by Frank McDonough
When we find ourselves deeply committed to something, we typically find that the commitment consumes much of our time and financial resources. We want to pursue every angle so we are successful. As we go through life, we invest in things like education, training for jobs, seminars and classes for our favorite hobby. But somewhere along the way, bowhunters adopted the idea that when it comes to accuracy, being “good enough” was acceptable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Between the anti-hunting opposition we face, and the fear of pushing the 80% of non-hunting population away from the sport, we need to take everything about bowhunting and archery serious. From our image to our accuracy, we have a responsibility to strive for excellence. We also owe it to the animals we pursue to be as deadly accurate as possible. If you agree, and you’re ready to take your shooting to the next level, you really should consider utilizing an archery coach. Why? Because the steps you take with an coach will directly impact the way you perform as a bowhunter. Here’s a look at 5 reasons you need an archery coach.
Whether you’re shooting X’s, foam, or the lungs of a big game animal, accuracy is the name of the game. We can set up our bows in such a way that allow us to be fairly accurate, but if you want to take accuracy to a new level, you should consider a coach. The bottom line is that archery coaches aren’t all created equal. Sure, the local bow shop staff can get you started, but the fact of the matter is, certified coaches with legitimate competition experience are what you want. Accuracy is largely impacted by what goes on in your mind. A good coach knows how to help you develop your accuracy with more than a tweak or two of your bow. He or she will help with the mind games that are so crucial to your accuracy on the range and in the woods. Your ability to consistently hit the X on the range simply increases the likelihood of a quality shot by a bowhunter when Mr. Big Whitetail is standing in front of you during hunting season.
Bow Fit & Tune
Like coaching, not all bow technicians are created equal either. Every bow has its sweet spot for forgiveness and today’s technology is more forgiving than ever. Do you have the right person to maximize what you’ll get out of your bow? Some bow shops have the technicians to make it happen. Many do not. An experienced archery coach is one that will likely have the know-how to help super-tune your bow to exactly where it needs to be for you to maximize its performance in your hands. An experienced coach will be able to identify any deficiencies and fix them. Again, it goes beyond, “good enough.” Close won’t cut it when you’re looking for excellence in your shooting. An improper bow fit can result in inaccuracies and other issues that will limit your performance. Find a coach that knows how to help you with the proper fit and tuning.
Target panic can be one of the biggest reasons you need an archery coach. Ten out of ten bowhunters have experienced some form of target panic, aiming anxiety, or other symptoms of shooting issues. To be honest, most bowhunters just think that it’s part of the shooting experience. And that is simply not the case. Target panic manifests itself in multiple ways from slapping the trigger or thumb, collapsing, dip bangs, being stuck at a specific spot off your aiming point, or inability to hold on target at all. The bow tech who puts a thumb or index finger release in your hand for the first time and says “pull it back, put the pin on, and pull the trigger” is partially to blame because that isn’t the correct steps to an accurate shot, and a new shooter won’t know the difference. The coach will take you through all the steps to proper execution of the perfect shot and overcoming target panic.
As mentioned earlier, we want to be successful in everything we do, right? Especially the things we put so much of our time and money into, like archery and bowhunting. Being successful makes it fun. Having fun retains bowhunters. The goal is to be accurate, shoot with ease, and make as clean and ethical of a shot as possible. In order to experience success down range we must be willing to critique every aspect of our shot and having someone watch you, either in person or via remote coaching, to get an outside perspective. Think about it. From our perspective as a shooter, we simply see the shot. We see the shots when we’re right on the money and we see the misses. We might see the flinches and obvious flaws, but rarely will we see the form breakdown that causes shots to miss the mark. That’s why the outside perspective from a coach is so important. They will see what we can’t. A coach will watch our form and shot execution from every angle to see what needs improvement. Fresh eyes on our form will greatly impact the way in which we move forward in our shooting and accuracy.
We all love going to the Big Box Outdoor stores to see the fish, the mounts, and the next best gadget on the shelf. But in a lot of cases, staff at these locations are simply there to make sales. Your best interest isn’t always taken into consideration. Meanwhile the archery industry is taking more of a service approach and selling the sport and experience not just equipment. With the push for online sales, coaching has surfaced as a necessary driver for the retention of archers and bowhunters. We are losing hunters by the day, and from a bowhunting standpoint, the lack of personal experience at the big box store and decrease in the small bow shops across the country is partially to blame. The big box experience has replaced authenticity of what archery really is. A good coach will help create that experience and make you want to pick up that bow all year long, not just a month or two before the season.
Reasons You Need an Archery Coach – Conclusion
As the owner of an archery training center, I see thousands of shots throughout the year. I get to work with kids from age 6 to adults. We should not accept the idea that pie plate accuracy is good enough anymore. The fit of our equipment in relationship to the most efficient bio-mechanical position of our body affects our accuracy tremendously. My recommendation is to find a highly certified coach that has been training in bow tuning and proper body position according to the USA Archery National Training System for compound archery. They will have the knowledge and background to identify those deficiencies. Sure, the local bow tech or shop shooter can be a good mentor, and can certainly be of benefit, but the recommendation to find a certified coach is based off the fact that they have pursued an extra level of training. It’s the kind of training that will guide your shooting performance to a level you’ve yet to experience.
I’ve heard it a million times from old-school bowhunters who say, “I don’t need to be able to kill foam or X’s in order to kill a deer,” and that’s 100% true. But I’m a huge advocate for increasing my odds. Hunting is all about putting the odds in your favor, and I’ll take the odds of a coached bowhunter over the alternative any day.