Some archers develop what is known as target panic. Any archer can develop this issue, even though it only affects a relatively small percentage of them. This post is aimed at providing those who are unlucky enough to get target panic with some archery tips in an attempt to remedy the problem.
What is target panic?
Target panic is a psychological state in which an archer has an undesired and sudden impulse for a premature release. The way target panic manifests itself is dependent on the form of the archer as well as the equipment, but a premature release is the common theme that is at the core of the problem.
This issue could affect beginners and experienced archers alike, and many great archers and bowhunters had to go through this.
If you’re wondering about the cause of target panic, the simplest way to put it is that its causes are psychological. It’s not a disease and it’s not specifically a form issue, but its root is psychological and it can be overcome. What you need to know is that you are actively thinking about the release, or premature release, making this thought the main contributor to the issue.
Archery tips to cure target panic
Considering target panic is not a real form issue, this means that archery lessons concerning form issues will not help. In essence, you need to reprogram your behavior in some way so that the thoughts occurring in your mind about target panic gets pushed away or you get desensitized to it.
For this, there are 4 techniques I know of that are effective:
The first technique is what is called the “button” technique. This is a technique that should be used every time you’re shooting your bow. It was first introduced in the book Instinctive Archery Insights by Jay Kidwell, and has been very popular among archers. It has allowed many archers to end their target panic and stimulus confusion, as well as help many archers that do not have target panic to focus better on the target and improve their aim and accuracy and different distances. Explaining the technique here would take pages and pages, and I couldn’t explain it as well as Jay, so I highly recommend you check out his book Instinctive Archery Insights: Revised Edition, as there is a whole chapter (4) dedicated to it.
The second technique involves shooting blind. This technique helps the mind relearn that the release is associated with the acquisition of the. First, you choose a very large target area; you face that area, and then close your eyes.
Now, imagine a target in front of you. With your eyes still closed and with the target in front of you, go through the shooting process, and follow-through with your shot. After 4 or 5 shots, open your eyes, and shoot at an actual target. As soon as you feel target panic again, go through the whole blind shooting process again. This creates new healthy associations to target acquisition.
The third technique is very simple, and involves entirely removing the target and then practice shooting at a blank target for a few days or even weeks. This helps retrain the mind to get rid of the premature release confusion.
The fourth and last technique is the visualization technique, a form of self-hypnosis and mental training. This involves imagining you going through all the stages to shoot a bow with a perfect release. This means you start with the first step of locating the target and taking correct archery stance, up till the follow-through and the arrow hitting the bullseye. It is best to use this when you’re not actually shooting. This is a technique that has been used effectively by many popular athletes and is very popular when it comes to sports performance. The reason this technique works is that your mind is getting the practice, which in turns causes your body to get into the act of learning. I recommend using this technique whether you have target panic or not, as there has been research that demonstrates its usefulness combined with actual practice
In conclusion, you should now understand what target panic is, or at least the symptoms by which it is identified. There are also many techniques that I specifically oriented as archery tips to help whoever has target panic, and even one technique that could help improve the skills of those who do not have it. There is no harm in combining several of these techniques, and it is in fact encourage, so do them, get rid of target panic, and enjoy the sport again.
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