Target Panic

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During the course of a year, I work with hundreds of people trying to improve their shooting. One of the biggest problems I see is a condition known as target panic. Target panic, like any other ailment, can exist in varying degrees of severity. The one thing that is certain is the fact that everyone who shoots a bow either has or will suffer from target panic at some point. One of the most common symptoms of target panic is punching of the trigger on a mechanical release. This is caused by a fear of seeing your sight pin move in and out of your intended target. Your mind cannot handle this movement, so as soon as your pin moves on to the target you instinctively hit the trigger. I refer to these as drive byes. The problem with this type of shooting is that by the time your brain relays the message to hit the trigger to your finger, your sight pin has already moved off its target. The outcome is usually a poor group or a missed shot. This is a very difficult habit to break, but with steady work and an open mind, it can be overcome. The way to prevent this is to activate the trigger on your release with back tension. To explain this I will try and go through it systematically.

  1. Draw your bow back to full draw.
  2. Place your finger on the trigger of your release. Your finger should curl around so that the trigger sits deeply into your first knuckle. Pretend that your finger is now immobilized. You are only going to be using it as a hook.
  3. Aim at the intended target, allowing your sight pin to float in and out of the target.
  4. While aiming, gradually increase the amount of pressure across your back by rotating your shoulder blades together.
  5. If done correctly, this stretching motion will cause the release to pull forward into your finger causing the release to go off automatically. The shot should startle you as it goes off. If it does you have successfully used back tension to execute your shot.

Keep in mind that this technique will be difficult to learn. However, if you stick with it you will see a noted improvement in your consistency. Some adjustments may need to be made to accommodate this style of shooting. Many people have the length of their release set much too long. If you are using a wrist type release, the release should be short enough so that you can barely place your finger behind the trigger.

This is just one form of target panic and one technique to help fight it. Next month I will discuss other methods to help you to illuminate this problem.

Good luck and good shooting,

Seth