Bullseye Mind: How Mental Training Can Overcome Archery Target Panic

Master Your Skills, Accuracy & Performance

Archers have found there is a way of simultaneously improving all areas of performance, while overcoming recurring barriers such as target panic.

With most archers I have worked with over the past two decades, the solution was always at the very control center of your physical performance, your subconscious.

So if you experience any of these..

  • target panic
  • anxiety of holding in the middle, or
  • shooting poorly under pressure ..

Mental training is the key - even if just overall improvement is your goal, rather than specific areas.

Better still - you customize it to suit your own personal, exact situation and needs.

As much as people try - issues such as target panic, which is an involuntary action (much like "the yips" in golf) and often called a form of self-sabotage - lie outside of your conscious control, and cannot be overcome with sheer practice and determination.

These involuntary actions may include locking up below the middle of the bullseye, not being able to bring the sight to the middle, or being unable to do so without shooting prematurely.

This is a type of inner anxiety which can often sabotage performance through involuntary muscle contraction - which inhibits their level of control when getting the sight to the bullseye, before releasing.

But let's look at the full picture. Being a term that describes the uncontrolled or premature release of an arrow, there are several factors that can contribute to developing this issue - including psychological, physical, and technical factors. And luckily, the mind can take care of them all.

Common Causes of Target Panic


The primary psychological cause - which can occur from a variety of different factors, including fear of failure, performance pressure, or lack of confidence.

When you experience anxiety, your heart rate and breathing patterns change, making it difficult to maintain a steady aim, and this can develop the habit of releasing the arrow early to relieve the tension.

Focus Issues

Another psychological factor can be a lack of focus or concentration due to distractions from either internal factors, such as negative thoughts or emotions - or external factors, such as noise or movement.


Physical factors such as fatigue can also occur - as when you become tired, your muscles may begin to tremble, and often causing early release to avoid the discomfort.

Form / Equipment

Technical factors, such as poor form or incorrect equipment, can also contribute at times - as if your form is incorrect, maintaining steady aim becomes increasingly difficult - while if your equipment is not properly calibrated or adjusted, it affects consistency and accuracy. Both of these can also be attributed to target panic.

Mental training is extremely effective with all these issues, as it allows you to work directly at your the 'control panel' of movement, and your archery.

 This is particularly the case as additional practice, motivation and determination have no effect upon the anxiety side of this particular issue with performance.

Target panic affects most archers at some level, and operates much like a computer program, running in the background as you are shooting - and creating these unintended and involuntary reactions which hinder performance.

  Keys to Success

Anxiety cannot be overcome or changed through lessons, pep talks, motivation, determination, extra practice, watching instructional videos, etc - as involuntary reactions can only be changed at the source (ie. the 'subconscious' level).

This is the exact place that mental training targets - and why it works.

For this reason, as mentioned before - target panic is often compared to the 'yips' in golf, being a similar type of involuntary response, which cannot be controlled or overcome through conscious means.

Hypnosis allows archers to more easily relax and bring their sight to the middle of the target - and calmly hold it there without anxiety, while executing their shot.

It can also re-program the mental software running within the subconscious (including 'muscle memory') - which allows you to easily hold the bow steady, effortlessly hold in the middle, and see the target with eagle vision.

This occurs when your archery performance flows directly from the subconscious, instinctively on auto-pilot.

Mind Training Benefits

Advantages / Uses

• Overcoming and re-programming target panic (and other self-sabotage) at the very source

• Pre-program your shot sequence using visualisation to reinforce successful technique

• Remaining cool while executing your shot

Hypnotic suggestion to reinforce your ability to hold the bow steady, and hold in the middle while executing the shot

Increasing inner belief and self confidence

Handling self doubts and negative self talk that arise before and during tournaments

Deeper concentration, ignoring distractions

Competing more often at the peak of your powers

Hypnosis has shown to work effectively for these particular issues, though you can also try some hypnotic techniques yourself - such as mental imagery.

This is where you mentally imagine your strongest performances when in a relaxed state - often used best at night or when you first awaken, so you are in the most receptive frame of mind to program your inner computer.

This would need to be done on a regular basis to make an impression at the deeper level of mind, which can influence performance - otherwise you may be better seeking out some guidance, in the form of either audio recordings (which we do, as well as customized versions) or seeing a hypnotherapist or sports psychologist.

Champions Use the Power of the Mind

• Brady Ellison - the American champion who has won numerous medals in his career, and uses various mind techniques.

• Ki Bo Bae - the South Korean champion who has won multiple gold medals at the Olympic Games and uses visualisation and meditation techniques.

• Deepika Kumari - the Indian champion who has won numerous medals in her career, and uses visualization techniques to help her stay focused and overcome nerves during competition.

• Chang Hye-jin - the South Korean champion who has won multiple gold medals at the Olympic Games. She has credited her mental strength and focus with helping her win competitions, and she uses visualization and relaxation techniques to help her stay calm and focused during competition.

• Im Dong-hyun - the South Korean champion who has won multiple gold medals at the Olympic Games, and credited his mental preparation and focus with helping him achieve success.

Just like your physical performance - the more you work at the mental side, the better you become - and the stronger your results.

See below for more information - and my mind-training audio products addressing this specific issue.



Of course, there are also the slower and longer-term methods, such as working on:

Physical form - better stance, grip, anchor point, and release mechanics

Consistency - by practicing with a consistent routine and focusing on repeatability

Strength and muscle endurance - by working on upper body and back muscles through weightlifting and conditioning exercises

Accuracy - by practicing at different distances and focusing on aiming and shot placement

Your release - working on finger strength, trigger control, and proper release timing

Your follow-through - by practicing proper form and focusing on maintaining a steady hold on the bow

Equipment knowledge - by familiarizing yourself with different types of bows, arrows, and accessories and how they can affect your shooting

Understanding of wind and weather conditions - and how they can affect your shooting

Knowledge of ballistics - by studying the flight of the arrow and how different factors affect its trajectory

Trajectory - and how to adjust your aim for uphill and downhill shots

Shot execution - and how different factors, such as arrow spine, can affect your shooting

Shooting under pressure - by practicing in competitive situations

Aiming point selection - by practicing with different aiming points and shot execution

Developing a pre-shot routine

Flexibility and range of motion - through stretching and yoga

Reaction time - practicing drills that focus on quick decision making

Physical endurance - through cardiovascular and strength training

Overall athleticism - by participating in other sports or activities

Equipment maintenance - by keeping your bow and accessories in good working condition and making sure they are properly tuned

But certainly the faster ways to see improvement are through the subconscious methods.