PODCAST: Joel Turner & Tom Clum Sr., Traditional Archery Coaching and Curing Target Panic

What do 2016 Olympic bronze-medal-winning archer Brady Ellison and traditional archer Tom Clum Sr. have in common?

They both shoot their bows according to the techniques taught by Kisik Lee – head coach of the U.S. National Archery Team. Ellison, of course, shoots a fully-rigged Olympic recurve bow, while Clum shoots a traditional, barebow recurve.

A certified, USA Archery Level 3 coach, Clum takes the shooting process taught at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and delivers it to traditional archers across the country. Frequently, he teams up with fellow traditional archer Joel Turner, who specializes in teaching mental control of the shot process. Specifically, Turner focuses on how to beat target panic.

Together, they coach the body and the mind – the primary drivers of the archery shot process. That’s pretty standard for coaching target archery, regardless of whether it’s with a compound or a recurve bow.

But it’s basically unheard of in traditional archery, which is what makes the instructional programs these two put on so unique.

We caught up with Turner and Clum in July 2017 at the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in northcentral Pennsylvania, where they spent several days teaching groups and coaching individuals.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How the shooting form taught to Olympic recurve archers applies to traditional archery and bowhunting.
  • Why archers get target panic.
  • How to beat target panic.
  • Why proper body alignment is important no matter what kind of bow you shoot.
  • What it was like for a shy, small-town guy like Clum to find himself among 6,000 traditional archers.
  • How Turner shoots a bow with a right-handed grip, but a left-handed shelf.

“What I found was, holy mackerel, we can put our shot into biomechanics that we can take under a bush with us. We can use (a recurve bow) the exact same way as an Olympic archer does, but under a bush.”

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Using release aids to cure target panic

Can certain mechanical releases help compound archers squash target panic?

It worked for me. When target panic nearly ruined archery for me in early 2016, a mechanical release turned everything around and made the game fun again.

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It’s been suggested that most archers will come down with target panic at some point during their shooting careers. The reasons why it happens vary from person to person. Same goes for its severity. The path to beating target panic has been fairly well charted through the years, although there is no quantifiable recovery time and there’s no guarantee it won’t return.

Since anticipation and the resulting anxiety are classic calling cards of target panic, one of the best ways to kill both is to be surprised when the string is released at full draw. To do that, you generally need to remove a traditional trigger.

The Stan PerfeX Resistance, Stan Element and Carter Evolution are three resistance-activated releases. They have no trigger, nor do they operate on a hinge. They fire as the result of an increase in tension between the release jaw and the bowstring.

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Stan PerfeX Resistance

These releases feature a safety that is depressed during the draw cycle. At full draw, you release the safety, and the release’s tension should be set heavy enough to hold the string. At this point, you start squeezing your shoulder blades toward one another, which causes you to pull straight back on the release. That’s increasing the tension on the string, and eventually, the release fires. You can adjust the release tension so that it fires with only a slight increase in resistance or with a lot.

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Stan Element

However the release is set, shots are always a surprise because there is no trigger. You can’t punch this release like a thumb button or index finger release, nor can you roll through it like a hinge. That’s why it’s favored for curing target panic. Only a steady pull – what you want to do with any release – will set it off.

Carter Evolution

Even after you’ve been using one of these releases for a while, shots still come as a surprise, because any slight changes in the pressure you put on the bow pushing forward, or on the string pulling backward at full draw, affect the release. It’s difficult to anticipate exactly when it will go off. That’s sure to help lower your anxiety.

These releases are not just tools for curing target panic. Many archers use them as their primary releases. Or, they’ll keep a resistance-activated release for training sessions when they feel like they’re anticipating shots using their normal release.

I used a Stan Element for several months after I came down with my case of target panic in 2016. I credit it for helping to ease my anxiety and for eliminating my shot anticipation. Eventually, I was able to use a hinge, thumb button or index finger release without anxiety and without punching the trigger.