before my coach arrived five minutes later. I explained that within the previous 26 hours I had only slept for one, and I’m pretty sure that the look in his eyes at that moment was saying ‘you’re crazy for being here’, but I admitted that I was pulsing with carbs and caffeine, so we proceeded to the skeet range.
I admit, I didn’t have very high hopes for the lesson at all, but whilst being away I had missed one of the British Shooting training sessions and the next one isn’t for another three weeks; I didn’t want to go so long without some guidance. And considering that my nearest NSSA skeet range (where I have been training on NSSA speed targets in the Olympic configuration) closed down while I was on holiday, I was a little concerned about my ability to practice between sessions.
I missed the first high bird on stand one, seemingly a regular occurrence for me at the moment! I gathered my thoughts, loaded another cartridge, and took the bird again. Smack in the centre! I did hit the pair as well, although the low bird was a lot closer than it should have been because I was focusing so much on hitting the high bird. I hit the single and pair on stand two as well, but crashed a little on five and six – as I always do.
Realising it may be a problem with my eye dominance (whilst I’m right-handed, I am left eye dominant), my coach tried a spot to eliminate that element. It didn’t work. We tried something new – and all of a sudden, my 40-50% hit rate on stands five to eight went to (I would say) 85-90%. With just that tiny adjustment, my shooting – and my optimism – went through the roof! We joked that I should come to training jet lagged more often, as only an hour of sleep seemed to have done wonders! My breaks on stands one to three were exactly as I wanted them, I was hitting both single birds of stand four (which I barely ever do!) and was finally consistently hitting the low bird on five, six and eight.
By this point, the adrenaline and excitement of shooting so well after such a long time had eliminated a vast amount of my tiredness. As I was paying for my clays, the wonderful lady at the counter asked how it went, and when I told her, she joked that being jet lagged to shoot well was a justification for taking more holidays! Hands down, without doubt, my best training session so far.
Not just for the fact that I was hitting targets I was struggling with, but because after taking a week away from work and other regular responsibilities, I was relaxed enough that (in spite of the jet lag and the long drive to and from Bisley) I was genuinely ready to shoot, with nothing on my mind except that skeet layout. Coupled with being outside of the usual group environment that the GB Shooting training sessions provided, I felt no pressure to hit the clays and no embarrassment when missing them.
Everything fell into place brilliantly, I was so ecstatic. Hopefully this is the start of the upward trend, and despite the setbacks so far, everything will get much better from this point on.
(Featured photo credit to my husband!)