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Bowhunting Tips: The Aiming Drill

Levi Morgan |  

bowhunting aiming drill

If you’ve shot a bow long enough, you’ve probably heard about – or experienced for yourself – the demon we call “target panic.” The main form of target panic is best described as the inability to hold your pin on the target and squeeze the release slowly enough to cause surprise when it fires. Essentially, you punch the release prematurely. While there are many forms of target panic, and just as many ways to cure it, there are a few things you can do to prevent or beat this horrible condition. Surprisingly, the one solution I’m most fond of doesn’t even require you to fire an arrow.

The main form of target panic derives from what I call “anxious aiming.” This occurs when the pin settles in where you want it to and you feel like you have to fire that release immediately. The problem with firing a release on command (the way 90 percent of people trigger their release) is that from the time your mind tells you to fire that shot to the act of your finger actually doing it is enough time to move off the spot. Generally, this is the main cause of inconsistent groups. You may say you don’t have target panic, but if you can’t aim in the middle and slowly fire that shot, then I’ve got some bad news: you have target panic. Luckily there is a cure for this.

You are probably wondering how I can suggest solving this problem without even shooting an arrow, but the fact is, the problem lies between your ears, not in the act of shooting. What you need to do is commit two weeks to the cure. Every day or every chance you get, go out in the yard with an arrow nocked, just like you would normally practice. You will simply draw the bow and address the target, aiming with your finger on the trigger – but don’t pull that release; you want to focus only on aiming. Keep that pin where you want the arrow to hit until your aiming starts to break down. Then let down and reset, never firing the arrow. Treat this just as you would any practice session, except never actually shoot your bow.

This will do two things that benefit you greatly as an archer. First, it will teach your mind that it is OK for that pin to settle on the bull's-eye without firing that arrow. Second, it will increase the length of time during which you can effectively aim before your shot breaks down. Over time, you will be able to add shooting back into your routine, but if you ever feel those anxious or rushed feelings, take a few days and just commit to this simple drill.

Target panic is a horrible thing, and if you don’t know how to cure it, it can really mess with your confidence, taking the fun out of shooting your bow. Even if you aren’t struggling with target panic, this aiming drill can and will make you a better archer, regardless of whether you are a novice or a top-level competitor.

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