Archery Practice for the Offseason

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Many archery hunters do not shoot their bow enough during the off-season. Instead of practicing year round they pick up their bow a couple weeks before hunting season. They fling a few arrows and call it good. This is extremely irresponsible. By not practicing they limit their true effective range. When the moment of truth comes target panic is more likely to effect them.

Each practice session should start with shooting form work. Proper shooting form is the single most important part of archery practice. The goal is to develop proper shooting form without thinking about it. With enough practice your shooting form will become second nature. Unfortunately any bad habits will also become locked in. The first couple arrows of each practice session need to be dedicated to proper shooting form. Concentrate on your anchor point, grip and stance. If you can not consistently group your arrows tightly, assuming your bow is in tune, bad form is possibly the cause. Most archery pros will be happy to watch you shoot a few arrows and tell you if you have a problem with your shooting form.

Archery hunters should practice at different distances, not just at the maximum effective range. Do this without the aid of a range finder or at set distances. The reason is obvious, you never know where an animal will show up. This real world practice will help with guessing the range. After each shot check the range with a range finder to see how close your gress was. The goal is to be able to shoot soft-ball size ( 4 inch ) groups at every distance. At the end of each practice session shoot a few arrows five to ten yards beyond your maximum range. Over time this will help increase your maximum effective range. What you consider your maximum range should not change until your arrows group around the bulls-eye everytime for a week. Hold the bow at full draw for up to a minute once in awhile.

Archery hunters must include sitting and kneeling positions occationaly. Most shots on game are taken from the sitting position. It is good to change the position of your chair often. Pretend that the animal has come in from different angles. The key to this kind of practice is keeping a correct form in all stances. Anchor points have a habit of travelling when using different stances.  

As hunting season nears shooting from an elivated stand should also be included. This will be much easier with a partner. Your partner can help by moving the target around while you stay on stand. After your turn shooting you would do the same for him. When shooting downhill remember to bend at the waste. This will help maintain a consistant anchor point. It is critical to keep your upper body straight and maintain proper form. It is good to do some of your archery practice in your hunting cloths, this includes any face mask you wear. The closer to hunting season the more you should wear them. I have a set of clothes that I use only for practice. That way my hunting clothes can remain scent free and fresh. 

After archery season is over do not put your bow away. Archery hunters have a good reason to practice year round. Cost is not a factor as the arrows can be reused countless times. The only real investment is time. What better way to spend time than doing something you love? 


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