Have you ever walked into a tournament and been afraid of something; missing the target, not doing as good as you have at another tournament, or even just being afraid of the target itself?
This is known as target panic or fright.
I have been shooting NASP® for four years and was getting good; however, at the beginning of my last year things took a drastic turn. I went from constantly shooting 280-290s to shooting 240-250. I was struggling and could not figure out why. I was shooting about 100 arrows or more every night and still was not improving. I tried different things to try and fix this.
First, I got new glasses because it helps to see when the target while you are shooting. However, that only made a minor change.
I was super frustrated and my coach could not figure out why I was shooting how I was. My form itself was good. When he could not figure out what was happening, he had our state coordinator watch me at a tournament to see if he noticed anything.
That Sunday at practice I heard something I did not want to hear and something that I did not know what it meant. My coach had told me that he and the state coordinator thought I had target panic. I was told not shoot for a week, and to take a break from shooting. At first, I was frightened and anxious because I did not know what was going to come next.
Through all of this I have found a few things that worked to help me overcome it.
First and foremost, stepping back and taking a break, whether that is completely or just backing off on the amount you are shooting every time. Although this was hard for me to do because archery is my stress reliever and the thing that I really love doing. Overall, this was helpful for me because it gave me a fresh start to come back and start again.
Although I was not shooting that week, I did not let my time be wasted, I spent most of my free time researching and reading on what target panic was and how to overcome it. While researching I found that it takes about three months to go through and overcome it; however, there was one issue, I only had about three weeks until our state tournament.
The next thing I did was limit the amount I would shoot every night. Instead of shooting one hundred arrows or more, I limited myself to just what I would shoot in a tournament.
The final thing that I found helped me really overcome target panic was to just work on shooting a target that was not that far, roughly five feet away. The target had a blank face so all I had to focus on was my fundamentals. I spent this time focusing on making sure that I was drawing, anchoring, aiming, and releasing the same every time. I would focus on the basics that way I knew that I had the basics down and the last thing I had to overcome was keeping myself from getting in my head and not pressuring myself.
The one thing that I found to really help me stay out of my head and not pressuring myself was to not look at the score board for the tournament before I shot. I did not want to be worried about how much I had to shoot to beat the top person. When I would focus on the score, I would get in my head faster and would bring myself down because I was not shooting how I needed to shoot to be the best archer there.
I needed to just focus on the basics and just shooting my best for that tournament.
Kelby was a 2022 student contributor. To read her other submissions, click here.