The Underrated Role of Mental Toughness In Archery

I've used almost all the principles that made me a champion archer to make myself a better bowhunter. It's all about complete preparation. For me, the most important part of that is prepping my mind.

Champion archer Levi Morgan uses visualization to gain a mental edge in competition, and he employs the same techniques to boost his confidence in the whitetail woods. The results hanging on his trophy room walls speak for themselves.

All serious hunters spend so much time and money preparing for the fall. We have the best bows, accessories and camo that money can buy. We set up stands, plant food plots and shoot all summer long. We are ready! Or are we? The truth is, most probably aren't, even if they've done everything I just mentioned. See, no matter how physically prepared you are or how prepped your spots are or how patterned that big buck is, if you're not mentally capable of holding yourself together in the moment of truth, all that hard work is for nothing. I may have never stumbled across the importance of mental visualization had I not grown up in the competition world, but nevertheless, I now use it every time I pick up my bow.

In the realm of competitive archery, confidence is everything. Of course, my equipment must be flawless and so must my form. But that won't mean anything if I can't keep myself together on that final arrow. How do I prepare for that moment? I visualize every shot — every possible scenario; I shoot every arrow in my mind before I shoot it in real life. And every time, the outcome in my mind is the same; I win! I do this over and over waiting on the finals or at night in my hotel room. Then when I'm there, in that moment, instead of feeling uncomfortable and nervous, I already know the outcome, because I've won 100 times in my head over the last 24 hours. Obviously, I don't always actually win, but that confidence has carried me through more times than not. The problem is, sometimes the other guy has won 100 times in his head too.


If you love bowhunting like I do, then you already do some form of mental preparation and you don't even know it. I involuntarily daydream about shooting giant bucks all the time, but then I take it a step further — and you should too. Every time I climb into the tree, I instantly go into "what if" mode. I think the deer is going to come from that patch of timber, but what if he comes from behind me? Most failure is prompted by surprise, which causes us to panic and then rush. I try to go over every scenario, every way that big buck could come. I want to imagine it and know exactly what to do when it happens, because nine times out of 10, things don't go the way they are supposed to when you're hunting a mature animal. Then, when that 180-inch buck steps out in the one spot you never figured he would, you're cool, calm and collected because you just shot him there a few minutes ago in your mind.


Mental training has been one of my most important edges in competition for my entire career — if not the most important — and I've used the same method in bowhunting with similar success. We all put in so much work preparing for our favorite time of the year, but for most the mental training goes untouched, causing a lot of heartbreak in the moments that should be our biggest victories. Don't let those opportunities slip away because you didn't prepare your most valuable piece of equipment — your mind.


Recommended for You

Take advantage of 360-degree shooting. Treestands & Blinds

How Do I Shoot from a Tree Saddle?

Greg Staggs

Take advantage of 360-degree shooting.

Treestand hunting is not an exact science. We all learn with experience, and there is definitely an Whitetail

10 Best Treestand Hunting Tips

Bill Winke

Treestand hunting is not an exact science. We all learn with experience, and there is...

Timing and presentation are key to a successful decoy strategy. Whitetail

How To Use Deer Decoys In The Rut

John Dudley

Timing and presentation are key to a successful decoy strategy.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Field editor Bill Winke goes over steps you can take to improve the tuning on your bow.

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Designed exclusively for their crossbows, Ravin has announced three new mechanical broadheads to maximize penetration and overall performance.

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint CP400 Crossbow – First Look

CenterPoint Archery evolves in design and performance with the introduction of the new CP400 Crossbow.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More


It's that time of year when Arrows & Broadheads

2017 Fixed-Blade Broadhead Test

Jon E. Silks - December 12, 2017

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More It's that time of year...

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

Top New Arrows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show!

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

Best New Bow Sights for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new bow sights from the 2019 ATA Show!

See More Stories

More Stories

Question: As a guide, I am in the woods either hunting or guiding about 100 plus days a year. I get Stories

What Game Animal Gets You Fired Up?

Bill Winke - July 16, 2013

Question: As a guide, I am in the woods either hunting or guiding about 100 plus days a year....

Each season brings a new crop of high-performance bows, crossbows, new accessories and new — and Stories

The Pros Explain How to Master the Mental Game

Mark Taylor - September 08, 2016

Each season brings a new crop of high-performance bows, crossbows, new accessories and new —...

In the late summer of 2013, Ohio bowhunter Chad McKibben began collecting trail camera pictures of Stories

The Five-Percent Buck

Brad Fitzpatrick - September 08, 2016

In the late summer of 2013, Ohio bowhunter Chad McKibben began collecting trail camera...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.