Conquer Target Panic and Buck Fever using simple techniques outlined in this post.

Conquer Target Panic: Expert Techniques for Bowhunters

Today, we’re going to tackle a topic that’s near and dear to many of our hearts (and nerves) – target panic. If you’ve ever found yourself drawing back your bowstring, only to feel your pulse quicken and your hands start to shake, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. But don’t worry; I’ve been there too, and I’m here to help.

Target panic is a common challenge faced by bowhunters of all skill levels, but the good news is that it’s not insurmountable. With some tried-and-true techniques and a healthy dose of perseverance, you can conquer your target panic and get back to enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

In this post, we’ll explore the different names for target panic, discuss its symptoms, and delve into some effective strategies for overcoming this pesky problem. So, grab a seat by the campfire, and let’s get started on our journey to becoming calmer, more confident bowhunters.

Learn how to shoot a compound bow using the 8 fundamentals or shooting a bow.

What is Target Panic?

Target panic is a mental challenge that many archers, including myself, face when bow hunting or target shooting. It’s a form of performance anxiety that occurs when you’re trying to aim and release your arrow. Instead of being able to calmly and accurately execute your shot, your mind starts to interfere, causing you to feel stressed, anxious, or rushed. This often results in poor shot execution and reduced accuracy.

In my years of bow hunting, I’ve come to realize that target panic goes by many names, and trust me, we’ve all been there! So, if you’ve ever experienced those heart-pounding, nerve-wracking moments before taking a shot, know that you’re in good company. Let’s take a light-hearted look at some of the common terms used to describe target panic in the bow hunting community.

  1. Buck fever: Ah, the classic case of buck fever. It’s that adrenaline surge that hits you like a freight train when you see a massive buck stepping into range. Suddenly, your hands are shaking, your heart is racing, and your once-steady aim becomes as wobbly as a newborn fawn.
  2. Shot anxiety: This one’s not exclusive to bow hunting, but it sure does rear its head when you’re out in the woods with your trusty bow. Shot anxiety is like that nagging voice in the back of your mind that whispers, “You’re going to mess this up.” But don’t worry, we’re here to silence that pesky voice and help you regain your confidence at full draw.
  3. Performance anxiety: We’ve all felt the pressure to perform well in various aspects of life, and bow hunting is no exception. Performance anxiety can manifest in target panic-like symptoms, making it difficult to execute a smooth and accurate shot.
  4. Bowhunting jitters: Ah, the bowhunting jitters – those butterflies in your stomach that seem to multiply as you draw back your bowstring. It’s as if every muscle in your body decides to go rogue at the worst possible moment!

So, whether you call it buck fever, shot anxiety, performance anxiety, or the bowhunting jitters, know that you’re not alone in experiencing target panic. It’s a common challenge faced by many of us in the bow hunting world, but don’t worry – I’ve got your back! Stay tuned as I share some valuable insights and strategies to help you face target panic head-on and get back to enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

READ: How to Shoot a Compound Bow: Beginner’s Guide

Symptoms of Target Panic

There are several symptoms of target panic that I’ve experienced or seen in others.

These may include:

  • Rushing the shot: Instead of taking the time to properly aim and execute a smooth release, you might feel an overwhelming urge to release the arrow as soon as it’s near the target. This can lead to inconsistent and inaccurate shots.
  • “Freezing” off the target: You might find it difficult to keep your sight pin steady on the target, or you might even avoid placing the pin on the target altogether. This could be due to the fear of making a bad shot or the anxiety of anticipating the release.
  • Anticipating the release: If you’re using a release aid, you might start to “punch” the trigger, meaning you quickly and aggressively press the trigger instead of executing a smooth and controlled release. This can lead to jerky movements and affect your shot accuracy.
  • Inconsistent anchor points: When experiencing target panic, it’s common to struggle with maintaining a consistent anchor point, which is crucial for shot consistency and accuracy.
  • Breathing difficulties: You may notice that your breathing becomes shallow or erratic when aiming, which can make it difficult to remain calm and focused during the shot process.
  • Trembling or shaking: The stress and anxiety associated with target panic can cause your hands or body to tremble or shake, impacting your ability to hold the bow steady and execute a clean shot.
  • Lack of confidence: Target panic can lead to a loss of confidence in your shooting abilities, causing you to second-guess your technique and make last-minute adjustments that negatively affect your shot.
Slightly offset weaver-style shooting stance, feet facing toward the target.

