Bad Habits and Getting Help

By Ken Otis

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I started shooting archery when I was in the 6th grade, a Fred Bear recurve and cedar arrows.  It was my pride and joy for many years and during the late summer and fall I would mow yards, rake leaves, pick-up apples or whatever was available to make a little $ for a couple straw-bales for a target.  I never seemed to get much better as the years went by but I moved into the compound bow phase with the Bear White-tail hunter!  As the years past and as I look back, I never got any real instruction or any real guideline as to “how to shoot archery”.  I developed many ‘bad-habits’ starting with stance, shoulder and arm position, anchor position too far back, too much draw weight (as a youngster) and the one that almost ended my enjoyment of archery, TARGET-PANIC.  My brothers were out deer hunting and having success and the stories were incredible.  Time and time again I would miss, and miss, and miss but they couldn’t identify what I was doing wrong.

It was on my first buck kill that I realized I had a serious problem.  The 8-pt buck came in at first light chasing does, at 14yds I was at full draw, complete broadside shot and he was looking away from me!  This is it, the perfect setup.  I released my arrow and struck him a little towards the back so I thought.  He bolted forward and bedded sown 60yds out.  I waited as I was silently celebrating, but then he got up and walked away out of sight.  My heart sunk.  After 30 minutes I got down from my tree stand and followed the minimal blood trail to where he bedded down and then the trickle for another 25yds.  I went home with a plan to return that afternoon and I found him 150yds away in the creek bottom.  My shot placement was horrible!  He was standing at complete broadside and I hit him just forward of the rear leg, cut a main artery/vein and he bled-out internally.  Following this incredible fail I needed help.  I was about to give up totally on archery hunting/shooting as I was not able to make any real progress or find any local instruction.

My good friend Shawn Padgett convinced me to try again and he got me setup with a used bow and quality components (Bowtech General, Scott Release, Carbontech arrows, PDP field points, Trophy Ridge sight, G5 peep, and Bernie Pellerite). I read Bernie’s book, followed the instructions for dispelling all of the myths about archery (I had about every one of them in my head), and I had ‘Target-Panic’!  With my 2 new coaches (Shawn and Bernie) I followed their plan for bow setup, shooting sequence, and blind bail practice.  Within 4 weeks I was on my way to recovery from ‘target panic’ and was able to hit a 6” circle out to 40yds!  In ‘hind-sight’, the answer was simple; get good instruction before you get 20+ years of bad habits!  It is much easier to correct minor flaws in good form than to replace years of bad habits and misguided form – so teach your children and your friends to find a good teacher/coach.  Today I enjoy archery hunting, 3D tournaments, and indoor spot shooting all due to the help of a good friend/coach.

Get Out and Shoot the way Your Coach Told You To!

Ken Otis