Practice makes perfect and every bowhunter wants to be just that when archery season rolls around. Rarely does everything go perfectly though, but practicing your shooting skills regularly will definitely increase your chances of a successful hunt. I like to practice throughout the year for all the various game I hunt; including the whitetail deer here in southern Illinois, the turkeys in various states, elk in the mountains, and antelope in Colorado. Lately, I’ve been improving my shooting skills for my upcoming spring black bear hunt. Nothing prepares me more for these hunts better than going to the archery range and shooting at the 3D targets. The realistic targets make better practice for real life situations after you’ve accurately sighted in your bow and are confident in your shooting ability at known distances.
The author (shown here) likes to practice in a realistic hunting situation. This is accomplished by shooting out of her treestand, with her hunting gear, while using broadhead-tipped arrows.
I’ve been going to the archery range since I was five years old with a little recurve bow. I always loved going with my Dad and my little sister. I wasn’t too bad of a shot with that little bow. My sister and I would have friendly competitions along the way and I’ll have to say, she was a tough opponent for me. We had, and still have, the best time guessing our yardages and trying to see who can hit the sweet spot of the target. Through the years, we’ve moved our way up. I now shoot a Mathews Jewel compound bow and my little sister, Adriana, shoots a Mission by Mathews Menace bow. We continue to shoot regularly at the archery range and in our backyard. We are currently in a competition to see who can be the first to get a turkey with their bow this spring.
Alli and her little sister, Adriana, love to shoot in their backyard. They enjoy a friendly competition to see who the better shot is.
One of my favorite ways to practice in my backyard is to start at twenty yards and move my way back ten yards at a time to sixty yards, shooting one arrow at a time. This allows me to have a better idea of my yardages on the range and while hunting. While most of us hope we won’t have to shoot at sixty yards while hunting, practicing at such distances definitely makes closer yardages (like twenty and thirty yards) seem like a breeze. In some cases, such as my archery elk hunt last fall, I was thankful I had practiced at farther distances because I was able to kill my first bull elk with my bow at sixty yards.
Shooting at longer yardages when practicing will make you an all-around better shot.
Practicing at the correct yardages and insuring that your form is right isn’t all that goes into a good shot. I like to shoot from different angles and positions like standing on the ground as if I was stalking an animal, from an elevated platform as if I was hunting from a treestand, or even sitting in a chair like I would be while in a ground blind. Making sure that you practice exactly how you hunt is also crucial. The difference between shooting with a field-point and a broadhead can impact your shot, so practicing with a broadhead is always a good idea when the season is near.
Practicing in hunting gear and in a variety of positions and angles, such as stalking and sitting, will better prepare you for in-the-field shooting situations.
Another important thing to consider when practicing is the clothes you’re going to wear when hunting. This is crucial because heavier clothing will change your arrow’s flight. A change in altitude could also make a difference in your arrow trajectory. When traveling I always shoot my bow when I get to my destination to insure everything is still in check.
While all of this may sound like a lot of work, it really is fun. There’s just something about watching my arrow hit right where I was aiming that is very satisfying. I know with each shot I’m that much closer to the season and closer to a better and more ethical shot.