In last week’s tip I asked readers for suggestions to help overcome target panic. We received some great responses. It’s not an easy topic to cover in a short tip, and one solution does not fit every shooter. Hopefully you will find some ideas below that will help you if target panic ever rears its ugly head in your life. For more discussion of this topic, check out the Campfire Forum at Tradbow.com. There is an active thread called Target Panic that also has some great ideas, and you are welcome to share your opinion there.
Arne M. wrote: I’m not sure there is a simple tip to cure target panic, as it can be caused by so many different stimuli. Here is an approach I use that seems to be effective.
Many place way too much emphasis on aiming–to the extent of setting an “aim” before ever starting to draw. Then they concentrate on holding the aim at the expense of all the rest of the mechanics of the shot.
What works for many is to place the aiming step after reaching full draw. If the shooter concentrates only on the step being performed at the moment it is being done, there is no subconscious trigger to release the arrow. The shooter just needs to concentrate on the steps of the shot, placing the aiming step AFTER reaching anchor/holding, THEN mentally moving on to shot conclusion. If the shooter can concentrate on each and every step of the shot sequence, control of the shot will be maintained. By concentrating only on aiming however, the steps will run on autopilot and control is lost.
Check out Arne’s YouTube videos for more of his coaching expertise.
John P. wrote: While it may ruffle a few feathers, I have found that one of the most effective ways to deal with target panic is to shoot a compound bow for a while. Shooting a compound, with or without sights etc., forces you to come back to full draw and hold just by the nature of the device. Using a compound for a period of time and then going back to the traditional bow, reprograms you to draw, hold and release. I have personally used the compound bow for this problem with great success. Switching my traditional bow to one with a lower draw weight and increased draw length also helped, but it was shooting the compound that really seemed to help the most. Switching to a lower weight traditional bow just made sure I stayed cured. I guess there is a use for bows with training wheels after all.
Michael B. wrote: I tried everything I could think of, but ended up switching to non-dominant eye/hand shooting.
Bob L. wrote: Actually, one of the best cures for target panic is to shoot with your eyes closed. Seriously! Begin by standing about two or three feet from a large bale target, close your eyes and go through the whole shooting cycle. Picture the shot in your mind. Come to full draw and hold, preferably for two to five seconds. After you release the arrow, do it over again. By closing your eyes, your sense of feel is enhanced tremendously. After a while you find that you can concentrate on the subtle aspects of the shot: stance, string feel, hand position and release. After you get that stuff squared away, go back to having your eyes open, but start out at about five yards. Only after you can put three in a tea cup, do you take a step back. It is vitally important that each session begins and ends with your eyes closed; and if you ever start to have a problem while you are shooting, go back to the eyes closed technique. It takes a while, but it works.
Zan C. wrote: When you feel target panic coming on, quit shooting at the target! Instead, get out and stump shoot. The added elements of the enjoyment factor and relaxation overrides the fear of missing. It’ll also make you a more accurate shooter at (typical/unknown) hunting distances, and give you practice in real hunting environments.
Kevin F. wrote: The best solution for target panic is NOT to be afraid of losing arrows. I’ve become a much better archer with no target panic after I started making my own arrows. I have an excess amount of junk arrows that I let fly…this improves my distance shooting as well.
Kevin also sells arrows at www.forresterwoods.com
Gary C. wrote: I’ve had this issue from time to time. It seemed to be more of an issue when I was shooting a compound, but now I have made traditional archery my discipline of choice. Target panic shows its ugly head every now and then. You can almost feel it inching its way into your shooting regimen. For me, that’s the first sign I’m shooting too much or need to slow down. I’ll come to full draw and anchor, then count to three before I shoot. Just slow down. Concentrate on that target. I will also stand close to my target–say 15 feet–come to full draw, then close my eyes and imagine my target. It’s tougher than it seems, but it forces me to slow down. Even just imagining a shot sequence through your mind helps you slow down and create good habits. Remember, it’s called a discipline. What we think about, we bring about.