Overcoming Target Panic with Blank Bale Shooting

There is no definitive “single best way” to overcome target panic, as different methods work better for some people than others. However, many experts agree that practicing a technique called “blank bale shooting” is highly effective in addressing target panic. This simple yet powerful exercise can help you break free from the grip of target panic by allowing you to focus on what truly matters – your form, shot execution, and follow-through.

Blank bale shooting involves practicing your shot sequence on a target without any defined aiming points, such as a blank bale of hay or an empty target face. This way, you can hone your skills without the pressure of hitting a specific spot, which can contribute to target panic. Trust me, there’s something incredibly freeing about letting go of the need to aim and just focusing on the feel of the shot.

To make the most of your blank bale shooting sessions, be sure to practice regularly and with complete focus on your shot process. Remember, the goal here is to retrain your mind and body to execute a smooth and controlled shot without any anticipation or anxiety.

Use the blank bale technique for conquering target panic.

And, of course, don’t forget to combine blank bale shooting with other strategies we’ve discussed, such as using a release aid, visualization, and mental training. These complementary techniques will help you build a solid foundation for overcoming target panic and becoming the calm, confident bowhunter you know you can be.

So, give blank bale shooting a try, and remember that patience and consistency are key. It might take some time to see noticeable improvements, but with dedication and determination, you’ll be well on your way to conquering target panic once and for all.

READ: Compound Bow Shooting Tips for Beginners

Using a Hinge-Style Release

Using a hinge-style release (also known as a back tension or rotation release) can be an effective way to address target panic. A hinge-style release operates differently from a trigger-style release, as it doesn’t have a trigger mechanism. Instead, the release activates by rotating the release aid in your hand as you apply consistent pressure and tension throughout your shot. This encourages a surprise release, which can be helpful in reducing target panic.

Here are some thoughts on using a hinge-style release to combat target panic:

  1. Develops a surprise release: Since there’s no trigger to “punch,” a hinge-style release can help eliminate anticipation and promote a smoother, more consistent shot execution.
  2. Encourages proper form: Using a hinge-style release requires you to maintain proper back tension and alignment throughout your shot, which can improve your overall shooting form and accuracy.
  3. Mental shift: Switching to a hinge-style release may help you focus more on your form and shot execution rather than aiming, allowing you to break the cycle of target panic.
  4. Requires practice: It’s essential to practice with a hinge-style release, as it operates differently from a trigger-style release. Be prepared to invest a lot of time in learning and becoming comfortable with this type of release before using it in a hunting or competitive setting.

Remember that everyone’s experience with target panic is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to experiment and practice with different techniques and equipment to find the best solution for your unique situation. Using a hinge-style release can be an effective strategy for some archers, but it’s crucial to be patient and dedicated to mastering the new release method.

Hinge style release for aiding with target panic.
Use a Hinge-Style Release to Aid with Target Panic

Other Methods to Conquer Target Panic

To overcome target panic, it’s crucial to focus on building a strong mental game and developing a consistent shot routine. Some strategies that have helped me and others include:

  1. Using a surprise release: When using a release aid, try to focus on slowly squeezing the trigger, allowing the release to “surprise” you. This can help prevent anticipating the release and punching the trigger.
  2. Breathing and visualization techniques: Incorporate deep breathing exercises and mental visualization of successful shots into your practice routine to help calm your nerves and build confidence.
  3. Working with a coach or experienced archer: Seeking guidance and support from a knowledgeable person can help you identify and correct issues in your form, technique, and mindset.

It’s important to remember that overcoming target panic takes time, patience, and consistent practice. Be patient with yourself and stay committed to improving your mental game and technique to tackle this common challenge. Progress may be slow, but with dedication, you’ll see positive results.


In conclusion, target panic is a common challenge many bow hunters face, but with the right strategies and consistent practice, it’s possible to overcome it. As you implement the techniques mentioned in this blog post and continue refining your mental game and shooting technique, you’ll be better prepared for those high-pressure moments in the field. The next time you’re out hunting and spot that elusive buck, you’ll have the confidence and skill needed to make a precise, well-executed shot. Remember, patience and persistence are key, so keep practicing and honing your skills. Good luck, and happy hunting!

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