As a professional Hunter and Guide I see and hear every excuse in the book for not making a good hit on your animal. In archery hunting, no matter how good you are or how much you practice, there will always be sometimes where the shot you took didn’t end up the way you wanted or planned it would. However, there are a few key steps to making sure you are doing everything in your power to be prepared for every possible condition and every shot opportunity you are wanting to take. Try to use some of these tips to help better prepare yourself for archery season.
- Get to know your equipment like the back of your hand: I shoot the newest and latest bow that Mathews comes out with every single year. By the time they come out with their newest bow I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on it and start shooting it. That being said, if you have a bow that you have used for the past few seasons or the past 20 years that you know and most importantly trust, then by all means there is no reason to fix something that isn’t broken. Also keep in mind that every year bow companies come out with new and improved bows, lighter, faster, stronger, and quieter than those before them. So, don’t be afraid to try something new. If you end up getting a new bow or if you’re using the same one from years past, still pick it up and start shooting it as soon as you can, even if it’s only for ten minutes a day. This will keep that muscle memory strong and your form consistent.
- Create real life scenarios when practicing: At minimum when I practice, I shoot at least 30 arrows at a time. It is very important to practice at all different distances even if all your stands are set up for close range shots. You can’t predict nature and that buck of a lifetime may hold up just beyond where you thought he would and you will be forced with a tough decision. If you practice at all different distances, you will be more comfortable to take a little longer shot than you expected if the opportunity warrants that. If possible, hang a stand or two in your yard where you have your targets set up. Elevated shooting practice is the best way to really dial in your equipment and learn what it does in an elevated environment before you go hunting. 3D targets are really the way to go if you can afford to buy one. Having that real looking and most times life-sized target to practice on helps tremendously. It really lets you hone in on the anatomy of the animal you’re hunting and also angles of entrance and exit wounds.
- Consistency: When you practice, consistency is one of the most important factors in an archer’s form. Make sure you set your anchor points and release’s trigger distance so that it can be repeated exactly, every single time you shoot. Have someone take a video or picture of you when you shoot so you can see exactly what you’re doing during your draw cycle. I use the tip of my nose as my anchor point because it the easiest place to repeatedly touch your string to your face.
- “I’m dialed in, I’m Good”: So you got your bow driving tacks and you’re shooting great. It’s the best feeling when you’re confident you know when you release that string, you know where the arrow is going to go. Confidence is VERY important in bowhunting. On that same note, don’t be complacent and not practice anymore until you’re ready to go hunting. Stay shooting your bow all the time if possible. Strings will stretch and get broke in after so many shots. Maybe you left the bow in your hot vehicle all day by accident, maybe you wanted to increase or decrease the draw weight you’re pulling. All of these factors can and will change the way your bow shoots.