Making the Shot: 3 Keys to Successon Oct 1, 2012
Slow Things Down
If you’ve ever seen one of the movies in the popular sci-fi trilogy “The Matrix”, then you are familiar with the visually appealing scenes where everything seems to move in slow motion. I love those; in fact, they are my favorite movies. So what does my love of those films have to do with bowhunting? Well, when looking back on my successful shots over the years, the one thing that seems to stand out the most is that each of them appeared to happen in slow motion; just like one of those scenes from the movies.
I see the buck, I come to anchor, cut the shot and suddenly, time “decelerates”. The arrow seems to literally pull its way through the air until it impacts in just the right spot. Then, everything speeds back up. Eventually, I find myself following a very short blood trail. On the other hand, when examining shots that I have managed to bungle, it seems the common denominator is speed. Everything seems to be happening faster than I can keep up with. As a result, there usually is no blood trail to follow….simply because dirt doesn’t bleed.
Considering these two vastly different scenarios and their eventual outcomes, I have come to the conclusion that success indeed revolves around the ability to slow things down during the moment of truth. However, we all know that can be easier said than done. It’s simply not enough to tell yourself, “I am going to stay calm, not get nervous”. Don’t get me wrong, that sort of thing helps, and maybe you actually will stay calm. However, the best approach would be to have something reliable; a game plan so to speak.
Fast is bad when it comes to bowshots. Find a way to slow the process down and you will definately fill more tags.
When that rain-soaked buck happened-up on me I had no game plan at all---nothing! I was counting on fragile emotions to pull me through the shot when I should have had a solid shooting strategy. The entire episode was over so quickly that I remember standing there thinking “what just happened?” As I mentioned, for me, slow is good, and fast is the kiss of death.
Like I said, I have since learned that in order to have any hopes of making a successful shot while under the influence of a racing heart and knocking knees, you need an effective way to control your thoughts. But how? Well, it’s really kind of simple. As soon as the decision has been made to shoot, mentally start reciting your pre-shot check list, maybe the numbers one to ten, the alphabet, or perhaps a verse from your favorite song. Anything to take your mind off of the overwhelming excitement you are feeling. For me, it is a Bible scripture that I quote to myself, over and over, until I cut the shot. The point is find something to occupy your “mind” with, other than the thought of melt down, while your muscle memory kicks in and pulls you through the shot. If you’ve put in your time on the practice range, your sub-conscience will know how to execute a perfect shot; as long as your scrambled mind doesn’t screw things up.
Quietly speaking words to yourself in the clutches of “the moment” will indeed cause you to operate in a slow, deliberate manner; increasing the odds of making a good shot. Especially if, for instance, you decide not to shoot until you’ve said your special phrase at least twice. If you can hold it together well enough to remember all of that, the odds are good you can keep your wits about you long enough to put your arrow where it needs to be.
When you have put in the time properly preparing for the shot.....blood trails are often very short.
When it comes to bowhunting, remember, nobody is batting a thousand. You are going to miss. Everybody does. However, there are certain individuals that rarely return home with stories of disappointment and an arrow that missed its mark. What sets these bowhunters apart from everyone else is no mystery. They have a dependable plan of attack designed with one objective in mind….handling the whitetail shot. There is no better time than now to start working on your own system. One that ensures your dreams are won….. not lost.