I used to suffer from target panic pretty bad, and it still rears its ugly head now and then. It took me a while to work through it using a wrist release, but is there a better archery release for this?
What’s the best archery release for target panic? The best archery release aid to use for curing target panic is a hinge release, also known as a back tension release. This is because it’s nearly impossible to anticipate the shot as there is no trigger or button to push. Instead the release uses rotation to break the shot.
While the hinge release isn’t the only release you can use to cure your target panic, it’s probably the best choice. Keep reading to learn more about your release aid options.
You can also head over and check out my Recommended Releases
Hinge Releases Help Cure Target Panic
Target panic snuck up on me years ago. I didn’t even know I had it at first until somebody had pointed out that I seemed to be punching the trigger on my release.
I paid more attention during my shot but couldn’t help but slam that release as soon as my pin was over the bullseye. It took me years to get it under control, and I wish I had known about the hinge release back then.
If you’ve never shot a hinge (or back tension) release before, it’s definitely a different experience. It takes a little practice to get used to but it can really help with your shot execution. You can read more about how they work in this post I wrote.
When you shoot a bow with a trigger release or even a thumb release, you can control the shot completely. What I mean is, you can punch that trigger anytime you want and break the shot, releasing the arrow.
The down fall of this is that you anticipate the shot and then punch the trigger. The result is larger groups. Sure, you might hit exactly where you were aiming on occasion but consistency is so much harder when you suffer from target panic.
How Does a Hinge Release Help?
Enter the hinge release aid. There’s no trigger or button for you to smash, it forces you to settle down and focus on execution.
This type of release is fired through rotation. That’s back to front rotation, not side to side (which is what I thought when I first heard about this).
A hinge release is drawn using primarily your index finger and thumb. If you’ve heard the horror stories or seen videos of people punching themselves in the face, it’s because they failed to execute this part properly.
I highly recommend you PRACTICE WITH A STRING BOW to prevent smashing yourself in the mouth.
Once at full draw and as you settle into the target you can begin your shot execution by rotating the release. You want to keep good tension in your back (hence the nickname – back tension release).
As you relax your hand it will start to rotate naturally if you’re keeping tension as if your pulling your elbow straight back. Once the hinge part of the release rotates enough it will break and release the string, firing the arrow.
Properly executed, this will be a total surprise. In fact, I recommend you use a bow wrist sling so that you don’t drop your bow. Now this might sound like a bad thing at first, but it’s actually the best thing that can happen.
Also, note that you can force a hinge release if you want to, but it’s not as intuitive as a trigger or thumb release. Most people don’t have any issues “punching” or forcing a hinge to get the shot off.
How To Use Other Releases and Still Cure Target Panic
Now that we’ve decided a hinge release is the best type of release to use when trying to get your target panic under control, let’s talk about some other options.
You don’t HAVE to use a hinge to cure target panic. You could use a trigger wrist strap release or a handheld thumb release also.
It’s all about how you use the release. Most people learned to use a release on their own or without much instruction and that can be part of the problem. Many archers tend to squeeze the trigger by wrapping their finger around it and pulling with their finger.
This sets you up for failure because it allows you to anticipate the shot and punch the trigger.
But there’s another way!
Using Back Tension with any Release
You’ve heard hinge releases referred to as back tension releases and this is because of how you use your upper back muscles to pull through the shot. In this case it causes the hinge to rotate and fire the arrow.
Well what if I told you that you could do the same thing with a trigger or thumb release?
The first thing you should do is make sure you have a release where the trigger or thumb mechanism is firm without any travel. Having travel (a loose trigger) is a big contributor in developing target panic.
So with a quality release without travel, you’ll now want to set the trigger pretty heavy. This is referred to as a cold trigger. A hot trigger goes off very easy, aka – hair trigger. Setting a cold trigger is also a key component in executing this type of pull through shot properly.
Now for the actual execution. You will draw your bow normally until at full draw and settle in. Hook around the trigger like normal with your index finger (or thumb if using a thumb release). DO NOT pull the trigger.
Concentrate on floating your pin over the bullseye. I say float, because there will be a natural movement, this is normal. Instead of pulling the trigger you will keep tension in your upper back muscles and squeeze them pulling through the shot. Pretend there’s something a few inches behind your elbow and you’re trying to touch your elbow to it.
Executed properly, this will result in an unanticipated shot.
Here’s a great video to show you exactly how this works.
Let’s recap what to do:
- Use a release with no travel and is adjustable
- Set the trigger heavy (cold)
- Draw your bow
- Aim at your target and let the pin float
- Wrap around the trigger, but don’t pull it
- Squeeze your back muscles (back tension)
- Pull through the shot using your back muscles
What is Target Panic Anyway?
Target panic can manifest itself in different ways for different people. There’s always one similarity though and that’s a rushed shot due to anticipation and/or anxiety.
Maybe you’re not sure you have target panic, or maybe a friend told you that you did. Well let me tell you a little about my run in with target panic, maybe you’re experiencing the same thing.
For me, I realized that I was rushing my shots after someone pointed out that I was dropping my bow arm too early. I’d punch the trigger and drop my arm almost simultaneously. This was when I was introduced to the term “Target Panic”.
Mine got alot worse before it got better. Amazingly I was still winning 3D shoots and had OK groups, imagine how I would have done without the target panic. I found that I’d start the pin high on my target, lower the pin and as soon as it hit the bullseye I’d punch the trigger and drop my arm.
I had it bad, some people only have some of these problems – punching the trigger, dropping your arm, etc. But it’s all about anticipating the shot, that’s why a hinge release is so good at curing your target panic over time. It removes the anticipation.
I partially blame my PSE Brute Force compound bow, it was a good shooting bow with good speed but it went off in your hand like a grenade. It wasn’t until I started shooting a quieter bow with little vibration that I could start getting my shot under control.
So get out there and put your release to work for you, you can beat target panic!