The habitual use of alcohol, coffee, tobacco and various drugs is harmful to the average person and in no way promotes better body function. We can be easily fooled by misleading advertisements into believing that such things are helpful. For example, an advertisement may tell us that cigarettes are an aid to digestion. Cigarette smoking after meals does cause the saliva to flow more freely and the heart to beat faster, aiding digestion. But, this may also result in overwork for the salivary glands and the heart. In like manner, many people may believe that a highball or cocktail at the beginning of a meal promotes digestion because of the greater flow of the digestive juices that alcohol causes. And what about that change of pace drink, tea? It is no different in caffeine content than coffee but possesses increased amounts of tannic acid.

1. Inform yourself. Any drug which causes the body organs to perform their work at a greater rate than normal, fatigues them sooner and causes them to age more rapidly. Stimulants and depressants overwork many vital organs, often when their best performance is needed for normal body activity. The effects of the use of such substances depend upon how much is used and whether or not the body is strong enough to repair the damage done.

2. In order to understand the discussion that follows there are certain terms whose specific meaning you should know. A stimulant is a chemical which, when taken into the body, excites the organs to greater effort. Depressants are chemicals which slow down body action but may also speed up body functions by reducing the influence of the nerve centers which slow down body action. For example, nicotine increases heart action by depressing the nerves that slow the heart beat, thus causing a faster pulse. Depressants deaden pain and lessen discomfort and thus make us feel better without removing the cause.

3. Much has been written and said both pro and con concerning the habitual use of alcohol, coffee, tobacco, and drugs, their temporary and permanent effects on the human body, both mental and physical. Material covering these subjects is available at any well stocked library. Part of the information that follows was derived from this source but much of the evidence against alcohol, coffee, tobacco and drugs that we are concerned with has been contributed by the shooters themselves.

a. Although all shooters are not in agreement that complete abstinence by habitual users is the solution, all will agree that these agents will in no way help to improve shooting performance or scores.

b. To learn the fundamentals of pistol shooting is no great achievement in itself. Anyone interested in becoming a pistol shooter can with persistency and training learn to shoot with some degree of proficiency. What then, is necessary to become a skilled shooter ? The top shooters in the nation today unanimously agree that control is the most important factor in becoming a top competitor. Control can best be explained as the coordination of mental and physical effort, born in thought and culminating in a concentrated, precise action. This effort must be natural, unstrained and smooth flowing. Any habit or action that results in departure from perfect coordination will lesson the degree of control and reduce the effectiveness of the action. In shooting, lessening of control shows itself in lower scores and poor performance.

c. What can you the shooter do about sustaining control? The same thing you would do when training for a match. When you find yourself having difficulty in maintaining your shot groups in

the center of the target, you analyze and make corrections, be it position, grip or sight adjustment, etc.. Sometimes when control is declining, analysis may pinpoint some cause other than faulty technique in employment of the fundamentals. What did you have at breakfast? Coffee, two cups and two cigarettes. Enough to ruin anyone's control. Perhaps a few too many last night and a loss of several hours of sleep. Whatever the reasons, they should be noted in your score book just as you would enter unusual conditions at a match. In a short period of time, if you are honest with yourself you will be able to piece together enough information upon which to take remedial action. The most difficult person to convince is yourself. No one who habitually smokes or drinks coffee wants to admit that such habits have the effect of destroying control. So they remain slaves to habits which, in affect, they attempt to overpower by mental and physical exertion, often ending in frustration and exhaustion.

The following paragraphs cover the effects that alcohol, coffee, tobacco and drugs have on control of pistol shooting. If you have been plagued with a built-in error, it may be that the answer to your problems lies herein.

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