Mid-season Shooting Tips that are Critical to your Success

Mid-season Shooting Tips that are Critical to your Success

We have all been guilty of it. We shoot thousands of arrows all summer long, day after day getting our bows dialed and reps in, preparing for the upcoming bow season. Opening day confidence is high, shooting form and strength has peaked, and we are as prepared mentally, physically, and gear wise as we’ll ever be.

Unfortunately for many of us this peak doesn’t last long. As the season wears on it seems we spend more time hunting and focus less on shooting. This is something that I have tried to improve on, in the last few years. The opportunity we wait for all season may not come in September or Early October, when bow season opens. It may, and most likely will come in a month or more later into November. It’s important that we take the same level of confidence, or at least close to it, into our November hunts that we had on the opener. 

I’ve compiled a list of important steps to take to ensure you make the same shot you would on an opening day buck as you would on the rutting November buck that comes cruising in on a frosty morning.

  1. Mark Your Equipment – Although we would hope this never happens the reality is things can shift and move throughout the hunting season. Loading bows in and out of vehicles, busting through brush, and hauling in and out of tree stands can be rough on archery equipment. A minor shift in a sight, rest, string etc can throw your bow out of tune. I like to use a sharpie marker to outline my rest, site, string position on my cams, cable roller if adjustable, and peep site. This way it is easy to determine if something has moved. This also helps to remedy an issue quickly by having a baseline for readjustment. 

  2. Check Your Tune – This is an especially important one for fixed blade shooters but can greatly benefit mechanical shooters as well. There are many ways to do this but probably the most simple and quickest is to continue to shoot your broad heads with your field points. Although fletchings can do a great job cleaning up less than ideal arrow flight the bottom line is if your broad heads are grouping with your field points out to the farthest distances you plan on shooting at animals, you are going to be in decent shape. It's very easy to get in the habit of just shooting field points during the season to get your reps in but I make it a habit to mix in at least one practice arrow with a broad head on it to make sure they’re hitting with my field points every time I shoot. This practice along with consistently shooting allows me to recognize immediately if I have a tuning issue. 

  3. Maintain Form and Strength – One of the biggest problems with lack of shooting during the season is the deterioration of your form and archery related strength. In archery you utilize twitch and stabilizer muscles to draw your bow, steady your pin, and trigger your release that are not often used in everyday life. If you don’t use it you lose it. I’ve found myself having to use more and more effort to draw my bow controlled, hold my pin strong and steady on target, and make the shot break as the season wears on. I’ve also found myself getting sloppy on my anchor point position and falling out of my peep site which will result in high and low inconsistencies. These strength and form issues can all be eliminated but consistently shooting throughout the season. Set a goal for yourself such as shooting 3 times per week and 30 arrows each session.

  4. Vary Your Targets – This is something that is not often thought of. Oftentimes I start my practice shooting at a target face with spots. I want to make sure my pins and site tape are precise and there is no better way of doing this than by shooting at spots. As the summer wears on I start to favor shooting 3D targets which is important but oftentimes I go back to spots during in season practice. Consistently hitting a few inches, high, low, left or right is hardly noticeable on a 3D target just by the nature of the kill zone on an animal. One could be slightly missing their mark almost every shot but this can still result in a double lung hit on a 3D target. Bow hunting is a game of inches and a couple inches high on your shot can make the difference between capitalizing on the opportunity you've been waiting all year on or going home dejected and empty handed.  I suggest routinely shooting at small spots at all yardages throughout the season to make sure your shots are as precise as possible. This also helps you to maintain good form, release, and focus that is required to make the precise shots you want on an animal. 

  5. Continue to Shoot Longer Distance – I know that after a summer of shooting 60-100 yards a 40 yard shot on opening day looks like a chip shot. 6 weeks later after only flinging a few arrows a week at 20 yards that same 40 yard shot in the timber looks like an impossibility. The shorter your practice shots, the shorter the range you are going to feel confident shooting in the woods. Shooting at long ranges requires perfect form, release, focus, and confidence and will keep you at the top of your game so that your effective range doesn’t shrink as the season progresses. Confidence is everything and practicing longer ranges will give you the confidence you need to execute all shots, especially those that are slightly longer or tougher.

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