Contributors to this thread:
“Moment of Truth” Final Thoughts
I’m curious to know what’s going through your head the final moments before releasing your arrow.
Last week a friend missed a chip shot on a 170” WT. When he called that evening earlier than normal I answered “did you get him”. He was still in shock mode and I couldn’t tell if he was just in a car wreck or missed a giant buck! A case of the Buck Fever for sure.
I’ve found ways to manage to get it done when the shot unfolds. Usually melting down afterwards.
But I’m wondering what you guys do.
Do you have a shot routine?
Grip, Rip, Pray! “Go Down you Bastard!”
Or are you just on auto pilot?
One thing I can say don't do, and that's think about all the texts and pics you are going to send your buddies or post on Bowsite in a few minutes before you've even taken and made the shot. Don't ask me how I know this ;)
Auto pilot....draw, anchor, level, center, pull, follow through.
I talk to myself a lot. Usually telling myself to relax, slow down, take your time. Pull, pull, pull.
Same here, it’s instinctive for me and hopefully all the practice and visualizations of the successful shot are coming together at that moment.
My experience has varied. In about 2000 I started hunting with a recurve. Within two years I became so confident that buck/bull fever sort of went away. Of course, if the encounter takes more than 10 minutes than I'll still get some buck/bull fever, but overall it had completely subsided so that I could make the shot real cool and then get the shakes afterwards.
But, in the last two years I've been shooting a compound again and the buck/bull fever has come right back big time! I'm just not as confident with the compound yet. There are way more steps to the shot process. But, I'm getting there and killed a great buck this week.
I would say that I used to fight back the excitement, which didn't work well. Now I just accept that it's going to happen and that I'm going to make the shot despite the distraction.
It depends on the situation if the shot unfolds super quick autopilot works for me if it’s awhile between when the animal appears to when a shot is presented I have to talk to myself a lot or the arrow / bullet flies right over the animals back every time.
For the last 20yrs I found that using same pre shot routine as at range along with concentrating on a patch of hair on target really helps. Aim small miss small....Can't say my legs don't still shake...ha
I tend to lose my mind with crazy thoughts and panic and nerves when I first see a big buck in the distance. Like a total noob. Ha!
But when it's time for the actual shot, I get into a zone and time seems to slow down. And it's more instinct than step my step or thinking strategy or some mantra.
And then after the shot things go high speed adrenaline crazy with excitement again. 100 to zero then back to 100. Ha! That's why I love it!!
As the shot starts to materialize, I generally mentally check myself to slow down, don't rush, stay off the shoulder, note animal position, pick a spot etc.
But once the actual shot is about to go off, my mind is blank and I just stare a laser into the spot I want to hit. That's where the hours and hours of practice come in handy.
Usually, nothing. Clear and focused.
Once the bow is drawn, it's all about a complete singular focus on the tiny spot I want to hit. Everything else regarding form specifics and shot routine is in auto-pilot.
My mind goes blank after I hit anchor. No different than when I'm standing on a line with 150 other shooters during spot league competition. Total blank out. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good that I am not distracted, but bad due to a lot of times I don't remember any of the entire shot process. A few seconds after the shot I will "come back too" and then the nerves go crazy. This goes for any deer, not just big bucks. Its weird.
I am pretty calm while they are coming in, drawing and aiming. HOWEVER the second the actual shot materializes and I start the release process, my brain seems to snap. I have a nasty "peek" habit I have to fight by just AIM AIM AIM
Nd stringpuller- there is no such thing as a chip shot. You’re buddy proved that again. The few times in my life I’ve decided to launch an arrow everything was complete autopilot.
I ain't gonna lie, lately I think I'm worse than ever. My heart gets going unreal! I think I've had a lot of anxiety lately because I have a very painful bow shoulder and can't hold my bow at full draw as long, so I've been rushing my shots. Last year went better, so hoping I'm getting over it. But I think some of you guys are correct, I need to talk my way through the sequence/process to slow myself down a bit.
Decide when to draw, figure yardage, pick appropriate pin, aim, release. Most of it is relatively unrelated to conscious thought though. Not a lot of talking/thinking my way through the process. It just kinda happens. Then my legs start to shake.
If I try and think back to those moments I'm not sure I can remember a single one lol. Must be a sort of autopilot. Animal walks in, brain switches over and the rest I'm at the mercy of whatever happens lol.
I’m with Elkstabber. Confidence - and that’s HONEST CONFIDENCE in your shooting, rather than cockiness about what’s on your equipment list - is a great asset. Losing your stuff because you think you’re going to blow your chance is deadly. And NOT for the animal you’re shooting at. At least not in a good way.
I just lock onto my spot before I draw the bow and put my trust in the tens of thousands of shots worth of training I’ve put in over my lifetime.
When you get to where you always know whether you’ve hit or missed the target before you’re fully aware that the arrow or bullet is on its way, then all you have to do is stay focused and get out of your own way.
I shoot a lot of 3d's and the last thought is yardage, like thinking 28yds, 28 yds... helps me with sight alignment. Scott
Trying to maintain my sole focus on the spot I want the arrow to enter. I shoot instinctive/ tab...so sometimes the release just "happens". Strangely, those shots are usually my best shots.
