Perceived pressure & bowhunting doesn’t get talked about enough. The difference between practice and the moment of truth while hunting is perception - we perceive the shot opportunity as being different than what we’ve practiced hundreds of times before.
Bottom line, perceived pressure adds stress to situation which can limit your ability to perform at your highest level. As far as I can tell, many of us need more reps in this environment. Pictured here is an ElkShape Camper shooting their bow in front of me and the rest of the camp after just meeting moments prior. Most campers get really nervous and stressed, you can tell there’s increased anxiety and they just want to get rid of that arrow. We all can use more reps in this mock stressful environment. Here’s a few ideas on mitigating stress in the moment of truth:
(1) Hope is not a strategy - Pressure is just a distraction that comes and goes as it is perceived. Maybe try a focus cue that gets your attention back to the shot process and checklist that keeps you present. Like my buddy Joel Turner preaches, avoid going into autopilot.
(2) Unlimited reps of visualization - create the exact scenario in your mind using all your senses with great detail. Picture yourself executing exactly as you would like free of making mistakes. Use your 5 senses to depict the specific sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch. Train your mind to perceive anxiety as a performance booster.
(3)Be Present and don’t allow your mind to wander. The present moment is the only moment you can control now. Performing mindfully helps you maximize the process that will lead you to the results you want to achieve.
(4) Mock Pressure Scenarios - Next time you’re at the range, walk up to a stranger and tell them to come watch you shoot a bullseye. Make a friendly wager with your buddies at the next indoor league night. Go to @totalarcherychallenge this summer and put some money on the line with your homies. Come to an ElkShape Camp and shoot the 11 ring on a 3D Elk target with all of us watching
If you struggle with anxiety, target panic or crumbling in the moment of truth - there is no better resource then this, check it out!