You’ve practiced shooting your bow for months prior to the season’s opening day. You’ve tested broad heads, tried different arrows, tuned your bow, made adjustments, and are more ready than ever before. You go out to your stand with tons of confidence, sit for a while and all of a sudden here comes a shooter. You go through the motions and let an arrow fly only to realize you didn’t hit exactly where you intended. Does this sound familiar? It happens to a lot of us. We practice to the point where we can hit a pie plate at 50 yards consistently and then when the money shot presents itself we muff it at only 20 or 30 yards out. Talk about frustrating, right? Well here are a few shooting tips that will help you be more successful.
Vince Lombardi said “practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” and he was right. A lot of hunters know that shooting a gun or bow many months before the start of the season is crucial, but it is HOW we practice that makes all the difference. What is different between your practice sessions and a real hunting situation? If you think about it, there are actually a lot of differences.
Most hunters practice from ground level. Well, if you hunt from a blind 100% of the time that might fly but we’ll discuss a few tips on that later. If you are a tree stand hunter – you should be practicing your shots from an elevated position. Many things change even at only 10 or 15 feet off the ground, obviously the angle is different. At a higher angle, shooting down on a target means you have to bend at the hips while keeping your form true from the waist up. This can be easier said then done.
Some archery shooters will inadvertently bend their arm or wrist which will almost always throw off your shot. It may not be convenient to climb a tree stand or some other type of elevated platform every time you want to practice but neither is tracking a badly hit deer. You certainly don’t have to shoot from a higher position every time you practice but as the season approaches doing it more often won’t hurt.
For those of us that hunt from a ground blind, there are a few things we could do as well to perfect our practice shooting. The easiest way of doing this is to simply practice shooting from the blind just like you would in the field during the season. If you sit on a bucket, practice from a bucket. If you sit in a chair, practice from that chair and so on.
Some hunters will slip off of their seat onto their knees to make a shot so that is how they should practice. It also helps to get use to shooting through the blind windows and small openings. Move your target around and take different angle shots out of each and every window you possibly can. It is guaranteed you’ll find some harder to shoot through than others. The point is, familiarize yourself with shooting from a stand or blind so it isn’t awkward when you get your chance to harvest an animal.
Another huge difference between common practice and a real hunting situation is lighting. Normally we all practice in the day or an indoor range that is well lit. This is great for seeing through your peep perfectly, illuminating your sight, and seeing the bulls eye without a problem, but having a great hunting shot in the field with these ideal circumstances is certainly an anomaly. More times than not it’s dawn or dusk when deer and other game are moving. Taking this into consideration, and our “perfect practice” technique, you should be practicing shooting during these low light conditions.
Shoot at dawn or dusk if you’re outside. If you are able to use an indoor range, ask the right personnel if you can turn the lights down low for awhile. Another great place to shoot is a barn loft if you have access to one just as long as there is no livestock that would be endangered. Barns are usually not lit very well and shooting from the loft would also incorporate your higher angle practicing at the same time. Just remember to always use common sense and to be safe while shooting in low light conditions.
Last but not least are your clothes. That’s right, how often do you hunt in your street clothes? Hardly ever, but yet most everyone practices in them. Again, like some of the other circumstances, shooting a bow or gun is entirely different when you are wearing hunting clothes, gloves, face mask, and so on. These days with scent being so important, most hunters wear camouflage literally from head to toe. Start practicing shooting with the same gear on as you are going to be hunting in and you will certainly increase your chances of being a better shooter in a hunting situation.
Follow these perfect practice shooting tips and you will not only become a better shooter, but you’ll increase your chance of delivering an ideal shot and bagging a trophy animal.