Helping with Target Panic

I often see archers beseeching others on the Internet to help them with their target panic. A common response is “go here, do what he says.” If you actually do go there” often the TP treatment is “Do X. do Y, then do Z and all will be well.”

This almost never works (sometimes, yes, but more often “no”). The reason, in my opinion of course, is that some really important steps are left out. Below I list these steps and why they cannot be left out.

Step 1: Fix the Archer’s Equipment
This must be the first thing done, otherwise the bow will be fighting any program using it. If the archer’s draw length is too long; if the archer’s draw weight is too high (aka the archer is overbowed), if the bow is just too danged heavy, no program will work. You must fix these things first. This may require an interview with the archer, if so, just ask them what kinds of things intrude upon his/her shots. That list should tell you what needs fixing. If you do not, everything that is wrong will create an interruption of the shot process (shaking, twinging muscles, pains of various sorts, etc.), making every shot different.

Step 2: Fix the Archer’s Form
This is normally done Blank Bale. The archer needs a simple, fairly quick shot process. The sequence needs to be written down and the archer needs to be able to shoot shots quickly (fairly quickly, not blazing fast) with their new shot process.

Step 3: Always (Always) Include a Pre-shot Rehearsal
This usually takes the form of a passionate imagining/visualization of a perfect shot, just before raising the bow to take an actual shot. Some coaches object to the term visualization because the “rehearsal” needs to involve as many senses as your imagination can conjure up. This needs to be a vivid rehearsal, one involving sounds, smells, whatever, as well as sights.

This rehearsal is important because it is basically an instruction set for your subconscious mind. You are saying to it: do this shot just like this. Holding that “video” in memory lasts only about nine seconds max, so this should only be done immediately before making the actual shot.

Why?
Here is the “why” for all three of the above steps. If you do not do this rehearsal, you are basically going into each shot with no plan. I call this path finding mode: you are searching for the path to follow to make this shot based upon clues (broken twigs, footprints, etc.) you find along the way. Do you have a specific list of such clues? No, you do not (with a few exceptions like a steady aperture/arrow point in the right spot), so you are looking for . . . whatever . . . clues and, trust me, you will find them, too many of them.

If your bow is too heavy, your bow arm will shake, or your sight aperture/arrow point will fall below your POA. If your bow has too much draw weight, your muscles will fatigue quickly and will shake, giving you an unsteady sight picture which will lead you to wait in the hopes of it becoming less shaky (it won’t). If your draw length is too long, your full-draw-position will be unstable, leading to shaking at full draw, and so on. (I recommend jettisoning the “steady sight aperture” clue altogether: (a) it is never steady so you are looking for “steady enough” which means (I don’t know!), (b) if you try to control it you will make it worse. A steady sight picture is a consequence of doing quite a few things correctly, not something you do.)

Fix the equipment.

Fix the archer’s form.

Introduce the pre-shot rehearsal and get them to commit to it while fixing the archer’s form.

Then: do X, do Y, do Z and they may just work.

 

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