It’s that moment we all wait for. He’s walking towards a shooting lane you cut months ago…you draw your bow…find you anchor point and with a gentle eeer you stop him…your pin settles and THWAAAAACK!
It is that very moment we all live for and prepare for, yet sadly countless hunters make a mistake when it comes to preparation in my opinion. As I type this I’m still about two weeks till opening day here in Indiana, so I’m in the heart of pre-season jitters and final preparations. Part of those final preparations is consistent practice with my bow.
Now I’ll be honest I don’t shoot as much as some guys out there…but that is very intentional. This time of year I may only shoot 6 arrows a night, sometimes less. When I tell fellow bow hunters this I often times get a raised eyebrow and a peculiar look comes across their face. Knowing full well their face is gonna keep twisting into more odd formations I continue with an explanation which is a series of questions.
“When you are hunting is it more likely for you to get one shot or two shots at the same animal?”
Obviously this is answered with a one unless they are feeling foolish.
“So you’re agreeing that unless something completely out of normalcy occurs I’m going to get just one shot on what could be a trophy mature buck?”
A gentle nod or verbal confirmation is always given in response.
“So why then do so many guys shoot countless number of arrows in their backyard or at the range when season gets close?”
This is when the wheels have turned over and their faces don’t look quite as peculiar as they do intrigued.
“Put simply I have all summer to tune my bow, mess with set ups and such…once we get to about August and definitely no later than September I don’t want to change anything – it is time to stop target practicing and bow tuning and start hunting practice.”
Hunting practice is much different than target practicing or shooting practice. There are 3 primary ways that separate hunting practice from just bow practice:
Hunting practice is the mindset of you have one arrow and one shot. It absolutely doesn’t matter how well you group or if your 2nd through 28th shot all hit the 10 ring if the first one would have been back 5 inches and low 5 inches…completely changing the entrance and exit location if on a real deer. So, I shoot one arrow and wait. Sometimes I go inside and watch some TV, cook dinner or do dishes before coming out and shooting another arrow…but I always will take a break between shots, because I’m simulating one shot and done kind of scenarios.
Use broadheads! I get it and understand they’re more expensive and that you may have to buy two packs, one for practice and one for hunting, but do it! A hunter should never assume his bow is properly tuned or that it will shoot any broadhead the same as field points…hence why I use broadheads. Hunting practice isn’t for those special “practice” heads either…the real deal is what you need to use because if they were 100% the same they wouldn’t send “practice” heads with them. Some guys are amazed at how different their broadheads fly from their field points…which if this is the case this is a topic for a much larger discussion on tuning your bow.
Don’t be consistent! No I’m not talking like you are probably thinking, I’m simply meaning don’t keep shooting in the same spot on the same surface every single time. If possible mix the elevation up, position of your body with the target, sitting or standing…many variables can occur when up a tree or in the field try to emulate them as much as possible. Wear a jacket sometimes to simulate cold season, a poncho if you hunt in the rain or simply using your back up release you keep just in case you drop the primary. All these things and much more are possible scenarios when hunting, hence why we now practice them.
Hunting practice isn’t about getting the bow shooting well and consistent, that occurred months prior during spring/summer practice…this is now the time for making sure we can feel comfortable and confident in “hunting” type scenarios where we have one shot and one shot only to make the lethal shot. That shot could come while sitting with a jacket and a back up release…have you practiced that shot? Or it could come with your body corked to the left…have you practiced that?
The more one and done kind of scenarios you practice the more confident you will be when a shot is available come hunting season…and if there is one thing I have found every single successful mature buck hunter (deer hunter for that matter even) has in common is confidence. Confidence in being able to make the shot and know when their release is squeezed they know exactly where that arrow is heading!
This is Ty, good luck and God bless out there!