Hunting Gear You Should Practice With Before Opening Day

By Brodie SwisherSeptember 21, 2023

It’s been said that the success rate for bowhunters nationwide hovers around 10%. Everyone else will go home empty handed.

Are you one of the 10 percenters? Are you one of the bowhunters that routinely notches a tag on the game you pursue? There are a multitude of reasons why the 90% fail to find success each year, but for many, it comes down to lack of preparedness. Don’t let this be you. 

Below you’ll find a quick list of the hunting gear you should practice with before opening day to help tip the odds in your favor. 

Shoot Your Broadheads

“Flies just a like a field point!”

Don’t believe everything you read on the front of a product package. Yes, some broadheads fly much like your field points. But there are plenty that won’t. You need to know for yourself. Make the investment. Dull a few broadheads in the process. But never just assume your broadhead is good to go without practicing with it first. Fixed blade, or mechanical, and regardless of how much you spent, shoot your broadheads before your hunt. 


Shoot Your Bow With Gloves and Mask On

Far too many hunters shoot their bow all summer, never once practicing with the gear they’ll actually be wearing while on the hunt. You really need to practice shooting while wearing your mask and gloves. 

Is it really that big a deal? 

Yes! The gloves on your hands, and the mask over your face can dramatically change your grip, anchor point, and visibility. Be sure to practice often with these two items on. Practice like you’ll play on game day to eliminate any surprises. 

scentlok gloves

Shoot While Wearing Your Bulky Winter Camo

Don’t limit your practice routine to just your face mask and gloves. The same applies to the rest of your camo gear. Particularly the heavy winter camo you’ll wear when the temperatures drop. That big bulky jacket could present problems in drawing your bow, or with string slap upon release. Practice with it on during the off-season to make sure you can perfectly execute the shot.  

Get to Know Your Climbing Treestand

You’ll know the guy or gal that didn’t practice with their climbing treestand before opening day when you hear them. They’ll be on the next ridge over, throwing their gear and cussing up a storm as daylight begins to break.

Why are they having a meltdown?

It’s because they didn’t practice with their treestand before the hunt. Don’t be that person. Don’t wait until 5:00am on opening day to figure things out in the dark. Practice now to prevent the meltdown.  

Try Your New Saddle & Sticks

The only thing that may be more important than practicing with your new treestand is to practice with your new saddle and climbing sticks. Sure, it looks easy when you’re watching hunters employ the saddle method on all those YouTube videos. Just know, it’s not as easy as it looks. It takes practice. It’s much different than what you’ve known with a traditional treestand. Shooting from a saddle takes a little practice. You need to see it and feel it for yourself. This is one you definitely want to practice with before opening day. 

Muck Apex Pro 16 Boot Review

Break In Your Boots

Fail to follow this rule and your feet will be blistered to the point of sitting a few days out of the woods. Wear your boots well in advance of hunting season. Wear them to work, school, and church. Who cares what they look like! The point is to break them in and know what they will, or won’t, do to your feet after longs hours of being laced up. 

Hunting Gear You Should Practice With Before Opening Day

Get Comfortable With Your Release

Trying a new release this year? Make sure to spend plenty of time going through the motions to ensure you can flawlessly execute the shot. A lot of shooters switch releases on a fairly regular basis. They learn to punch one release, so they simply switch to another. That works for a time, until they learn to punch it as well. It’s a never ending cycle of frustration. Learn to address the mental problem. Make sure you’re comfortable shooting your release before opening day. 

Don’t let your lack of preparedness be a deal breaker on opening day this season. Take the time to practice with the gear you’ll tote to the woods this year, well before the day finally arrives. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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