Archery practice sessions can be boring but don’t need to be
I pulled my archery target out of the shed last week in preparation for some summer shooting sessions designed to set the stage for a successful archery season this fall.
I haven’t yet hauled the Mathews Z7 out of the closet yet; things have been pretty busy around here and my time has been spent on other things, including work. Typical summer stuff has also taken precedence up to this point – camping, some fishing, running our two Labs and hitting the trap range to make sure we drop enough pheasants in front of Finn this fall to reward her for her work in the field.
I haven’t hit the 3-D circuit this year, either, although I truly enjoy taking my hunting setup to a 3-D course and breaking the monotony of a backyard bow shooting session. I mean, how often do you get a chance to shoot at a foam alligator, mountain goat and woodchuck? It’s great fun, and with some buddies along talking trash as you draw, it can help dial in your concentration and prepare for that moment of truth in the treestand.
Sure, I’ll get into a pretty much daily routine of taking the bow out back and flinging at least a few arrows at the Morrell bag. It’s great to work out the kinks in my form (and there always are some kinks, it seems) and dial in my two-pin setup at 20 and 30 yards.
But let’s be honest. If you’re out there on your own, it can get pretty boring. Shoot three arrows, walk to the target, pull them, mutter to yourself, and walk back and shoot three more. I’m usually good for only about 12-15 shots before I start thinking about other things I should and maybe could be doing.
But we need these shooting sessions, and every once in a while I know I should put in a longer shift out back, shooting perhaps 40 or 50 arrows to build up the muscles that haven’t done much. Drawing a bow is a lot different than casting a fly, swinging a shotgun and, certainly, typing on a keyboard.
I do a few things to try to keep myself interested in these shooting sessions, and you should too.
Shooting with a friend always helps. A little competition, a little conversation and suddenly you’ve shot 30 times and your groups are tighter.
I firmly believe a one-shot shooting session is critical, too. That first shot is the one you’re sending downrange toward a whitetail, or maybe even a black bear. You don’t get a dozen warmup arrows before the real deal.
Having a home office offers a distinct advantage for me. I can step outside, release an arrow, and don’t even have to retrieve it until I do the same a couple hours later. Remember, that first arrow is your moment of truth this fall; make sure the first shot of your practice session is taken with that in mind.
If your home is conducive to it, shooting out an upstairs window – with caution – to your target below can simulate a shot from a treestand. I do it periodically, taking the screen out of the window and keeping my feet within a small area – again, to simulate a treestand.
I do other things as well, like seeing how long I can hold at full draw before releasing my shot. You never know; you may have to hold seemingly forever before that buck offers the shot you’re looking for. And it’s another way to build up the archery muscles as well as to determine just how long you can hold comfortably before the shaking begins and you have to let off.
And for me, the simple act of practicing and knowing I’ve put in the time ahead of the season elevates my confidence level when the season begins.
So make the time now and break up the monotony of the solo backyard shooting session by using a few tricks to spice things up. Or head to the 3-D range for some different target looks and some quality practice and just plain fun. It’s time.