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The Roving Sportsman… Summertime Reading

With summer well under way and with lots of outside activities to enjoy, little thought is generally given to reading. There are, however, those rainy days that keep us inside and there are times when whiling away the hours while sitting along a stream or a woodsy setting and reading a good book can be quite enjoyable. If you agree, here are two suggestions to consider.

Zumbo, by K. J. Houtman, is a newly published paperback book based on the true story of Jim Zumbo and his blog heard around the world. This is a well written presentation that chronicles the life of Jim Zumbo, from his youthful days in New York, through his writing career and travel adventures and his return to acceptance as one of the greatest outdoor writers and communicators of our time.

Several years ago, after the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Jim and his wife, Madonna, at their lovely log home outside of Cody, Wyoming. We hunted and fished together – well, OK, it wasn’t for big game and Alaskan salmon – we hunted for cottontail rabbits and ice fished for trout. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful few days of getting to know Jim and recognizing firsthand what a great outdoorsman he is. He has written numerous books on big game hunting, thousands of articles published in national magazines, particularly during his tenure as hunting editor for Outdoor Life magazine. These days, Jim continues his outdoor adventures and spends a good deal of his time with returning military veterans and wounded warriors, helping them to recognize they are appreciated and to aid them in returning to civilian life.

Jim Zumbo, for all of his notoriety and recognition throughout the outdoor community, remains a humble individual. He returns to his east coast roots from time to time and you just might spot him at the annual Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg hanging out near the Outdoor Channel booth. Take a minute to meet him and shake his big old hand. In the meanwhile, get to know him better through Zumbo – a great summer read.

With Winning in Mind, by Lanny Bassham, is a must read for anyone who is involved in competitive sports of any kind. Lanny was an Olympic athlete who attended his first Olympic competition in Munich, Germany in 1972. He went there with high hopes of winning the gold, but brought back the silver medal instead. Unsatisfied with the results, he spent the next several years developing his “Mental Management System,” which he has refined and shared with thousands of athletes around the world ever since. He started by interviewing all of the gold medal winning Olympic athletes and asking them what it was that they thought put them over the edge to become a gold medal winner.

Over the last several years, as I have enjoyed the competitive shooting of trap, skeet and sporting clays, I have noticed a common thread among shooters – both when they tend to miss targets as well as when they are successful in breaking them. It is the mental aspect, which is common in all sports – somewhat like “if you think positive thoughts, positive things will result.” Often, I have witnessed someone miss a target and then let it get to them and continue to miss targets because they remained focused on that first missed target. Or, all too often, in sporting clays, someone might over-analyze a target presentation and miss the clay bird because they did not let their subconscious mind take over and shoot more naturally. They “over-thought” the target.

Frequently, shooters will try to improve their results by purchasing a new gun, more elaborate equipment or additional accessories or by taking lessons – and often totally ignoring the important aspect of the mental side of their sport.

Lanny Bassham has a wonderful way, through the book With Winning in Mind, as well as several DVD series, sometimes specific to skeet, trap or sporting clays and other sports, to explain the many aspects of mental management and guide the reader through the steps to develop a better mental approach to their chosen sport. His book, With Winning in Mind, is an easy-to-read introduction into Mental Management, and a great way to while away a few hours by the streamside this summer.

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