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Competition Nerve Control From The Experts: Pistol

When it comes to marksmanship competition, skills can only go so far – having a strong mental game is also a key part of reaching success. In an effort to gain tips on better regulating the psychological aspects of competitive shooting, the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) asked respected athletes to share their personal experiences from the firing line on what they do to control their emotions when nerves creep in and the pressure is high. Read the advice from our Top Pistol Pros on the CMP website at

The CMP will be highlighting first-hand advice from some of today’s top pistol competitors on the subject of nerves and controlling emotions while on the firing line. Learn more on how to approach pressure before, during and after a competition through their personal stories and gathered experiences throughout their careers! Dr. Judy Tant, a talented pistol competitor from Michigan (originally from Canada), is no stranger to the Camp Perry stage for her accomplishments at the National Matches over the last 30 years. Holding several pistol titles at local, state and national levels, Tant is also a clinical psychologist who has in-depth insight into the mental aspects of the sport.

We also talked to Phil Hemphill, a double-Distinguished pistol athlete. Also a retired captain with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Hemphill has earned several titles over his competitive career on National and World Stages and holds current records for PPC Revolver and PPC Semi-Auto.

Jim Henderson is a retired member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. A well-known athlete within the pistol community, Henderson is a nine-time winner of the President’s Rifle Match and four-time winner of the National Trophy Individual Match (two prestigious events at the National Matches), just to name a few of his accomplishments. He also holds National Records in both events. Henderson is now a member of the CMP family as pistol program coordinator.

As a bonus to our series on Competition Nerve Control, we had the privilege of talking to air pistol competitor, James Hall, who provided additional info on how he manages nerves on the range. An athlete who began his career in rifle, Hall earned Junior Distinguished Badge #2 and went on to compete as a NCAA National Champion athlete at Jacksonville State. In 2020, Hall secured the first U.S. Olympic quota for the Tokyo Olympics and will also represent the United States in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event in 2021.

— Ashley Brugnone, CMP Staff Writer

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto

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