Lynda Kiejko: Stop Judgement & Carry On

Lynda is a Canadian pistol shooter in the national Olympic team for the second time who has won three medals in the Pan American games. She is one of the top pistol shooters in her country and manages to do so while parenting and working. Respect!

There’s gold in her answers, so keep reading and apply some of her tips to your training and competition.

How and when did you start shooting? 

I started shooting in 1992 with my sister under the watchful eye of our father, 3x Olympian Bill Hare. He had retired from competitive shooting and was starting a junior shooting team within Canada.

What made you want to train and compete more seriously? What was your progression like?

When I started shooting I didn’t know much about my dad’s history at the Olympics, I just knew that he always seemed to make it look easy, and he loved the shooting sports. I think I was already hooked on the sport before I realized I could train and compete at a higher level. I started competing at the national level sometime in the mid 1990’s and my first world cup in 1999. From there I was in and out of the national team through completing my university degree. Bringing home a Bronze medal from the Pan American Games in 2003 just after graduating.

What are you most proud of in your shooting? 

It’s always hard for me to pinpoint what I am most proud of. I constantly look for ways to improve. Standing on the podium next to my sister at the 2010 Commonwealth games, was a moment that I cherish, it was the first time in our competitive careers we had ever gotten to be on a games team together. The other thing I am proud of is the “perfect” performance. Which is completely separate from the final score. It’s the process, when I have followed my process and executed as well as I can, that always leaves me feeling proud.

What advice has had the biggest positive impact in your shooting? Who gave it?

There was advice from my sister, though it was more of a joke at the time. She had qualified for the London Olympics, and said if I wanted to go to the Olympics, I should have a baby. Go figure, after I had my first baby, I qualified for the Olympics in 2016. It wasn’t specifically having a baby that improved my performance, but the perspective that came with becoming a mom. So many things are outside of our control, and rather than trying to control the things we can’t, we should focus on the things we can. I have become a much more adaptable person as a parent than I was previously. And I have also had some of my best performances after having kids.

What did you spend a lot of effort on and later discovered it wasn’t so important? 

I don’t think I have ever found something that wasn’t worth spending time on. There are always so many things that are important, there are times that I focus on one aspect or another, only to uncover there is something else that also needs to be fine tuned. Being strategic about what to work on is important, as with everything, sometimes the right improvement doesn’t look like an improvement in the beginning, it needs time to bloom. 

How do you train and how often? What does a typical training day look like? Do you train with a coach or by yourself? 

I have a variety of different types of training I do, in the range with pellets and bullets, dry fire on a blank wall, scatt, along with physical strength training and mental training. 

How often depends on the competition season I am in, there are times I will take an entire break to recharge and help flush out any bad habits so I can start fresh. Preparation before competition will entail increasing volume of shots and working on specifics of my process to ensure my routine is solid. Into the competition season there will be a variety of intensity training sessions to simulate the competition experience. 

However the training days may look different as I also work a full time job, while being a parent, and training. I train often by myself, with some video conference to my coach as we don’t live close enough together to train often in person. I will also train with some of my teammates when we can coordinate our schedules.

How do you stay motivated in training and competition?

It’s easy to stay motivated when I love what I do. For times that I lack motivation, I look inside to see what may be deterring me, and what I can do about it. And for the times I find myself really struggling I ask myself what would Olena Kostevych do? In reality I have no idea what she would do, but I expect she would be training in the times I really don’t want to. So I get to it!

What do you do before a match or training to get into the appropriate mind space? 

I have music I listen to, and stretches, but the most important thing is to breathe. I have a very specific rhythmic breathing that brings my heart rhythm into alignment with my breath. This helps to bring my body in line with my mind and centers me.

How do you manage nervousness through a competition? Can you give an example of inner talk you use when things are not going well? 

With breath and a just notice approach. Breathing is a big piece, and it’s the start, middle and end of my shot process. If I have not executed my shot correctly then I need to go back to the process and evaluate which part was missing. Just notice, no judgement. There are occasionally shots that are well executed and poorly aimed, these are items of just notice. With this aspect I can use this to stop any judgement, either positive or negative, and carry on executing my process shot after shot.

What aspect of the shooting technique has brought you the biggest improvement? How would you recommend people to train it? 

Having a consistent process. And when you have a consistent process: check it, evaluate it, break it down again to make sure each aspect is the same every single shot. 

I have found process to be key in improvement, and executing consistent shots. However, when a surprise happens, I find that it is due to one aspect not being included. 

Write down your process, step by step. Go through it, focus on it, and make sure each step is exactly the way you want it. Then practice. Over, and over, and over.

Example processes from myself and other pistol shooters.

What would you recommend pistol shooters to focus on improving (technical, mental, physical…)? Can you share one exercise or routine for this? How do you think they should go about it? 

Pistol shooters need to focus on all three components. Intentional dry fire on a blank wall can achieve these things. Lack of distraction from a target, focus on the front sight, visualize a centre shot, engage all muscles required for shooting, increase hold time to increase stamina.

What is your shot routine like? 

Breath, load, prepare, raise, stabilize, lower, squeeze, follow through. Repeat.

Which tool or equipment can’t you live without?

My grip. If I have my grip, I can borrow a pistol, and everything else I train with and without in case something happens. I would like to preferably have my glasses as well, but I can manage without if absolutely required.

What question would you have liked me to ask and what’s your answer to it? 

The question I get asked most often is how do I balance it all? (Work, family, shooting). And the answer is with an incredible support team. My family is so incredibly important to me and a great source of strength. Without my husband, siblings, my mom, and so many friends to help me carve out time to train, while still being engaged with my family I would not feel or be successful.

Who would you recommend is interviewed next?

Antoaneta Kostadinova

You can find Lynda on Twitter.

If you want more, check the whole pistol shooters and coaches interview series.

Published by ramonsuarez

Pistol shooter practicing mostly the Olympic & ISSF events, learning and sharing along the way. #10mairpistol #25mpistol #50mpistol #rfp #rapidfirepistol #issfpistol #olympicpistol

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