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Author Topic: Target Panic - Jim Ploen's article  (Read 881 times)

Offline Firstlight

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Target Panic - Jim Ploen's article
« on: February 24, 2019, 01:48:58 PM »
There is a a lot of good threads lately about TP and suggestions on over coming them.

While I've modified suggestions of Jay Kidwell, Joel Turner and MANY others to overcome TP, I think this following article surmises by Jim Ploen addresses the key issues I'm needing to be aware of. 

While I''m a firm believer in getting to know the feel of the shot at a blank bale, I still need to shoot in the situations which pressure.  This can be hunting, 3D or just stumping with a friend and feeling very competitive.

I can shoot with no TP in the back yard but at a 3D shoot, not so much, which means having a repeatable shot sequence which addresses the mental / concentration / confidence aspects of a good shot is greatly warranted.

Aiming off exercises (shooting the stickbow / anthony camera) or Jay Kidwell's are helpful but I've leaned for me, I really needed tools to address shooting under "pressure", while not relaxed; having the mental program to get through the entire shot cycle.

The most critical part of the for me seems to be in the critical mili seconds at full draw through release.  I think there is great value in this article w/ his analogy about "putting out the" candle flame".

Target Panic - by Jim Ploen

Before we can cure target panic we need to know the symptoms, the causes and the effects that this malady exerts on each of the acts of drawing the bow to anchor, holding to aim, and releasing the string The symptoms vary, but they include inability to come to full draw while aiming at the target, and being unable to move the bow to the proper aiming position to hit the intended target. It is a leading cause for would-be archers giving up the sport
Archery can be one of the simplest of sports, one in which one uses just a bow, a string, and an arrow. It is one that hold a fascination for many. The history of the bow is part of its appeal; it is so rich that one can make a life-long study of the bow, its materials, the woods used, the backings for the limbs, limb shape and bow lengths, grips, rests, sight windows, and their origins. Study of its history reveals that changes in materials, design and construction of the bow have occurred all through its history.

Despite all the design and material changes one thing has not changed in conventional archery, and that is the fact that in drawing the string, the archer provides the energy that is stored in the bow. As long as the bow has a string attached directly to the limb tips the principles are the same for recurves, flat bows, longbows, self-bows or composite bows. The archer provides the energy that is stored when bending the limbs by drawing the string. Nevertheless, the bows' design can contribute to shooter’s (target) panic. Not being able to reach a comfortable anchor because of the bow “stacks” is one major cause of target panic that can be greatly affected by bow design; anticipating hand-shock is another. “Stacking”, which is an accelerating increase in the force needed to draw an arrow each additional inch, can be recognized by plotting a force-draw cure. This is a plot of draw weight, usually at one-inch increments from brace-height to full draw. If the draw weight increases appreciably more during the last few inches than earlier in the draw, the bow is said to “stack”. Any increase over about four pounds per inch will feel to you as if you were hitting a wall as you try to reach your anchor. This can lead to target panic as you struggle to reach your anchor at the same time that you are trying to take careful aim at your target

The symptoms of target panic include not being able to draw to anchor, premature release of the string, flinching, snap shooting, and freezing. Freezing is the inability to move the bow arm when trying to adjust the alignment of the arrow. Most of these symptoms result from shooting a bow with too heavy a draw weight, but freezing can develop no matter what type of bow an archer chooses. The very act of drawing a heavy bow builds tension in the muscles being used and in the tendons that attach them to the bones that can lead to a protective reflex relaxation of the tension or a flexor reflex. A flexor reflex is a movement, which occurs without a conscious decision from the brain. There are many different types of reflexes, but the one we are the most aware of is the flexor reflex that reacts to pain and is part of our self-protection. We will quickly withdraw any part of our body the instant it is hurt. No conscious decision on our part is needed to jerk away from the area of pain. A lack of self-discipline that leads to the inability to control these reflexes while shooting is a major reason we lose so may archers and why the compound bow became so popular. The high let-off of the latter makes it much easier to hold at full draw with the muscles relaxed. Olympic style archers shooting at targets out to seventy and ninety meters are not able to group consistently with traditional recurve or long bows drawing more than forty?two to forty?six pounds for men. Our own physiological and psychological make up working for us yet against us make archery one of the most challenging of sports to master.

