Shoot your bow in these situations to simulate high-pressure shots so you can keep your cool when it counts. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United

Practicing Under Pressure: 5 Ways to Test Your Skills

  Cassie Gasaway   FeaturedLifestyle   April 20, 2023

The buck you’re after walks within sight. Immediately, your cool, calm demeanor vanishes, and you lose it. Your heart starts racing and your breath becomes labored; your legs and arms begin to shake. How can you make a perfect shot when your body turns against you?

Practice. Although you can’t perfectly simulate how you’ll feel “in the moment,” you can practice shooting in intense, high-pressure situations to better cope with the excitement and adrenaline you’ll experience during real-world encounters.

Jeff Greer, owner of Music City Archery in Franklin, Tennessee, said, “To execute at peak performance, an archer must create challenging situations, push the boundaries of perceived limits and strive to perform beyond expectation even when no one else believes they can succeed.”

Greer said everyone processes pressure differently, so no magic tip works across the board. But all top-performing archers and bowhunters have one thing in common: They’re confident.


Practice in real conditions, with other people. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United


“Successfully executing the high-pressure shot is more about confidence than anything else,” he said. “The archer must practice the art of humble self-confidence and believe they have the skills, training and determination to be successful regardless of the situation.”

Try the following strategies to increase your confidence and learn to cope with your mental and physical reactions during high-pressure situations.

1. Think About Something Scary

Braden Cytlak, owner of Somerset Outdoors in Jerome, Michigan, says you need to elevate your heart rate if you’re at home without much going on. When he practices, he tries to imagine a scary situation that will get his blood pumping, “almost like in a horror movie,” he said. Think about monsters, dinosaurs, shooting at a charging grizzly, scaling the side of a building, or something else that gives you that sense of shock and panic.

2. Shoot with People Around You

You can also try shooting around other people; that’s Greer’s No. 1 tip. Practicing with peers, he said, increases the pressure to perform. You’ll also have more distractions to overcome, which teaches you to focus. Head to your local range for a change of pace, scenery and environment.

3. Join a League

When the rush from shooting casually around people wears off, join a league and shoot for a score. Keeping track of your performance, especially compared with competitors, adds excitement and peer pressure. Some leagues have qualification rounds and others have head-to-head challenges that put you in the spotlight.

4. Shoot in Tournaments


Compete in tournaments at your local range to shoot under pressure. Photo Credit: Music City Archery


Challenge yourself further by signing up for tournaments with varying target shapes and distances. Most tournaments attract many competitors, which increases stress and the pressure to perform, meaning you’ll have to work harder to maintain the focus and composure necessary to make good shots over and over again.

5. Do Shooting Drills and Exercises

Get out of your comfort zone and test your skills with drills and exercises you can do alone or with friends. Search online to find archery drills, games and shooting activities. Greer recommends trying the “Shot of Faith,” which has advancement opportunities for those at different skill levels. Ensure you have a large backstop and a spotter who can ensure the range is clear as you complete this drill. Here’s how it works.

  • Level 1: Standing a few yards from the target, draw your bow, aim at the target and close your eyes for three to five seconds. Then, open your eyes, reacquire the target and take the shot. Advance to Level 2 once you’re still on target when you open your eyes after five seconds.
  • Level 2: Draw your bow, aim at the target and close your eyes for three to five seconds while imagining the arrow hitting the target’s center. After the time is up, take the shot with your eyes closed. Advance to Level 3 when you can group near the target’s center with your eyes closed.
  • Level 3: Look at the target when you’re in the set position (positioned toward the target with your bow down). Then, close your eyes, draw your bow and imagine acquiring the target. Once you feel you’re aiming at the target’s center, open your eyes. Reacquire the target if you’re off and take the shot. Advance to Level 4 when you don’t have to reacquire the target.
  • Level 4: Look at the target when you’re in the set position, close your eyes, draw your bow and imagine acquiring the target. Once you feel you have acquired the target, take the shot.

Once you complete Level 4, move back a few more yards and start over.

As you participate in each of these situations, you’ll hone your emotions and reactions to intense, high-pressure situations. Being intentional and creating more realistic shooting experiences will make you a better, more prepared archer who can perform flawlessly under pressure.




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