5 Tips to Overcome Target Panic

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Have You Ever Suffered From This Ailment?

Relax, Find Your Anchor Point and Remember Repetition Is the Key

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1 | Relax, Find Your Anchor Point and Remember Repetition Is the Key

A big part of archery is relaxation. It isn’t a macho sport. It’s a finesse sport. And being able to do the same thing over and over with muscle-memory repetition is key. Backwoods Life’s Michael Lee expressed his thoughts on this.

“While practicing, I will come to full draw with my eyes closed and find my anchor points, then open my eyes,” Lee said. “It helps me focus on the target only and not keeping my mind on other mechanics while practicing.”

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Photo credit: Backwoods Life

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Shoot with Your Eyes Closed

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2 | Shoot with Your Eyes Closed

Tyler Jordan is a heck of a bowman and he too has experienced target panic. He has a unique method of overcoming that for when it starts to creep into an archer’s life.

“I’ve had target panic a couple times in my life,” Jordan said. “What’s helped me is shooting with my eyes closed a few times. I tend to put too much energy and focus on aiming and keeping the pin in one place, which is essentially impossible to do. The purpose of shooting with my eyes closed is the feeling of complete relaxation and not focusing on the aim, but the feeling of releasing that shot that I’ll try to replicate with my eye open after doing that a few times. Even if I don’t have target panic and haven’t shot my bow in a while, I’ll often use this technique.”

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Photo credit: Realtree

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Practice at Short Distances

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3 | Practice at Short Distances

Forget about long shots for a while. You can leave the rangefinder on the shelf. We’re cutting the distance, forgetting about the shot and focusing on the aiming. That’s All Things Hunting’s Kyle Barefield’s tip.

“One method for fixing target panic is to shoot your first and last arrows of the day during the off-season from 5 feet away,” Barefield said. “During these shots, all you should focus on is keeping the pin inside the biggest bullseye while barely squeezing the trigger until the bow goes off. I believe people develop target panic during the off season when they try to aim at a very small object over and over while practicing and end up punching the trigger trying to time the pass of the pin over the small bullseye. If you repetitively do this, your action becomes a habit and that’s bad. Shooting from 5 feet makes it easy to put the pin on the target area and the brain doesn’t have to worry about aiming as much as it does about gently squeezing the trigger. The goal is to be able to gently squeeze the trigger until the bow goes off while aiming — not punching the trigger when the pin touches the bullseye.”

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Photo credit: All Things Hunting

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Learn How to Shoot a Back-Tension Release

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4 | Learn How to Shoot a Back-Tension Release

According to Art Helin, one of the best things you can do is learn to shoot a back-tension release. Doing so will help eliminate the target-panic problem.

“Learn how to use a back-tension release,” Helin said. “This will force you to use proper form and teach you how to squeeze your shoulder blades through the shot instead of punching through the shot. This helps when and if you return to a triggered release. When practicing, shoot more shorter length sessions with longer breaks and less reps per round. This way, you will be fresher and less tired while training your muscles the proper form, thus making you more accurate and less frustrated.”

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Photo credit: Art Helin

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Be Patient, Take Your Time and Understand It

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5 | Take Time to Get Your Head Right and Be Patient

Target panic is something that happens. And once it does, it doesn’t go away overnight. It takes time to beat it into submission. Or rather, it takes time to ease it out of your life. Because again, archery isn’t a macho sport. And overcoming target panic isn’t about strength and grit. It’s about muscle memory, relaxation and subconscious execution of the shot. So, when you’re working on overcoming this problem, take it slow. Be patient. Understand that quality reps, positive archery mechanics, appropriate form and practicing good habits will be your ticket to getting back on track.

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Photo credit: Josh Honeycutt

Editor's Note: This was originally published August 17, 2018.

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Target panic is something that practically all archers go through at some point. Even the best shooters go through it. World champions like Levi Morgan and Travis “T-Bone” Turner have experienced it. So, don’t feel like you’re alone if you are too. It happens. And there’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is that you've been diagnosed and now steps are being taken to fix the problem. Here are five ways to help make that happen.