Input from other stimuli can also bring about reflexes. The brain tries to anticipate our actions and this in itself can trigger a conditioned reflex reaction. Can attempting to aim contribute to shooters' panic? Indeed it can! For instance the input through the eyes, seeing the movement of the sight or hand or alignment of the arrow can be enough to trigger a reflex release of the string. Whether one uses a bow sight, or the arrow tip in setting a gap, or simply uses the bow hand, as an aiming reference, freezing, is a form of target panic, can develop. Usually it begins only after the archer tries to master the skills needed to excel when he or she becomes aware of the difficulty involved in reaching the master level.

Much has been written about cures for panic. Each article has some merit because all that is needed to cure target panic temporarily is a change. It takes a little time to reacquaint to the new feel before reflexes again take over. I always enjoyed the statement that you can put a cigarette paper under your left heel and it will help for one shot. So will a new stance, or a squat, or a new grip like holding the bow far out on the thumb, pad or tucking a finger in between your hand and the bow grip. Changing anchors or a new tab or glove, changing draw weight, a new finger grip on the string also may help for a while. All of these changes can be of some benefit, but without a fundamental understanding of the causes and a set shooting style based on control to work from, we may think we know the reason for our miss or blame our problems on the equipment or poor selection of arrow matching to the bow.

After we go through learning procedures that are not instinctive but must be practiced consciously to develop strength and style, we can reach a stage where we can complete the actions with little conscious thought. The more we practice the more skilful we become in the acts of drawing, anchoring, holding, aiming, and releasing. Our conditioned reflexes also become honed to respond to the stimuli set-up by the very actions needed to perfect the shot
So where do we start? First, we must be able to recognize the problem. Then we must admit that we do have a problem and look for a positive program to develop new conditioned reflexes by retraining muscle memory and the brain circuitry to make us masters of ourselves in the act of shooting the bow. We are told that it takes twenty to twenty-one days to break and retrain a habit. In our case this means we need to shoot about 2,000 arrows shooting 100 arrows a day for twenty days without trying to test ourselves by going to a tournament that would interrupt our training program. Be sure that you know and recognize your problem. Is it your inability to reach an anchor? Shooting by feel without really aiming the arrow? Are you shooting without alignment? Snap shooting? Freezing off the spot? Know what your problem is and work at solving that problem. Develop a shooting style that has a solid basis and feels that to you. You must develop such a consistent form that you can recognize your shooting mistakes by where the arrows hit on the target when you know it was a well aimed arrow

Start your new training program using a light draw-weight bow; thirty-five to forty pounds is ideal. Stand about ten yards from your arrow backstop (with or without a target to aim at). Raise your bow to a pre-shooting position and align the arrow with your peripheral vision as you concentrate on the spot. This sets your bow hand and bow arm as well as aligning your drawing hand and arm. Concentrating your attention on "the spot" as you start your draw can be likened to moving your finger to the flame of a candle, likewise starting to feel the heat can be thought of as parallel to the brain starting to anticipate your coming to anchor. Just as the heat triggers a withdrawal reflex, concentrating on "the spot" can trigger a conditioned reflex release of the string. Similarly, the build-up of tension in the muscles may trigger a reflex release and the arrow goes were it happened to be pointed at that instant.

In order to gain control of our shot we must "blow out that candle", that is, remove the stimulus that prevented us from coming to a full draw. By that I mean that once you have pre-aimed in your set-up you must take your eye off the spot (like blowing out the candle) and look at the arrow shelf. Then watch the arrow as it comes back until you are at full draw at your selected anchor. Starting to refocus on the spot is like relighting that candle. The hot spot is there triggering a reflex, but at least you were at a full draw. That's a start, but it is not the answer to shooting with control. Control comes only when you come to feel that you are aiming at the cold wick not the hot flame of a lit candle. Take one step at a time to retrain, that is replace, all the conditioned reflexes that constitute target panic. This is going to take some hard and persistent work. After all you shot a lot of arrows developing those bad habits and reflex responses, and it will take a lot of controlled shots to replace them.

Start with your pre draw set-up. Pick and focus on "that spot" and aim the arrow with your peripheral vision. Then again blow out that candle by looking at your rest without moving your pre?aligned bow hand. Draw and you will come to a full draw, holding at your pre-selected anchor. Now close your eyes. Hold and get a feeling for holding, then release (with your eyes still closed). That is your second step. The first one was just to get you to anchor, second to close your eyes and feel the hold at the anchor. Shoot a lot of arrows with your eyes closed just to retrain your reflexes and to get a feeling for holding.