That being said, my "Mantra" lately has been "Smooth as possible" (which incorporates both release, and follow through).
I usually dont even remember drawing.
My focus is on 3 things -
1- where the shot will take place [shooting lane]
2- placing the pin on the spot
3- watching the arrow to the target
90% of screw ups can be averted by slowing down. How many screw ups have you had where you said “ crap, if I had only rushed it more I would have killed that thing “
About half the time I’m on autopilot, and the other half I come to pieces (usually when a shot takes a while to develop and is not guaranteed to happen)
When that happens, I tell myself to breathe. And I continually tell myself “Calm down. You’ve done this before. Breathe.” In a loop. If I have time, that will calm me down and put me on autopilot mode
I’ve only come completely apart with no ability to think rationally, and that was on a monster 370+ bull elk. That of course, I missed
As others have stated it's somewhat of an autopilot situation. As soon as i ID a shooter or confirm i will take a shot i never look at the rack again; when i look back at some of my favorite buck harvests i have trouble remembering what the buck looked like coming in (not where he was or the route he took but what he looked like) and i think it's because i focus on the shot, muscle memory, etc.
I have to regulate and slow my breathing to stay calm, then go through my shot routine which is on autopilot. My last thoughts are always pick a spot and concentrate on it.....then I go completely blank and very rarely am I able to recall the second the shot goes off. It is weird but I rarely remember the spot I was holding, it’s almost like my mind shuts off for an instant. I’ll remember the arrow flying and seeing it hit or miss....anyone experience that before?
I get laser focused and coach myself through what I am doing. I usually repeat over and over to myself to settle my pin. Don't rush...…. A lot of it depends on the animal I'm hunting as well. A bear over bait, or a doe at 20 yards, is so much easier to stay calm on and settle my pin than an elk. Elk are so big and I work so hard to get close to them, they seem to make a person unravel more than other animals. I really concentrate on picking my pin, and not just shooting. John Dudley had a great talk about this on a podcast I listened to. He said something along the lines of a guy just wants to get the shot off so bad sometimes that he rushes it and blows the whole thing.
I remember one shot specifically that was on a super nice animal I had been playing chess with over a couple days. He had finally put himself in a sweet spot for a stalk and I had crawled to within bow range. I drew and came up out of cover on my knees. I knew this was that special animal and my the left side of my brain was screaming at me "Shoot! He's going to blow!" I also immediately noticed that his head was down, and he was feeding so he had never seen me raise up. The right side of my brain was calmly saying "Take your time. Head's down, don't rush, make it count" Thankfully the right side of my brain won the argument and I took that extra second to really bury my pin and squeeze. Made a perfect shot and watched him tip after a 120 yard death sprint! Amazing how one or two seconds can make all the difference.
The hard part is deciding if I`m going to take the animal or not....if I do it just happens. Luckily I don`t suffer from buck fever....only on Mule Deer....I have no idea why.
I tend to keep telling myself something will go wrong and I won't get the shot. Even when I get to full draw, until the pin gets settled, I don't convince myself it will happen. Once the pin is settled I flip over to "time to kill this critter". I used to get the fever really, really bad so this has worked for me. After the shot, I tend to come unglued a bit.
Auto pilot for me. It usually doesn't hit me until the animal either runs off and/or it drops within sight. THEN it hits!
I say to myself "stay calm, pick a spot, pick a spot, pick a spot....... forces me to focus. I struggled mightily with buck fever before I went to that. Since then I've been a stone cold killer. After the arrow leaves though, I'm a mess for a few minutes! Not going to apologize for it either. If that rush goes away, I'll hang it up.
Wow thanks for all the responses! What has been working for me is picking my spot but just letting he pin settle with my subconscious. And just totally focusing on my release. My final thought is “pinch”. I’m using a thumb trigger with the barrel set deep . And I’m actually “pinching” my thumb and Index finger together to make a semi surprise release. It gives my mind a task instead of smashing the trigger to get this arrow on the way! I’ve fought the TP for years before I even knew what it really was. It is currently in remission, but like Justin said it’s easy to relapse and just hammer that trigger! The difference between a great shot and a bad miss is really all in the release and follow through. It’s just tuff to do when that buck comes in hot or that bull bugles in your face at 20 yards!
When I mouth bleat and he stops, I know I typically have 15 seconds or more to pull off the shot, no reason to hurry. I simply tell my self that "I'm gonna kill this deer". Positive thinking.
I visualize an animal while practicing. Make every shot seem like it has consequences. Often for extra pressure, I practice with a small target and prop it up where an error will cost me an arrow (rocks). This way when it’s go time...for real, the mechanics and mindset are business as usual.
Black out. Wake up. Punch tag (s).
pick a spot BEFORE you bring up the bow and look through the peep and at the pin. NOT when you have the bow up and try to pick the spot through the peep and then line up the pin.
Easy to say-- when I missed-shot a buck at 20 ft with the recurve bow last week.
