In Part 1 of this article, I went over ways you can improve your shot by getting on target, being okay with some movement and how these can increase your accuracy. Part 2 is going to cover physical changes you can make to increase your accuracy in order to prevent target panic and the bad habits that go along with it. Some of these ideas may require you to make a purchase; however, most just require you to think about the way you are doing things. As previously mentioned, good form and confidence combat the anxiety and worry that cause target panic. Knowing you are doing everything the best way can definitely help keep your nerves calm and release a flawless shot in competition or on a monster bull or buck out West.
A lot of the cause of my personal target panic was my release, my familiarity with my release and how I would execute my shot. As previously mentioned, throughout my youth, I was slowly becoming an expert on punching the trigger right when I thought I needed to. Sometimes, I would travel up or down through my target and try to time my trigger punch just right and sometimes I would try to stop by tensing my body just long enough to release a shot on target. Both of these “techniques” caused me to develop a horrible habit. Not only did it become a habitat to punch the trigger on my caliper release, but I also subconsciously learned exactly how much pressure it took to release my calipers and send my arrow flying exactly when I thought I wanted to.
Again, I had some success, but, also, never could get as consistently accurate as I wanted and was constantly getting outshot. If you find yourself doing this, a really easy way to fix it is to change your current release or get a new one. Changing the Allen screw on your release so it fires under a different amount of pressure or using a hinge-style release that surprises you might just be the ticket that allows the shot to come off naturally and increase your accuracy.
Another issue that you might be having that is affecting your shot placement, increasing your anxiety and, ultimately, giving you target panic is an improperly set up bow. For a lot of my life, I thought I could set up my own bow, sight, peep, d-loops, etc. and I did an okay job. It was not until I gained more experience and worked with some excellent bow technicians that I realized I was actually hurting myself because I didn't know what I didn't know. My peep was too small or too big for the housing on my bow. I was using pins that were too big and gained too much light that they were blurry or pins that were too small and I was seeing double. My peep was slightly too high or too low where I was having to dip my nose or actively try to center my housing every shot. And the list goes on and on. Ultimately, you should pull back your bow and everything should naturally be in the correct place. Then, you should be able to look through your peep and clearly see your pins and clearly see your target at the same. If this is not happening go down to your local and reputable bow shop and have them help you get things perfect. If you have to make corrections to how you look at something or are having trouble focusing on the pin or target, then you could be inaccurate, which could lead to target panic.
Another issue that you might be having that is leading you to inconsistent shots and, eventually, into target panic is your grip. If you are new to archery, it might not be common knowledge; however, you shouldn’t just pick up and squeeze the grip on a bow. If you do this the muscles in your hand will actually create torque that can affect your shot and throw your arrow in slightly different flight paths every shot. There is a wrinkle in every person's hand that starts in their wrists and runs up between their pointer finger and thumb. The main key to a successful grip is to keep the bow’s grip on the thumb side of that line so your bow is not touching both major hand muscles. Then, you want to grip the bow loosely, remembering that the most important thing is consistency. There are a lot of different ways to grip a bow; however, as long as you are not touching the grip with both muscles and always do it the same, you will be alright. Some people have been known to put tape, glue or other guides on their bow grip in order to consistently hold it the same way.
There are a plethora of other issues that can affect your accuracy, which can lead to a lack of accuracy, confidence and, eventually, target panic. Some of these are improperly weighted arrows, old bow strings, a bad bow tune, too much or little draw weight and the list goes on and on. A good archery shop is an excellent resource to help you get started with a new bow and also help you become accurate. If you just started shooting your bow, be sure to have them help you select the correct bow, start with the correct form and prevent you from developing bad habits that can lead to target panic. If you have been shooting for years, do not be afraid to ask the experts for some guidance on things that might be wrong. Overall, the goal of every archer is to be confidently and consistently accurate on every single shot so make some changes and kick some bad habits in order to get there.