The first step to getting over target panic is admitting you have a problem.
MY NAME IS ___ AND I SUFFER FROM TARGET PANIC!
Okay, now we can get to the heart of things.
Target panic affects us all—at some point or another almost every archer has suffered from the mental block. Even the best archers in the world have completed or still work on practices to cure and treat target panic.
So, what is target panic, exactly?
It manifests itself in a number of ways, but most recognizably, it’s when the archer has anxiety about the release of the arrow and “punches” the release trigger, pulls their release back too quickly or any other way to release the arrow suddenly.
Someone who suffers from target panic will find float their pin and find their target and immediately punch the release, instead of holding on the target and slowly and calmly releasing an arrow.
The flinch that comes from a sudden release of the arrow will affect the arrow’s trajectory and send it a bit off from where you were aiming.
If you’re shooting competitions, that could result in a lower score. If you’re shooting at an animal, it could mean an injury—something no hunter wants to cause.
How do I fix my target panic?
There are a few exercises we recommend to fix your target panic. Don’t worry—it is a disease with a cure!
+ First off, many archers recommend shooting a few feet away from a large target with your eyes closed. Aim at your target (only a few feet away—be safe and watch for others!) and then close your eyes and hold it steady.
Slowly release the arrow and open your eyes.
Do this drill several times, every day, for a month.
This will decrease the anxiety of where your arrow is going and associating that anxiety with the arrow release.
+ Another drill professional archers recommend is to aim at your target like normal, hold, hold, and then simply let down. Never shoot your arrow.
This drill relaxes your anxiety in thinking you always have to shoot. It also trains you up to be able to hold longer on your target, making you a more accurate shot.
Again, do this drill several times a day for a month. You should really start to see progress after the combination of this drill and the eye closed drill.
When will I know that my target panic is cured?
For some people, it never fully goes away—so be prepared to watch for signs of its return. But for the most part, you’ll realize that you’re slowly and calmly releasing your arrow, holding steady, and taking your time with the shot.
You’ll see improved accuracy and confidence in your shot, as well.
Archery is a practice-heavy sport, so remember to get out there, do your drills, read popular literature on the sport, and you’ll absolutely see results.
As hunters, we recommend shooting in ASA Tournaments to help with dealing with pressure. You’ll be in a group, taking turns shooting. All eyes will be on you as you take your shot. As you learn to relax and cope with this pressure, it will help prepare you for the pressure of taking an animal shot.