With bow season right around the corner most bow hunters should already be practicing shooting form and accuracy drills. However most archers practice the same shots over and over again. If you are shooting the same distances and shot angles your not making the most of your range time. You’re shooting your bow, but you’re not doing much to prepare yourself for field conditions. Here are some archery drills that will help you better prepare for this upcoming hunting season.
An often over-looked archery drill is simply to get up into a tree stand and practice different shot angles. Simulating these field situations forces your body to get used to bending at the hips instead of just aiming the bow lower. Each time you practice, move the target nearer, further away, and side to side, which will constantly challenge you to adapt to a slightly different shot. I usually practice standing up and sitting down positions to replicate any field encounters. Another tip with this approach is to practice on an actual 3-D deer target instead of just a bag or block. This helps you get used to shooting at a deer form and lets you clearly see which shot angle would penetrate the vitals.
This may seem obvious, but every bow hunter is guilty of practicing on a target from the same known distances. You’re not always going to know the exact shot yardage in a real hunting situation. Now, rangefinders will help you determine distance but sometimes you won’t have the time to use one, and need to be able to make a shot quickly using only your ability to judge distances.
You can and should use this archery drill with the shot angles approach above. While in your tree stand, use your rangefinder to pinpoint key trees along shooting lanes. Then estimate how far your target is between those objects. You’ll get better and more accurate the more you switch things up. Using this technique, if a deer steps out between tree X and Y, you know it’s between 20 and 30 yards and can adjust your shot accordingly.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to take some long distance shots in practice. You probably won’t feel comfortable taking an ethical shot at a deer from 50-60 yards, but practicing for it will force you to fix small form errors. This technique will translate to tighter groupings at shorter distances and make you a more confident archer.
Holding at Full Draw
Every bow hunter has drawn on an animal and been forced to hold… hold… HOLD… with shaking arms while waiting for that perfect shot opportunity. After what seems like an eternity, you finally have a shot, immediately let the arrow fly and miss the mark. Don’t let that happen this season. You should practice this archery drill often to build muscle and stamina. Draw your bow back and count to 15, 30 or 60 seconds before shooting. If repeated regularly, this exercise will help build strength, but more importantly it will demonstrate the need to maintain form and follow-through under stress.
Of course, you could be faced with the exact opposite scenario this season. You have 3 seconds to draw and shoot before the animal is gone into the brush forever. If it takes you 5 seconds to anchor and align your pin, you won’t have a chance. Practice shooting quickly so you can get an arrow on its way in a hurry if the situation dictates. The point of this drill is to get a shot off in a hurry but focus on accuracy. The goal is to shoot quickly without rushing the shot.
Take the time to make archery practice a habit. By the time fall comes, you will be so tuned that you can focus solely on the moment of truth. You will be better at judging distances and making difficult shot angles seem easy. Practice these drills regularly and you will have a much better chance at shooting consistently when it counts this season.
How often do you shoot your bow and what techniques do you use to prepare for season?
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