Adrenaline rushing through your body, heart pumping, bow at full draw with an elk in your sights... What happens next? Will you make a kill shot and be packing out an elk? Will you miss it completely? Or, will you wound the aminal?
Archery hunting will challenge you both mentally and physically. It’s part of what keeps us hunters coming back for more year after year. It’s also why pre-season preparation is just as, if not more, important than getting out into the woods during the season.
While throwing your target out in the yard and shooting at is helpful, it’s not the full meal deal. It takes a little more commitment to get fully prepared for the season ahead. Let’s look at a few ways to take your preparation and ultimately your hunting experience to the next level.
Fine-tune Your Equipment
Tuning your bow can be a tedious process and it can be tempting to settle for “close enough”. But remember, close enough could be the difference between a great shot and a wounded animal come September.
Your gear must be dialed in. If you are uncertain, don’t be afraid to visit your local archery shop and work with the pros to make the tweaks necessary to fine-tune your equipment.
Many of us hunt an entire season just to get one shot, we’d better be certain that our gear is perfectly set up and tuned to make that shot a great one.
Focus on Form
There’s a reason basketball players shoot free throws every single practice and it comes down to form and muscle memory. The more times you do something the right way the better you will be. The same holds true for archery hunting.
Every shot you take you should be thinking about your form and making the same movements until it becomes a habit. Shooting multiple arrows a day will not only have you feeling comfortable and confident, but it will also help build strength.
Build Strength and Endurance
Aminals are smart. It’s a rare occasion that they walkout at 20 yards and stand broadside for you. Rather, their vitals are typically behind a tree or shrub and their head is poking out all while you are drawn back just waiting for them to take one more step.
Prepare for long holds now. As you shoot your bow each day practice holding for up to three minutes (if you can). Pretend like its the real deal, pick a spot on your target and pretend like its the vitals. Drawback and hold, hold, hold...until you feel like you can’t any longer and then go ahead and let it rip.
You never know when you are going to get your opportunity and what you will be doing at that time. You may be crouching, kneeling, mid-step and the list goes on. The more positions you can confidently shoot from the better. So, go ahead and add variety when you practice. Shoot at a variety of angles, shoot from a variety of distances and shoot from a variety of positions to help ensure you are best prepared.
Focus on Fitness
There will be situations where you have just climbed a hill, are huffing and puffing, and need to drawback, it’s going to happen. Prepare now by throwing on your pack, grabbing your bow, and going for a hike. If you are unable to easily access hiking areas, go for a brisk walk with your pack on, do some air squats or burpees in between shots, do whatever you can to get your heart rate up and strengthen your legs.
Make It a Habit
Make your season preparation a weekly, if not daily, habit. If you do, you will be a fine-tuned machine when the season starts. Your legs will be strong and able to get you where you need to go. And, when it comes time to take a shot you will do so confidently, knowing that you have put hours of practice in, knowing that your bow is shooting straight and knowing that you have the strength to hold that bow back as long as it takes to get a great shot.
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