Advice on Aiming – How to Beat "Target Panic," "Gold Rush" and Other Problems

Aiming can be a tricky thing. You’ve got to remember to do it (we’ve all forgotten to aim on shots, right?), but you don’t want to be aiming for too long. This article sets out a few solutions for those having problems.

Not aiming at all

This is where an archer releases almost as soon as reaching full draw, and often gets called ‘target panic,’ or for recurve archers ‘gold rush’. This, unfortunately, affects most archers to some degree at some point, and is very frustrating. It also illustrates how large a role our subconscious mind has to play in a shot, as opposed to the rational, computing way we think we go about shooting.

While there are no hard and fast solutions for target panic, the following are a few pointers that I personally have found helpful.

  • Forget scoring for a while; focus solely on correcting your technique.
  • Move closer to the target – a lot closer if necessary. When shooting close to the target it becomes far easier to feel the shot because we focus more on what our bodies are doing – at long distance focus shifts to conscious aiming. Take some time out of your regular rounds to shoot up close to the target, not more than ten metres or so, and shoot with your eyes closed. Forget completely about where you are aiming and where your arrows are going, and focus only on your technique. Hopefully, you will find this strangely liberating, and you may be surprised by how your arrows group on the target. This is your subconscious aiming at work – your brain still aims even when your eyes are closed!
  • Count to three at full draw. Very simple, but harder than you might think if you’re used to shooting very quickly.

Aiming too much

Aiming too much can actually paralyse your shot, leading you to over-analyse what you are doing. Remember, shooting should be a drawn out movement where you effectively aren’t still at any point – even at full draw you need to be maintaining back-tension. And unless this has become second nature to you, this is what you need to be focusing on. Over-aiming often leads to problems with your release, forward losing and fatigue.

If this happens to you, again a possible answer is to move up-close to the target, and shoot with your eyes closed. It will force you to focus on your technique rather than worrying too much about where your arrows are going, and this is the mindset you need to then take back to your regular rounds.

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