We have all heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” While I believe this to be true, I feel like there is more to practice than just practice itself. Shooting your bow often will help strengthen the muscles that are being used as well as building the muscle memory. Now don’t get me wrong, this is all good practice but here are a few ways to become a better archery hunter.
1. Set Up in Different Scenarios
As nice as it would be to always have an animal come in at 20 yards and stand there broadside with nothing between you or them, let’s be honest, it doesn’t always happen. Set Up several different realistic scenarios in which you think you might get a shot. When I am spot and stalk hunting for deer or elk, I need to use the trees, rocks, or sagebrush for cover. I try and recreate some of these situations by setting up my target and actually trying to sneak up on it and draw while trying to stay covered then slowly peek around and place an accurate shot.
2. Shoot How You’ll Hunt
this is one that I strive to focus a lot of my attention. There are different times of the year that you hunt which requires different clothing. This is why I practice often so as the seasons change, I will know how I shoot with certain layers on. Now building the muscle memory and being consistent in your form won’t change, but you may find that one extra layer could be getting hit by the string as you shoot so you need to add a shooting sleeve over that layer. It will feel different when you have a hunting pack on. There have been plenty of times when hiking in with my pack on I get an opportunity at an animal. By practicing with my pack on I have the confidence knowing I can make that shot.
3. Just Breathe
Controlling your breathing is the most challenging aspects of hunting. I have troubles controlling my breathing no matter if it is a large bull elk or a whitetail doebut getting a handle on this will help you tremendously when the moment of truth comes. So how do you practice controlling your breathing? That is a really good question. What has worked for me is I sometimes do a light jog just to get my heart rate and breathing up then try to get it under control. Granted it’s not exactly the same but feeling your heart beat faster and breathing rate go up then try and shoot has helped me.
4. 3-D Archery
I enjoy shooting traditional flat face targets, but some of the best practice is shooting 3-D targets. I am a member of my local archery club and they put on several 3-D archery shoots throughout the year prior to hunting season. This is a great way to practice and see where you should be aiming on certain animals indifferent positions. I would highly suggest getting a 3-D target to practice with and set it up in different scenarios.
These are some things that have helped me become a better archery hunter. So yes practice does make perfect, but it matters how you practice. Don’t do it for the sake of practicing. When you are out there, make it worth your time and have fun. I may look funny sneaking through my yard just to shoot a 3-D target, but it sure is a blast!
Dustin was born and raised in Eastern Idaho where he currently resides with his wife and two sons.
Keep your eye out for the #elktour DVD over on huntography.com! Watch PSE’s Emily Anderson and Dustin Jones hunt elk DIY style on our amazing public lands in the Western United States. Huntography also films a deer hunting DVD called #deertour which you will be able to watch PSE’s Will Jenkins hunt whitetails. Huntography…filming America’s hunters, one at a time!