Patrick Meitin has degrees in journalism and range and wildlife management. He’s been an outdoor writer, specializing in bowhunting, for more than 20 years. An expert with both traditional and modern archery equipment, Meitin lives in northern Idaho with his wife, Gwyn, and their two Labrador retrievers.
Hiring A Shooting Coach This Summer For Better Shooting Come Fall
After you've been shooting awhile the mechanics of drawing, anchoring and releasing a bowstring become essentially automatic. It's true, small flaws in physical form can prevent you from shooting your best, but more often shooting well has more to do with what's going on between your ears. The mental aspects of shooting are more difficult to master than physical, and not surprisingly, the longer you've been shooting, the more you learn about the process, the more potential arises for mental glitches to hinder top-notch shooting. Sometimes bad habits creep into your shooting without you even realizing it.
One of archery's most insidious ailments is target panic, which slips into your shooting in sneaky-small increments over a long period until it suddenly manifests itself in frustrating habits. Since target panic's instilled deep in your subconscious over a prolonged period of time, it's extremely difficult to consciously destroy.
Target panic comes in many forms, including "freezing" off target while attempting to aim finely; being unable to place your pin just so without excruciating twitchiness; "snap shooting," or not anchoring before sending your arrow away, a symptom of rushing the shot which is at the heart of all target panic; or more rarely, the inability to commit to a shot, aiming and aiming again while attempting to force the perfect shot until form ultimately collapses from fatigue.
Other harmful mental habits include "peeking," lifting your head or jerking the bow arm aside on release in an attempt to watch your arrow fly; flinching or closing your eyes in an involuntary reaction to the shot explosion (much like flinching while shooting a non-threatening .22 rimfire); and trigger punching instead of slow squeezing.
If these symptoms or any simular afflictions hinder your ability to execute a perfect shot, you should consider hiring a qualified archery coach to help you regain control. Deeply embedded mental habits are difficult to eliminate on your own. Your mind plays tricks on you, teasing you with bait-and-switch schemes and causing additional frustrations. If you're serious about ridding yourself of target panic, shooting to your fullest potential, put your ego aside and seek professional help.
Many independent archery-shop owners will offer advice and coaching free or cheap to loyal customers, but you'll usually be required to pay for a professional's time. Realistically you're looking at a pro-shop expert, or maybe a college archery instructor, willing to work with you personally on the side. Expect to pay from $25 to $45 an hour, and investing in no less than 10 to 20 hours over a month's time to assure lessons stick, depending on the depths of your problem(s). This may sound like a huge investment in time and money, but isn't missing (or wounding) fewer animals and leaving debilitating frustrations behind worth it?