We will keep adding one more step at a time so that you do not start to anticipate the action and trigger an uncontrolled reflex. We are not introducing the aiming of the arrow at this time, only the pre-aim before we start the draw so that you can stay on target with your shot with your eyes closed. This is the time to add another step and that is the motivation for the release. With no hot spot you are able to draw to anchor and hold. Now its time to develop the release motivation. From the hold at your anchor firm the back muscles that move the scapulae of both the bow arm the drawing side in the back. The feeling is like that of pushing with one shoulder blade to firm the bow arm as you again start to draw by firming the scapula of the drawing shoulder. Do this in unison so both are working together, with equal intensity. That feeling of equal tension pulling both shoulder blades together is the motivation for a perfect in line release. Practice shooting in this manner for a couple of shooting sessions until it becomes learned and you start to shoot groups with your eyes closed. In this way you will be setting a routine that gives you something to do after the aim, in this case after you close your eyes. That means that aiming will not be the stimulus to release, that stimulus will be the feeling of restarting of the draw after aiming by firming the shoulder blades. It's the tightening that gives you an in?line release. This feel of starting to draw in the back will be come automatic and the motivation for releasing. The balance of tension between the scapulae will determine how closely your matched arrows will group in the target. This procedure to retrain and gain control of your reflexes and will take that 20 days or 2000 arrows to build the confidence needed to put you back in control of the shot

Putting it all together, shooting an aimed arrow with control starts with your pre-draw. Take a comfortable stance and hold your bow in a pre-draw to set the string alignment. It is important that you hold the bow so that the arrow is aligned with the target to match the arrow-plate build-out of your bow. Remember to align the string with the arrow not the center of the bow. (This will be covered under tuning in a later article). With both eyes open to help you to judge distance using your depth perception, pick a spot, and, in your scenic view of the target, you should see bow, arrow, target relationship. Then align the vertical alignment to set the arrow trajectory. Now, without moving the bow arm, start your draw. Keep looking at the arrow rest, not at the target, until you can come to a solid anchor and hold. It is important to let your focus change slowly from looking at the arrow rest to the spot on the target, to check your aiming of the arrow in your peripheral view. Now close the eye that you are not anchoring below and you will see a much clearer view of aiming the arrow, especially if you cant the bow slightly using the arrow as a pivot point.

Remember that aiming should not be a motivation to release or to cause a reflex release. You are aiming at the wick not the hot flame. You still have another step before you release, and that is the final setting of the scapula to firm the bow arm and tighten the muscles around the scapulae to set the in-line release. That setting the tension in your back should be your motivation to release. The flexor muscles for the fingers relax to release the string, and that should the feeling that sets off a conditioned reflex with balanced tension around the scapulae. The reflex is triggered by the proper tension in the back after the aiming. I think that you can now see what we are trying to accomplish by having a set procedure with steps that must be completed before the next step is introduced. In that way you do not start to anticipate the action that would trigger a reflex response to the action before the final start of the motivation for the in-line release. Once you are in control of the aim you will be able to set your own style and that may be keeping both eyes open, only closing one when needed, or keeping your focus on the spot through the draw to anchor and aim. Then start the motivation to release. You can always go back to the basic step-by-step format when you feel you are losing control.

Just remember that it will take time to retrain in the first place, so have patience. As you move back from the target, you will find that at some distance it will be harder to stay in control. Go back toward the target a few steps. Get your control and confidence and try again. Just remember any change without understanding the reason the change works will last only as long as it takes to become familiar with the change and you start to anticipate, setting yourself up for a reflex response without you being in control.

Offline Mark R

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Re: Target Panic - Jim Ploen's article
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2019, 06:37:09 PM »
I agree but the explanation is a bit too long for me to pay attention to, good to read though. Jim Casto Jr thread gives a precise and simple training program to follow that I think will work for most, I only say this because it is helping me and TP has only occasionally messed with me when shooting in unimportant situations not when hunting, seems I'm better at concentrating more when I have to and sometimes lazy when I don't have to, but I still want to be better anytime I pick up a Bow and have it ingrained in me without to much deliberation.   


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Re: Target Panic - Jim Ploen's article
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2019, 06:45:25 PM »
Read it, nope, I do not think it will fix anything.

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