One-shot archery practice best simulates your hunting scenario
One of the great things about being back in the Southern Tier is that I’m firmly planted again in the middle of an area where there’s a true bowhunting culture. By that I mean archery hunting is a way of life, a year round passion with a 3-D tournament circuit and plenty of local archery shops.That wasn’t necessarily the case in the Adirondacks. Sure, there were fanatical bowhunters and 3-D shooters, but fewer of them. That makes perfect sense up north, where the archery season is quickly displaced in the Northern Zone by a weeklong muzzleloader offering, followed by the regular season opener in October. That took some getting used to; I felt out of place toting my .270 afield that early in the fall.Down here along the Pa.-N.Y. border, however, bowhunting reigns among the whitetail hunting crowd. The benefits to me are many, not the least of which is when I’m having some problems shooting tight groups I have several folks to turn to who can eye my form and check my equipment to straighten out either myself or my bow, sometimes both. It’s like having a golf pro on every corner to help you work on your game.Admittedly the 3-D circuit, once a regular part of my archery regimen before the move north, hasn’t become part of my regular schedule. That said, I still manage to practice regularly and am picking up the pace now ahead of the archery opener.I’ve never been one of those guys who releases countless arrows each session, choosing instead to keep it to 12-15 or so. Enough to break down the muscles a bit, but not enough to lose my concentration. And, as I do when training a Lab pup, I always end on a high note, with a tight group or one particularly solid hold, release and follow-through.That said, I pay attention to the first shot of the session more than ever. That’s the arrow you’ll be releasing at a whitetail – not one 10-12 arrows into your practice routine after you’ve warmed up a bit.In fact, I will periodically – and this is one of the benefits of working out of a home office in a rural area – step outside with my Mathews Z7 and a single arrow and take one shot, just one, at my bag target. My thinking is I don’t get a three-shot warmup when a deer steps into range; I get one shot. So my one-shot practice routine, which I’ll do several times a day, is an important one leading up to the season.It’s pretty simple, really, and takes just a few minutes. At mid-morning when I need to step away from the computer. Right before or after lunch, perhaps. Later in the day when I toss a load of laundry into the washer. One shot. Maybe at 20 yards, maybe 30. It best simulates a hunting scenario, when you have to deliver the arrow without any warmup. You’re not a relief pitcher coming in from the bullpen. You need to make one arrow count on command when a deer arrives in your shooting lane.Certainly multiple-arrow sessions have their place in developing your shooting form, building your muscles and tightening your groups. But don’t ignore a one-shot practice regimen. That’s the kind of scenario you’ll be dealing with in the deer woods.Too, practice that single shot at varying draw-and-hold times. You could very well be asked to hold for a long time before the whitetail – or perhaps even a black bear – presents the right shot opportunity. See how long you can hold at full draw before releasing. It’s another way of creating a hunting-type scenario.In fact, as I finish this blog I think I’ll step outside a let one fly. Then I’ll get back to work and do it again later.