Rob Shooting

Target Panic – Your journey starts now

So, I have come to the last of the articles on target panic. This will conclude the series and I will recap on a few things.
First off, I’d like to say thanks for sticking with me. I didn’t think it would take this long to get to the concluding post, but there has been a few things come up in 2020 no one expected. I’ve included a list here of all the posts ansd looking back I never thought it would run to 10 articles.

  1. Target Panic and the archer part 1
  2. Target Panic and the archer part 2
  3. Target Panic and the archer part 3
  4. Arrows role in overcoming target panic
  5. Target panic and how knowing our bows can help
  6. Before we start a quick reminder
  7. Target Panic techniques – drawing down
  8. Target panic techniques & blank boss shooting and Target face anxiety
  9. Target panic techniques – Draw, track, come down

Secondly, I’d like to say all the tactics, all the coping strategies, no matter how good they are, along with all the techniques are a waste of time and will fail. There, I’ve said it.

So, your immediate thought now is WHAT!! Why have you bothered to write all these articles? Why have I as a follower, spent the time reading them?

Well let me qualify what I have just said.
All the advice and the guidance is worth squat, it is completely pointless, doomed to failure even. If you don’t put work and effort in. If you don’t put the effort, commitment and work in. You, not me, but YOU. So it over to you now.
I said in the first post there is no magic arrows. It requires you to put the work in. To spend time trying the different techniques, not just once or twice, but over a few weeks. Then you can find ones that works consistently for you.
You can read every word ever written, watch every second of YouTube videos, listen to every minute of podcasts, but it will do you very little good. Why?
Simply because you need to apply this knowledge, you need to practise the techniques, apply the theory to yourself and your own situation.
I told you right at the start you would need a fair degree of patience and persistence and I meant it. Work for it and it will work for you.

I was listening to Sir Ken Robinson in one of his TED talks recently. In it he talks of engaging in the task but not fulfilling it. That struck a chord with me as I have seen so many people do this. He speaks of how you might be teaching in a room but are those people learning? For that matter is anyone learning or are they going through the motions? You might be coaching a group or individual at your club but are those individuals actually learning?
I can write hundreds even thousands of words, but if you as the reader, the archer, the student, don’t apply it then don’t expect to improve your situation. I don’t see it as a waste of my time as if one person finds this of use and it helps them then I’ve done some good. That was why I started this series of articles.

I’m going to reference another author John Hudson who writes of the survival triangle in this recent book How to Survive: Lessons for Everyday Life from the Extreme World. Hope > plan > work. This triangle of words is applicable to archery as any other activity in modern life.

Survival triangle

In these posts I have spoken of the shot sequence and how important I see it in helping to combat target panic or anxiety. Now I know it may sound strange, an instinctive archer talking about shot sequence so much. The reason I do is simple. The shot sequence as important to an instinctive archer as one who might be thought of as a technical or non-instinctive archer. An instinctive archer will want to feel the shot is right. But their brains / feelings can send wrong messages sometimes or when it doesn’t feel right, it can be hard to pin down the glitch. This is why I put emphasis on shot sequence.

If you know what you do and when you do it, you can work on getting it right every time. That is what you want to be able to do, get it right time after time.
Your brain always wants to be as effective and efficient as possible so it will do its best to speed processes up and take short cuts. This is not always what you want as sometimes those short cuts miss out important steps or become feed blocks.

Feedback v Feed Block

If you watch or read any material by Joel Turner, he talks of Open and Closed loop shooting. Well I tend to think of it as you either have a Feed block or Feedback. In the second example of a shot sequence back in the second article, I talk about “Does the draw up feeling right?” This is a feedback loop I have in my shot sequence to tell me if things are right. If they are and it feels right, then it is okay to continue otherwise stop and reset. It’s a way of stopping myself from executing a poor shot.
A feed block is when you get that feedback from your muscles or head and choose to block it out and continue with the shot. You want to avoid these as they don’t improve your situation. Work on developing the understanding the feedback your body, muscles and brain is giving you.

