Target panic and working through it -

If you have been shooting a bow for a significant amount of time, you probably have experienced target panic at some point.  Most people describe target panic as the inability to hold the sight pin on the dot or target they’re aiming at without pulling the trigger.  Most people who have target panic get the sight pin close to the dot and then pull the trigger.   

Dr. Grant Woods from GrowingDeer TV is one well-known hunter who has struggled with target panic.  Woods got to the point where he couldn’t even put his sight pin on the target without punching the trigger on his release.  It got so bad there wasn’t any way I was going to be able to kill a deer.  I was punching the trigger and couldn’t pick a spot on a target.  When my sight pin was on a target, I was done for,” Woods recalled.  

A friend of Dr. Woods suggested he try blind bale shooting to overcome target panic. Blind bale shooting is done by getting about 10 feet from a target, closing your eyes, drawing your bow and shooting. Most experts recommend doing this for several minutes a day for two weeks without opening your eyes and shooting at a target the way it is normally done. “I was very skeptical at first, but I gave it a try. I would draw, close my eyes, and focus on slowly squeezing the trigger and not punching the trigger,” Woods added.

The muscle memory part of the exercise is extremely important. Part of the reason it is difficult to get over target panic is because punching the trigger when you settle a sight pin on a target becomes a habit and your mind and muscles get used to the habit. “When I close my eyes, I really concentrate on executing the shot without making any quick movements and without slapping or punching the trigger. Because my eyes aren’t opened when I do this exercise, I am not as tempted to punch the trigger.,” Woods explained.

Eventually the new habit of slowly squeezing the trigger becomes a habit and your muscles know what to do. “I have overcome target panic by regularly shooting into a Morrell Target with my eyes closed. Even though I have overcome the problem, I perform this exercise often. I close my eyes and focus on my form, my anchor point, and the way I hold and shoot the release. By doing this repeatedly throughout the year, I have improved my shooting. Bowhunters need to make sure they are close to the target when blind bale shooting so the arrow always hits the target.”

By Tracy Breen

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