By Bruce Beal
Archery hunting is both physically and mentally challenging. Those challenges are why we hunters love archery hunting so much and why we get so excited about hunting season. It’s also why pre-season preparation is just as, if not more, important than getting out into the woods during the season.
Occasionally dropping a target in your yard and shooting a few arrows is NOT enough! If you want your next hunting season to be the most successful ever, you’ll need to make a serious commitment to get fully prepared for the season ahead. It’s not hard. It will just require effort and consistency. And it will pay off.
Here are a few ways to take advantage of off-season preparation to make sure you, and your equipment, are in top form.
Fine-tune Your Equipment
Tuning your bow can be a tedious process, and it can be tempting to settle for “good enough.” But remember, close enough could be the difference between a great shot and a wounded animal on your next hunt.
Your gear must be dialed in. If you are uncertain, don’t be afraid to visit us to 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. For that one shot, I want to give myself every advantage. So, I want to be sure that my gear is perfectly set up and tuned to make that shot a great one.
The most important tip of all is to get as much practice and experience as you can during the off-season, either in the field and on our range. Incidentally, the Archery Shack is the only indoor range in Lubbock that allows crossbows!
Focus on Form
There’s a reason Tiger Woods is so good at golf… his form. Over the years, he’s built incredible form from muscle memory. The more times you do something the right way, the better you will be and the more muscle memory you build. The same is 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
Animals are smarter than most give them credit. How many times has a big deer just walked right into a clearing, 20 yards in front of you, with a look on their face that says, “Take your time; make your best shot”? I’m thinking… never.
Instead, 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 those long holds now. When you shoot your bow each day, practice holding for up to three minutes (if you can). Pretend like it’s the real deal, pick a spot on your target and imagine like it’s the vitals. Drawback and hold, hold, hold… until you feel like you can’t any longer, and then go ahead and let it rip.
This one tip is a game-changer for your next hunt.
You never know when you will 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, 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 backpack, grabbing your bow, and going for a hike. If you cannot easily access hiking areas, go for a brisk walk with your backpack 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
Most important… Make your off-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.
Ask for Help!
I encourage you to stop by the Archery Shack to ask for help! Whether you have questions on equipment, form, shooting challenges, or you just want to ‘talk shop’, come visit with us. It’s our passion to help you be the best archery hunter you can be, both in the range and in the field.