A short stride is not the only thing that will keep you from hitting the target with the towel. Flaws in any of the 7 imperatives can keep you from getting there. For example, a late posture change, arms not opposite and equal at foot strike, poor hip and shoulder separation, no delay in shoulder rotation, failing to get stacked and track, failure to stabilize the glove out front, etc. can all cause your release point to pull back. Contrary to what many people think, the towel drill is about putting all of the mechanics together with proper timing. The goal is not to hit the target but to have perfect mechanics. Assuming you don't cheat by doing something like lunging, hitting the target is simply feedback that your mechanics were good.