To be gold shy is the archer's equivalent to whiffing at bat, or airballing a freethrow, or developing writer's block. Suddenly and mysteriously, your arrows develop an allergy to the goldenrod dot marking the bullseye of an archery target. 

It is generally thought that there is no quick cure for being gold shy - that the only solution is to shoot at a bare archery bale until the mind stops seizing up on the concept of the target. If all you want to do is hit the bale, eventually the paralyzing focus on the half-dollar spot on the target fades. In medical terminology, it might be called a "self-limiting" condition. 

However, there is a cure for gold shy, though it might only work for traditional barebow instinctive archers like me (and the friend who suggested the cure to me). Instinctive archers don't hold their shots, nor do they consciously target their shot - the ideal instinctive archer moves their upper body in smooth, inexorable epicycles. If you can't hit the gold once in a full quiver, it's not because you targeted badly; something else is going on. Something in the attic or the basement. It is mesmerizing to watch a good instinctive shooter - the hand reaches back to the quiver for an arrow and arcs it onto the string and nocks it while pulling the string back to the face and releases it in one smooth, unhurried motion. A quiver of 12 arrows sounds like: thump-zing-thump-zing-thump-zing (etc.).

Gold shy in a compound shooter is difficulty releasing the shot, which one spends a great deal of time lining up using the sophisticated modern apparatus. High tech compound shooters rarely miss a bulls-eye because of the sophistication of the equipment, if they know how to use it. I'm not sure how to cure that kind of gold shy. 

The cure that works for some trad shooters: old stuffed animals. Unless you've got Zen. Then I guess try that. But stuffed animals, they can be attached to the target bale with bent nails.

You can find stuffed animals in various stages of decay at thrift shops, stuffed animals you would not want to offer to a child or a dog. Too well-loved, too long neglected, elderly and kind of stinky, the fermentation of ancient baby spit cemented to their fake fur with the accretion of underbed dust of a thousand years. Those are the ones you want to offer the honor of death by arrow instead of this terrible entropic disintegration.

Shooting at the stuffed animals causes the mind to relax its white-knuckle grip on the gold mentality - it's silly, it's fun, you look ridiculous (or possibly deranged), and it's just about impossible to take yourself too seriously when you're doing it. The eye relaxes, the arm relaxes, the lips curve up in a smile, the suppressed laugh tightens the core muscles, and you're back.

You probably also now have the entire archery range to yourself, and the high-tech deer hunters are going to be giving you the side-eye even worse than usual, but you're back. 

Back in the gold