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Missing/ choking

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I've missed a lot of deer and have managed to get a handle on things a few times so I have a lot to say...unfortunately I have to be quick because I have to get some work done.

For me the first thing is that I don't get many's a good season if I get to draw my bow once or twice. If I actually get a shot it's a great season except that I've missed most of them. It's like training for years to go to the Olympics and they only let you take ONE shot. One shot to make good on all the practice, preparation and pressure there.

Shooting from any of my elevated stands does feel a lot different but just practicing from the stand isn't the whole answer.

Once I had a lone doe come from behind me, pass right under my tripod and slowly walked down the trail angled away. PERFECT. I shot over her back at 17 yards. I felt sick and I knew I'd not getting another chance like that that season.

Well she circled around, passed under my tripod and followed the exact same path again. I took the same shot and missed exactly the same way.

Later I put my 3-d deer exactly where the doe was standing and I shot it until I got tired of climbing up and down to get my arrows. I NEVER missed the kill zone.

During the years when I had the most deer traffic I practiced my shooting so much that it was almost stupid and it didn't change a thing. I shot pretty good as long as I wasn't shooting at a deer. I killed rabbits and squirrels with my bow but I usually couldn't hit a deer.

When I would draw on a deer it felt like the first I ever handled a bow. Nothing felt familiar at all.

In my case it's just a head game. More practice on deer would be the best help but that isn't going to happen. For me it's all in what I'm thinking about when I make the shot. Kind of like what Joel Turner preaches. I have to breath, take my time (that doesn't necessarily mean slow) and force myself to think about making the shot. When I can do that, I kill the deer...well, if there are any around. LOL

I can't (or shouldn't) look at "the spot" until it's time to expand and shoot. Prior to that I'm better off looking at the back of my riser. When I used to shoot rabbits with a shotgun I just looked at the brown blur that I wanted to kill and everything else was automatic. It doesn't work that way for me with a bow.

I have to make sure I get to full draw, alignment/back tension and the sight picture looks like it's supposed to. If I can get that far, it feels familiar again and I can shoot like I shoot on the range.

That was all pretty verbose.

The short version is that for me...when I feel pressured I have to get methodical. 

ā€œ For me it's all in what I'm thinking about when I make the shot.ā€

Truer words were never spoken.  Only I would add, for me (speaking of myself, not you) it's all in what Iā€™m thinking about, feeling, visualizing, or conceptualizing when I make the shot.  In other words, any mental activity that distracts from concentrating on the shot. 

Your problem sounds a lot like target panic, as did mine, but the common methods of dealing with target panic, i.e. taking control of the shot away from the subconscious mind, were not effective for me.

What was effective was realizing that I had a concentration problem, which is a conscious issue, not a subconscious one.  The issue you describe is a distraction from concentrating on the shot, and the purpose of strengthening concentration is to eliminate distractions.  When I redefined the problem, I was finally able to start doing things that helped me to solve it.

Working on taking control away from the subconscious mind was actually counterproductive for me.  I need my subconscious mind to run programs that I have mastered and no longer need my conscious attention.  It was like trying to repair a car with a broken transmission by working on the clutch.

Obviously, judging by the success of many target panic programs, many people do have a subconscious problem, and are working on fixing the part that is broken.  Many others don't.

Larry Dean:
I practice with intensity that makes other people around me uncomfortable. I work on form aspects one thing at a time up close until is automatic. I practice secondary aiming at various ranges until it become informed instinctive. I had a fellow come over to shoot with me last year, bragged about his 12 step shooting. Not all of the steps were of equal time.  I had a Skoal can lid stuck to the target. He drew very slowly, did this and did that and then held his 35 pound bow back, 6 leaves fell out of the tree, a monarch butterfly drifted past, several birds, a nuthatch, a downy wood pecker and three house finches came to my bird feeders, and then he released. He hit the edge of the lid and said, "ha ha top that!!"  I called to my wife, put the lid back on the Skoal can and handed it to her, "Try to get the thing across the target the first time please."  She did, I stuck it. I did not say anything, but then he went on a negative John Schulz rant. I said, "you done? Goodbye." As brought out above, what are you thinking when you shoot, what are you looking at when you shoot? If you cannot look at the target, while going through your step by step protocols, you could have target panic. I know people that shoot with bow sights that use them almost instinctively, they are pretty good game shots. There needs to be a goal of unloading all of the over thinking baggage when hunting. When trying trying to kill an animal, are you still working form? I would say at that point, that you have not done enough close in practice, working on one aspect of form at a time. Ten shots three times a week won't cut it. It takes a lot more work than that.


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