Target Panic, or shot anticipation, is something that plagues us all from time to time. The good news is that if you’re struggling through it currently, you’re not alone. Even better news is that, YOU CAN BEAT IT! It’ll take a reconditioning of the brain and how you look at shooting and your shot. In this article I will go over the changes and drills to help you get to a better level of shooting and work through your demons.
To start with, we need to re condition your brain to look at what it’s doing differently. We need to take the focus off where the pin is, what it’s doing, and shift it to how your body feels and how the shot feels during the whole process. From set up, to draw, and follow through.
Start at 7 yards and place a target just above your shoulder height. This is important because it gives us two things. Perfect body positioning and also perfect muscle memory throughout all the drill. This gives us starting reference points to go off of and will let the brain hard wire itself to get flat, in line shoulders.
The first step to take here is to study your float pattern. No shooting here at all! Draw back, anchor, everything as normal up until execution. Watch the pin movement, DON’T control it. At all. Just watch it. Study it. See what it does, what patterns it makes, where it goes. Do this until you can draw back and hold on target and just be a person watching a ” video ” of your float pattern and have no jumps, flinches, or thought patterns of wanting the shot to go off. None of that. Just fall asleep looking haha Once you’re able to repeatedly do this with no problems at all, then go to counting while you’re doing this exercise. Count, watch the float pattern, and take mental notes. Say, “Okay, on my float I am steadiest between here and here. Then at this point (while counting) I start to open up my float or have irregularities and run out of breath.” Take notes of all of this and find patterns in the time frame of it all. This will be helpful later on when we develop your shot around shot timing.
Once you’ve had zero problems with any flinches or anticipation, start shooting arrows. It’s very, VERY important here to not focus on controlling the pin or worrying about placement of where the arrow lands. Placement of where the arrow lands is absolutely irrelevant right now. What is relevant is watching your float pattern and seeing if it changes based on how you’re firing your release and executing the shots. If it is, take notes of what is different. What movements differ. When they’re different. How the body feels while the movement on the pin is different. This all tells us what we need to change in your execution. This is a big factor because you can hold great being perfectly still, but when you add movement into the release things change. We want to keep things from changing drastically, and get them as close to not changing at all, within what is possible.
Once we’ve developed the right execution method to begin with, then we need to start focusing on watching the pin float while executing shots. Same as before with just holding on target. Just watch what happens and take notes of how the body feels different. When it feels great take special note of that. Becoming in tune with how you feel makes a world of difference. It lets your brain develop what is a perfect shot based on the feel, not the down range results. Because once we get the feel correct, along with the best float you can achieve throughout the entire shot process, the down range results take care of themselves.
Now, once you’re able to go through all of these drills with zero flinches and anticipation, we are ready to start the shooting drills to find perfect lengths, tuning, and shot placements.
Take your time on this. If it takes a day, great. If it takes weeks, great. In the end, the work you put in here in the beginning is what will make you become the best archer you’re able to. Because when you have a bad day, you can focus on what feels off and correct that. Then you have less bad shots, better scores, and more fun.