GWG: Archery Target Panic & How To Overcome It


Have you ever shot a rifle, shotgun or pistol and found yourself flinching? This is considered a form of target panic. A similar thing can happen with archers. No, there is not the loud bang when you pull the trigger on your release while shooting archery, but at times our brains can’t differentiate from one type of trigger to the other and cause archery target panic.

A basic release has a trigger just like a firearm does. When an archer pulls or squeezes the trigger it releases the arrow, just like a firearm releases a bullet. What happens is our fingertip, which has a ton of nerves in it, tells our brain ‘hey I am pulling the trigger and it is going to send this arrow flying so be ready for an explosion.’ So before we can tell our minds that there is not going to be an explosion, it has already prepared itself for the trigger to be pulled and our body reacts with a flinch or we close our eyes in anticipation of the shot. Seems silly right?

I mean there is very little noise when an arrow is shot, but it’s all about those nerves in our fingertips warning our brain. Generally, we appreciate the warning that our fingers give us, like when something is hot or sharp but sometimes when we are shooting it causes us issues.

So, how do we get past this type of target panic?

Target Panic

There are several options to overcome target panic. You can change to a different style of release, make a small adjustment to how you pull your trigger, and do some exercises. Let’s go over some of these options:

Depending on what type of shooting you are doing, changing your release may not be ideal, but let’s talk about your options; The thumb release is a release that works just like its name says. This is a handheld release that you trigger with your thumb. You wrap your thumb around the trigger so that you are using the less sensitive part of your thumb to initiate the “explosion.” The other type of release is called a back tension release. Again it works just like its name says, these take the most getting used to and are not recommended for hunting. The way that they work is once you are on the target you will initiate your back muscles and that tension will release your arrow. These are very effective to prevent target panic because your brain has no idea when that arrow is going to be released. Back tension releases are great for target shooting.

What about if you don’t want to change your release?

No worries. Here is a great way to trick your brain; it takes just a couple of adjustments and practice reps to get used to shooting a little differently. First off, make sure that your release is short enough that you can make a hook with your trigger finger and wrap it around your trigger. This is going to feel a little awkward to hook your D loop but once you drawback it will be perfect. The hook does a couple of things, first off it gets your finger tip-off of the trigger, so all of those nerves aren’t telling your brain that you are going to shoot. Secondly, it will allow you to squeeze the trigger rather than punch or slap it. Now that you have the hook made, try using your back muscles to pull your entire arm back while keeping your hook. This method is similar to the back tension release, but you have more control for let down and is a better method for hunting. By using your back muscles, your brain doesn’t know exactly when your arrow is going to be released.  Be aware that making these two adjustments may cause your arrow to fly a little differently so you may need to adjust your sight one way or the other depending on the effects.

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