The horrible TP word! Now that right there is one hellofa gory subject matter, is it not. I don’t know about you, but just typing that nasty word created uncomfortable, even painful rumblings in my belly, and I do believe I detected a serious flinch by the time I got to the letter “P” in panic.
OUCH! Must we?
Doggone it anyway, why would God create blowflies, mosquitoes, gnats, blackflies, skunks, meth, Grateful Dead noise and socialists? I dare anyone to inform me of any redeeming merits whatsoever in these various scourges and wasted air. Ugh! So goes life with all its good, bad and ugly.
Obviously there is unlimited good in life, especially when we are here, but we must be realists and honest about the bad and the ugly, and in my 65 years of arrow flinging joys, I can think of nothing more bad and ugly than the dreaded curse of TargetPanic. And let us all work together starting right now to always make it a single, compound word. It is a single compound ugliness afterall, so in order to eradicate or at the very least manage this royal pain in the ass archer’s malady, work with me to end the scourge. Please.
There has been much written about this weird, inexplicable psychotic condition, and until I experienced it first hand, there was no way you could have convinced me of its existence. It’s just too weird to explain, but real as a heart attack..
As if any of us can’t direct Mr. Hand to grab, point and maneuver anything we wish to any direction we desire. To attempt to explain TP to a nonbeliever is a lesson in the absurd, for who could possibly fathom that anyone could be incapable of positioning one’s hand anywhere, anyhow, anytime one wishes.
Oh if it were just not so.
TP is literally a psycho brainfart that overwhelms one’s simply motorskills, that short-circuits the brain sending signals to our bowhand. I know, that’s ridiculous and couldn’t possibly be real. When it slammed home between my eyes in 1977, I thought I had died and gone to anti-archery hell, for at the time I was a virtual Robin Hood with my longbows and recurves, and could pretty much hit anything anywhere anytime I decided to send an arrow into it.
Talking about confused! But lucky, lucky me, I was able to call a dear friend who might be able to help me out, and thank God in heaven, that good friend just happened to be a gentleman by the name of Fred Bear.
His first response was a sly chuckle, which quickly turned into a sincere, loving and compassionate attempt to soothe his apparently overly distraught young mentor.
My first relief came when Fred explained how he had it bad years before, when he was the reigning archery champion and was so grief-stricken that he was certain he would have to give up his beloved life of archery and bowhunting.
We discussed the various manifestations of freezing off target, or violently jerking our bowhand at the moment of arrow release, but when you have TP, you know you have it, and it doesn’t really matter how it individually manifests its ugly self, the most important points to be made are the tried and true effective remedies to manage it.
And here is the list that has saved me and countless others from hanging up our bows and giving up our most beloved lifestyle. Those who fail to work on all these points during archery target practice to discover the one’s most beneficial to them, do indeed end up hanging up their bows to never bowhunt again.
And that is a tragedy, because I am convinced it can be managed to the degree necessary to totally enjoy the best bowhunting of our lives.
As I’ve stated before, I am convinced that the #1 cause of attrition and or lack of recruitment into archery and bowhunting is the crazy tunnelvision of the archery industry to obsess with velocity and power.
I repeat; bowhunting and archery is not about velocity and power. It is all about stealth and grace. Period.
TargetPanic Management 101
Go to an ultra-lightweight draw bow with no sights. I’m talking kiddy weight, like 20-35# so there is virtually no tension at full draw.
Get a big, solid target backstop that the arrows will stick in and shoot at a small 2” black dot on a paper plate or similar single focus target. But ALERT!! You are NOT trying to hit the dot. This drill has nothing to do with accuracy, but all about shot sequence muscle memory and form. FOCUS ON THE DOT but do not worry about hitting it.
Stand only 10 feet from the target, pay close attention to every detail of your archery form, shoot 1 arrow with both eyes open, then every other arrow with both eyes closed. Seriously concentrate on stance, gentle grip, smooth draw, solid consistent anchor, and ultra-smooth release, every arrow. Repeat as many times as you can until you have rock solid muscle memory of each step in your shot sequence. The release is ultra-critical. Your brain must execute the release like breathing itself, second nature.
Slowly over extended time slightly increase your draw weight, but never beyond a graceful, smooth, easy to draw weight. A 30# bow will kill deer all day long with a two-blade broadhead in the pumpstation. Forget feet per second. Think smooth and graceful and never go back to bow humping ever again.
Once you put sights back on your bow, start shooting real close to the target. If TP hits you, go back to square one.
I told you it’s ugly, and the road to recovery is not pretty, but it does indeed get you there. I am living proof. I had/have it bad, but manage via above to the point where my bowhunting and backstrap flowage is the best it has ever been.
And I do fumble back into the occasional TP hiccup, and immediately go to the remedy well for a bucketful of healing water!
Don’t give up. Help your friends. Warn new potential archers that a bow that is difficult to draw smoothly will indeed substantially increase this dreaded TargetPanic BS.
I am convinced that if the archery industry would just make lighter weight bows available everywhere and quit selling 70# bows to everyone, we could double our bowhunting numbers across the land overnight and pretty much eliminate the nasty curse of TargetPanic that cause so many to quit.
Good hunting, good shooting, be graceful and shootemup.