Shooting a bow has no doubt taught you something about the old phrase "practice makes perfect." You've likely discovered nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe you were shooting at a high level of accuracy. The next day you're unhappy to find you couldn't hit the broadside of a barn.
We've all driven ourselves crazy trying to pinpoint accuracy issues as our minds get crammed with information on improving technique. But what you need to know is that practice doesn't equal perfect. Perfect practice equals perfect.
It's time to build a bow shooting routine that will bring you to a place of perfect practice. Here's how you'll find a way to get started on the right path.
Before you leave this page, hear me out. I am aware of the new wave of muscle mania in the hunting world. It almost seems like you need to qualify for a triathlon if you look at social media.
Being built like Dwayne the Rock Johnson is not required to shoot a bow. But strength training will help prevent injury and make you more confident with your practice.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is vital. It will make the mental and physical difference when that buck steps into your shooting window at last light after a 14-hour sit.
Maybe working out isn't your thing, and you're just looking for something simple to give you an edge on your archery skills. If that's you, try starting with a simple bodyweight routine.
– Push-ups x 25.
– Pull-ups, as many as you can do.
– Wall Squats for 30 seconds; add time as you get stronger.
– Chin-ups as many as you can do.
– Crunches to failure.
– Chair Dips as many as you can do.
Repeat two or three times using the workout two or three days per week. You will notice your shooting improve. Often times, real world shot opportunities force us into awkward shooting positions, core strength is vital in these "real world" scenarios!
There's not a magic number of reps that will ensure bullseyes. But repetition has its benefits. In the spring season, it's a good idea to shoot a high number of reps.
First, it builds a smooth foundational draw cycle. Second, more reps mean spending more time on your form. Start with twelve shots per session, then increase by six shots per week for one month. Shoot three to five days per week.
After one month, it's all about quality shots. Find the errors in your form and correct them. Video yourself shooting or have someone else make critiques. Five to twelve shots are all you need. Shoot two to three times a week for a month.
As your form improves, begin increasing your reps again.
In-season shooting shouldn't cease. Anything you can get is fine. Five quality shots, three to five days a week, is perfect. It might not seem like many reps. But you don't want to hurt your mental state.
Mandated mental breaks are ideal when your accuracy declines during low-stakes practice sessions. Get back to the basics when you've had some time to shake off bad habits. A week or two could make a big difference.
Missing practice can be stressful when it happens in-season. You want to keep hunting but likely feel the responsibility of proper shot placement. Take a few shots at twenty yards or less. If your precision hasn't changed at that yardage, make that your effective kill range. You can adjust to a further range when you've shaken off the cobwebs, but you can't take a shot back after it's left your bow.
You'll want to make sure your broadheads fly true three to four weeks before the season. That way, if you need to tune your rest or re-sight, you'll have plenty of time.
As much as it's advertised, broadheads will not fly like your field points. The closest you will get is a mechanical head, and they aren't for everyone or every bow. Sometimes getting broadheads zeroed can be frustrating, and yes, they tear targets apart. But practicing with them is well worth it when you’re in the moment of truth.
MIMIC THE FIELD
Take the extra steps needed to mimic shooting in the field. That might mean shooting from your saddle or your tree stand.
Trying on various hunting clothes will help you recognize flaws in your system. There could be sleeves that get in the way or hats that bump your string. Gloves can affect your grip, which will also alter your shot.
Take advantage of practicing in as many weather conditions as possible. Rain, wind, fog, and heat can impact your precision, so knowing what to expect from your bow is vital.
Last, if you're hunting public land and can't cut shooting lanes, practice in the woods. Learning to shoot in cover can train your eyes to find holes when it matters. It can also teach you when you should practice patience.
A clean shot is one of a hunter's most valued rewards. Of course, bad shots happen, and learning to work through them is a topic for another post. Remember your duty to quality shots first. As your confidence increases, so will your ability to crush challenges.
AUTHOR: Aaron Hepler, Exodus Black Hat Team Member