Spot it early

Learn to identify when you start to feel the butterflies in your gut start, before they turn into a target panic stampede of elephants. I feel these more often than people probably realise. The thing is when I feel it start I know what I have to do. I have tried and tested techniques now, but its’ taken me a long time to develop.
I’ll let you into a little secret. When I am on a peg there are times when I might be feeling a little uneasy about the shot I’m about to take. So, when I’m getting ready to shoot, I have a little mantra I say to myself to help me focus. It brings me back to the moment I am in and helps settle the nerves.
There are a few important elements. The terms, the phrasing and words used are positive not negative, reminding me of what I am and have been capable of. They are rhythmic and pull my focus to the moment in hand. I’ve known friends to write on the back of their bow hand “stay focused “.

There is an element of Mindfulness of focusing on the present current moment in time. For those of you who may not be familiar with mindfulness I have pulled up this definition.

“Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness

I have learnt to use the technique to bring my focus back to the process in hand, calming myself and taking the shot.

Going back to the first article I gave some examples of how target panic or shot anxiety can manifest. I am going to revisit these again but link them to strategies and techniques I have gone on to cover in subsequent articles.

  • As the archer approaches the peg they feel they have forgotten how to shoot, their brain goes blank. – this is where knowing your shot sequence, training your brain to know the process.
  • An archer may find it difficult to draw up on a target, with their bow feeling too heavy, they can feel like their muscles and brain aren’t communicating. Yet they can draw up perfectly well when not aiming on the target. – using the training techniques of drawing up and moving on off target
  • Archers may feel their kit is letting them down and be constantly altering the pressure on their button or adding / removing twists in their string. – remember the archers triangle and how knowing that your kit is right can reduce anxiety.
archers triangle graphic

The archers triangle

  • Some may be able to draw their bow, but release the string as soon as they have drawn up towards the target. Releasing the arrow long before they intend to or are on the target. They are effectively missing the aiming part entirely as they feel unable to hold on a target believing they must immediately release at full draw. – again, it is the training techniques and your time practising that will overcome this

Remember the definition of target Panic
“Target panic is a psychological—and perhaps neurological—condition experienced by many archers, both competitive and recreational.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_panic)

And how I defined it.

It is a level of anxiety felt by the archer, which can either result in manifesting in physical feelings of unease, loss of muscle control or manifest in the lack of mental skills such as concentration or focus. The level of anxiety varies widely and can present itself on the field or at stages before.

You can overcome these feelings of anxiety, through practise and I mean dedicated practise time. Good practise is vital. Practise without effort, direction or discipline is useless in respect to overcoming target panic.
Anyway, that is it. I could go on far more, but I am going to stop here. Remember you aren’t in this alone, there are coaches and other archers out there more than willing to help. Myself included.
I really hope you have found these posts of use. Please let me know if it helps or if you would like some help.
Stay safe and thanks for reading.

Off the Arrow Shelf Podcasts

A new development for me

Hi everyone. I wanted to share a development I am looking at for Off the Arrow Shelf.

Having been a listener for several years to different podcasts such as The Push, Nock On, Barebow Archery and most recently Archery Geek Outdoors, I thought I might give podcasting a go. So, I am looking at creating a few podcasts. At present it is a bit of a trial as I’m not sure how well it will go, but let see.

I am very fortunate to have a number of people that have helped me out over the years with this site from bouncing ideas off, to helping me with interviews and more. One person I’d like to say special thanks to with respect to the podcasts is Richard Clarke.

I’ve uploaded a few podcasts initially, just as a start. Let me know what you think or have any ideas on topics. I am wondering about doing some on target panic or maybe on wooden arrow construction based on my experiences.

You can listen to the podcasts on Spotify just search for off the arrow shelf and it’s on Anchor.fm  https://anchor.fm/off-the-arrow-shelf RSS link is here.

I’m not planning on stopping writing this site, but I am looking at trying to expand it if I have the time. For now though its a bit of an experiment. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and listening.