I agree with Paul. Pick the spot, beforehand and stare a hole thru it. Draw to that spot and when it all lines up, let er rip!
I used to to just line up the peep and the pins and let ‘er rip on the sweet spot, not needing any pep talk or last second thinking. Now, I’m hoping I can even hold the damn bow up long enough to do all that. Getting old sucks !
by now in my hunting career, much of what I do comes naturally and I'm so ingrained and focused on a spot, and even though I am on auto pilot and once I draw and hold, I guess I do kinda know when I'm releasing ... I focus on a spot and will try to hold high or low of that depending on distance since I use a single adjustable pin, which I leave at 25 yds .... once I am setting the release off there in no turning back and getting the arrow back .... this was proven this past Friday when I shot a big 8 pt, and he turned going from broadside to facing me at a scrape in a milli second as I released .... ( the "Well, I'm done" thread ) ... while the out come was great, I wasnt happy with the shot/hit and it WAS super deadly, but at the point of release, what he did was beyond my control ..
btw, if this can happen at 30 yds, imagine what a deer can do at 90-100 yds .... just sayin' ..
I have found that taking deep breaths really helps
As the animal is coming in on you, stop looking at anything except the heart and lungs. The animal might quarter towards a little or away, might go behind a thicket, doesn't matter. Just burn a hole in the vitals and visualize the arrow going there and only there. When those moment happen we tend to look at antlers, eyes, look out for other deer or shooting lane obstacles, etc.
There's a name for that, it's called stimulus confusion. We've all experienced it. When you go to a 3d shoot and they put a small target in front of a big rock or there's that one small tree real close to the shooting lane. Our eyes and our minds are so focused on the obstacle that even when we try to focus on the target the obstacle often overtakes our concentration. Classic stimulus confusion. Guess where the arrow goes...
Look at the vitals EXCLUSIVELY. However the animal's position might change you're focused on visualizing where the boiler room is. Where you focus is where the shot goes. The moment of truth is too late for mental gymnastics. Good Luck everyone.
It took me a while to really figure it out but I finally learned your shot must have 2 pieces. Aiming and then moving on to shot activation. Same as top competitors. Now 225+ deer and a pile of other critters I’m sure of it. I go through my shot process. Just like it was any other target. Check off form, acquire aim, then focus solely on back tension to break the shot.
I tell myself, "Head down, pick a spot, keep shooting". Keep shooting part it to keep the pin on the spot after I hit the release.
Kevin Dill's Link
When I’m right in the head, I don’t really recall what goes through it. When I’m not confident, I keep telling myself not to screw it up. It rarely works out well when I do that.
Preparation is all mental confidence.
I typically think of a song and use music to prepare for the exact moment....
Complete shot sequence...than start thinking damn it's a long way to the truck.
I have a sticker on my bow that says "Pick A Spot". I always glance at it before I draw. I than always think you are dead as I release. Shawn
Just focused on where I want the arrow to go and waiting for the near leg to go forward.
All I’m thinking is exactly where I want the arrow to hit... everything else takes care of itself...
It's better if they come in fast, less time to think about it and get worked up. Even a doe can get me shaking if she really takes her time and I intend to shoot. For bucks I avoid looking at the antlers once I decide I want to shoot, just focus on minimal movement, pick the shooting lane, when to draw, where on the body to aim.
I just focus on remaining as motionless as possible and being ready to shoot without much movement at all. This means having your arms up and ready, which can lead to arm fatigue depending on how long you have to wait. Shooting recurve, draw and hold is less of an option unless you know they are going to present a shoot pretty quickly. I have stood motionless with bow arms up for up to 15 minutes waiting out a 6 pt bull staring at me from 25 yds once, I thought I was going to drop the bow. Finally the bull turned and went, I rushed up to an he was headed for, got him broadside at 20 yds, released, and the arrow deflected off the only (unseen) twig in the way and went an inch over his back. That was a tough pill to swallow after that wait.
I go into a sort of meditation and am on autopilot. No words talking in my head till I release and often time end it with saying "dead" or "you're dead" in my mind. Seems dumb, but it just happens.
If I have thoughts racing through my head, I usually screw it up. I've missed a few shots the past couple years on multiple sheep and each time I was talking myself through the process and missed completely.
I'm headed to Nebraska in a couple days and after a bloodless 2019 thus far, I'm going to kill like 40 deer to get it back.
I have a very simple form mantra, but beyond that you better be thinking of using your mantra a lot during your sit or BEFORE the moment of truth comes. . .many guys wimp out at the moment of truth with weak minds and/or go brain dead. Any mantra should be very simple, not something like a 10 step Olympic archery type of mantra.
to me killing is in the head,,, for some reason, I just draw and shoot, just natural,,, however, when the hit is good, if I am in a tree, I usually do not remember how I got down,,, ha ha....................
no matter what I hunt, I do not film, have no phone etc,,,, I am their to hunt, its that simple
No thoughts. Quiet my brain, focus on the single spot on the target, release and wait for the "twack" before moving a muscle.
Let em come in, pick a spot, Release follow through.
Draw, float pin, release. No thinking.