You blow a chip shot on a buck, or your 30-yard groups couldn’t fit on a paper plate. Do you blame the blunder on a branch? Faulty equipment?

Check your rig and accessories for any loose components or adjustments that may have shifted in the field. Take it to a pro shop to have an expert evaluate your bow for any problems.

But if these supposed flukes or equipment errors keep happening despite a dialed-in setup, it’s probably time to look at the only other common denominator — you.

Maybe you’ve been slacking off on practice. Maybe you’re suffering from target panic. Or maybe buck fever is just getting the best of you.

No matter the reason, own up to your mistakes and work hard to be a better archer or bowhunter. The stakes might not be quite as high for a recreational backyard shooter, but getting these issues under control is absolutely critical to ethical bowhunting.

On a previous post here, one commenter mentioned that an Olympic archery coach said it takes at least 5,000 shots for an archer to master technique. And it takes frequent, consistent practice to maintain that skill over time. So first and foremost, make sure you’re sending dozens of arrows downrange each week.

If you’re getting in tons of practice reps but have suddenly started shooting erratically, you might be dealing with target panic. It afflicts even the best, most experienced archers, but there are steps you can take to correct target panic. Switching up the target and practice routine, swapping out the release, and working with an archery coach have all helped pros get over the hurdle.

When buck fever’s the issue, practice, experience, and mental preparedness are usually the answer. Find what works for you.

Whatever your problem or the cause, stop making excuses and face it head on.