• Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

Eric Morken: Two tips for executing a shot under pressure this archery season – Alexandria Echo Press

ByMary M. Ward

Aug 19, 2022

ALEXANDRIA — It was a beautiful Minnesota night in late July and I was doing what I almost always do to end the day during the summer by getting a few shots with my bow in the backyard.

These were ideal shooting conditions with no wind. Why did I feel a little uncomfortable with my shooting?

I lowered my bow and surveyed things. Taking a second to think is key to getting back on track quickly as an archer.

When I went through the worst of my target panic about four years ago, it stemmed from a combination of things. Bad form, not really understanding my gear and how to build a forgiving setup, then just trying to work my way through it with more reps.

I used to lower my bow, leave frustrated and come back half an hour later to shoot another 20 arrows with no plan to improve. All I was doing was increasing my target’s panic by reinforcing bad habits with each shot.

It took me hitting rock bottom for me to step back and say, “I have to figure this out or hang up the bow.” That moment came when I failed on a chip shot on a doe on New Years Eve in Minnesota on the last day of the season in 2019.

I wrote last year about some of the gear changes I made to really give me the most forgiving setup. It ranged from switching builds to getting an arc that actually worked for me to dialing in a front and rear stabilizer length and weight that worked.

These are all things I trained with for months before the season. We’re now at the point where it might be too late to make any major gear changes for 2022.

With that in mind, I wanted to share two things with my shooting process that have helped me more than anything to get a controlled shot when hunting. I am certainly not perfect. You have to execute these steps on every shot, but I know how beneficial it has been for me in hunting situations when I take these steps.

Maybe they can help you too.

What I quickly realized when my shot was turned off that night in late July was that I had lost my good grip. I know better, but it’s human nature to just go through the motions of shooting. I fall into this trap, even though I know I have to shoot with a goal.

Proper grip is the #1 thing to focus on in terms of form in a hunting situation because it’s something we can execute every time. It is the root from which all planes exist.

My grip is the first place I look to when things aren’t going well. My natural tendency through years of bad practice was to bend my wrist forward at full draw. This means that the pressure on the handle of my bow would rest on the upper part of my thumb muscle. It’s an unstable platform to begin with.

Look at your hand and see where this crease forms a semicircle. I want that pressure where my hand feels the grip of my arch to be evenly distributed up and down over the thumb muscle parallel to that crease.

Before I even draw my bow back, I’m like, ‘Adjust your grip.’ From there, I focus on positioning my hand so that I can feel that grip evenly up and down on that thumb muscle. The key then is to maintain that when I’m at anchor and not lean that wrist forward.

A good grip will do two important things. First, it tightens the pin float because the arc starts from a more stable position. It’s amazing how much I notice this when done correctly. It’s obviously good for the shot itself, and it does wonders to reassure me.

Second, maintaining that good grip will push my bow arm towards the target the instant the arrow breaks. Having a tight grip will result in torque and shots hitting left or right.

My issue was that this wrist was tilting forward and my wrist and bow arm were dropping instantly. Add to that the target’s panic and the way I was anticipating that shot, and it was a recipe for disaster. Every miss I had was weak.

There are great resources out there with guys like

John Dudley

review exactly what a good grip should look like. I encourage you to take it seriously and really focus on it. I felt firsthand how important this is.

Self-talk isn’t stupid, it’s effective

Using self-talk to stay calm during a long encounter with this male from North Dakota during the rut in 2020 was a key part of getting a good shot when the opportunity finally presented itself.

Photo added by Tyler Notch

Focusing on my grip on each shot allows me to tackle my next tip. Talking to myself.

The first thing I say in my head before I’m about to back down on an animal is, ‘Set your grip’. Even before that, I talk to myself the second I see a doe or a buck. I practice this on deer that I don’t even intend to shoot. ‘Calm down, pick the spot.’ Again and again.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, most misses or bad shots on an animal come from the mental shift into autopilot where we don’t even remember the steps we took to send that arrow. Self-talk has the power to keep you present and performing as you know it.

Talking to each other through the shooting process is something more and more public hunting figures are talking about openly. Joel Turner from

shooting IQ

has a lot to do with it. It’s a great resource to learn more about it.

I shot four deer last year. One was a hit that killed the deer quickly but it wasn’t a hit I was proud of. I let a hectic situation speed up my shooting process. The other three were controlled shots where I put the arrow exactly where I wanted because I was talking to myself.

Again, this needs to be done every time. It’s not always easy in hunting situations, but it’s certainly effective if you commit to it.