My bow was shooting okay last year. My sights are on. I cannot get pumped about season until it gets a little cooler temperature. These are all excuses that hunters use as to why they do not partake in summertime archery practice. Does practicing throughout the summer make one a better hunter?
For many die-hard bowhunters, the preparing and practicing for the upcoming fall season never stops. That is okay with them, because they eat, sleep, and breathe every part of the preparation that goes into it. Then there those who may love the hunt itself, yet they seem to need a little more push to practice than others. These are the ones that may even present an argument of all the extra effort being unnecessary. With the long, hot days of summer, it can sometimes be a challenge to make an effort towards a goal that we know we will not get to reap the benefits of until those crisp, chilly mornings during the fall season.
If a poll was taken amongst hunters who practice shooting their bow all summer asking, “Do you shoot to be a better hunter?” The majority would answer, “No.” Instead, they would reveal that they practice because they have fun shooting and being outdoors. To the ones who do not enjoy shooting for practice, try these activities to experience how much enjoyment practicing can bring.
SHOOT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
I am one of those who loves to shoot my bow, even if I am by myself. I get relaxation and a thrill in shooting my Elite Ritual 30 bow for 3 or 4 rounds during the summer nights. However, many do not share my enthusiasm as it can be tedious. A tactic to make practicing fun is by including family or friends. By shooting with family, one can enjoy friendly competitions and provide advice to one another to improve shooting techniques, all while still having fun as a family. It is our goal as hunters to introduce the younger generation to the fun and enjoyment of hunting and the outdoors. Involving children in family fun while practicing in the back yard is simply another step of passing it on.
Another way to enjoy shooting is by getting friends involved. Shooting with your friends is an additional opportunity to create friendly competitions, and practicing while having a barbecue or a back yard get-together is an excellent way to have fun while sharpening your shooting skills.
JOIN AN INDOOR LEAGUE
One of the most enjoyable summers while shooting my bow was when I joined an indoor league at our local archery pro shop. That summer, two of my good friends and I decided to shoot in a league every Tuesday night. The league consisted of 25 shooters who competed against one another by shooting six arrows per round for 12 to 20 rounds. During that summer, I had a blast fellowshipping with other hunters and shooters. I enjoyed competing against my buddies and making new friends along the way. One of the most significant rewards was watching how much my friends and I improved that year. I recall one particular night after the league was over, my pals and I continued shooting, making a competition of our own that included seeing who could hit an eraser that we had torn off of a pencil at 20 yards. It was fun, yet looking back on it now, I realize that we were confident enough in our shooting abilities to aim for such a small target, without realizing we were improving all the time.
Many pro shops offer some indoor shooting opportunities. It is a great way to soak up the cool a/c while still being able to shoot during the hot part of the summer. Many pro shops offer leagues, like some that I have personally shot, that provide trophies and prizes for joining and for your accomplishments
SHOOT IN HUNTING SITUATIONS
There are some hunters and shooters who enjoy practicing by themselves. If alone time sparks your interest, this activity may be the one for you. This style of practice is something that can be done with friends or by yourself. Either way, it creates an image of being on a real hunt and will make you more prepared for when the actual hunting season rolls around.
When creating a hunting situation for practicing, I like to take my Delta 3D Deer Target and place in tall grass, or even in a wooded area to resemble that of where one would be spotted in the wild. Once the target is in place, I move around to different distances and different angles, providing multiple shot scenarios. I shoot from the ground, sitting in a chair, and even from inside of my ground blind. I follow that by sitting up 1 or 2 tree stands to shoot out of. This type of practice can be performed either in the back yard or the timber to represent an actual hunting scene.
Shooting in a real hunting situation while practicing not only brings a thrill to the shooter. It also prepares one for when the chance of harvest presents itself in the wild. Practicing out of a stand or blind educates the shooter of how and where they can move to the make the shot, where they can pull back to get into the best shooting position and what needs to be done when hunting.
When searching an online dictionary for the word practice, one will find definitions such as practice as a verb: perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. Spending time shooting a bow throughout the entire summer will result in a better hunter. By practicing, you become more familiar with your equipment, how you shoot, and more confident in being able to hit your target once the string is released.
By: Heath Wood