Target panic on the shooting range can be a real deal. When I heard of target panic in my first year of bow hunting I thought this could never happen to me, I had focus, and years of off-hand rifle shooting and hunting under my belt. Well, a few rough outings this pre-season, an arrow or two launched into the weeds, and confidence began to elude me with struggles of flinching hounding my heels. I began to doubt myself and the joy of shooting arrows escaped, being replaced by concerns of losing an arrow or bad groups. Now, I understand that this is common for every archer and may determine if a person will keep going or hang up the bow and go back to firearms deer hunting. I have never been one to go down without a fight for something I believe in… and I believe in archery!
So here is my solution to target panic.
Slow down the negative thinking, breathe, and get back to the basics of following your shot sequence.
For me this process included these four steps.
1) Draw – see the target and make a smooth draw back to my anchor points.
2) Sight – Acquire the target in the sight field. This applies to traditional or compound archery.
3) Relax – Make a conscious effort to relax your arms, hands, and settle into good posture while letting the bow float on the desired mark.
4) Release – Gently loose your arrow with whatever release method you are using. You should get to a point where you may seem surprised at the string release. Let it become instinctive, or sub-conscious, regardless of your weapon of choice.
The most important part of the equation for me is relaxing before the release. If you follow these simple steps, or something similar that suits you, and flush your mind of negativity, you will regain your confidence and re-discover the joy of archery.
Target panic can be overcome. Focus on your sequence, establish it, be consistent, and your groups and accuracy will improve.