Off-season practice is something every bowhunter should take seriously. Doing everything we can as bowhunters to be as proficient as possible is a matter of ethics and respect for the game we pursue. Regularly sending arrows downrange and improving your archery game can also pay major dividends when hunting season begins. Let’s look at five of the best ways to prepare for your best bowhunting season yet:
1. Archery Class
Taking a lesson with a certified archery instructor is a great way to start an offseason practice regimen on a solid foundation, even if you’re a fairly advanced shooter. Practice centered on proper form and shot execution will establish good habits and build positive muscle memory. Remember, there’s always room for improvement.
2. Hit the Range
If you’re looking for a place to shoot in a relaxed environment, your local archery range might be the answer. In practice sessions at the range, you can work on drills and techniques learned from earlier archery lessons or build good habits through repetitively making solid shots. During range practice you’ll also become more familiar with your gear: the way the bows grip fits in your hand, the precise alignment of your sight pins, and the feeling of a perfect shot as the bowstring is released.
Can you put a target in your back yard and practice at home? If so, visit your local archery shop to learn more about the types of targets available and how to set up your very own practice range.
3. Field-Archery Fun
Interested in adding a little more excitement to your practice sessions? If so, you’ve got to check out field archery. In this sport, archers walk a predetermined course, typically through a wooded environment and often in a small group, while shooting targets at distances of 10 to 80 yards. There are three different types of targets to shoot, and animal targets add realism while teaching you to identify the vital areas of different species.
4. 3-D Archery
Take off-season practice to the next level with 3-D archery, which is similar to field archery but with foam, 3-D animal targets. 3-D courses offer shots that are similar to those encountered while bowhunting. You’ll find shots at uphill and downhill angles, as well as elevated positions that mimic treestand hunting scenarios. Practicing with 3-D targets is also one of the best ways to learn where an animal’s vitals are and how shot angle affects accuracy. Bonus: shooting a round of 3-D with a group of friends isn’t just important practice – it’s also a whole lot of fun.
5. Virtual Hunting
Yes, it’s really a thing. Some archery pro shops offer virtual hunting options for indoor practice that’s as close to a real bowhunting situation as you’ll find anywhere. Virtual hunting systems like those from TechnoHUNT and DART project real-world hunting scenarios on a large screen, requiring bowhunters to think fast and make well-placed shots when an opportunity is given. Special blunt tips provided by the archery pro shop are used instead of field points. The system records and displays where each arrow hits, providing valuable feedback. If you’ve never shot a virtual hunting simulator, you’ll definitely want to add it to your off-season practice routine. If you’re new to bowhunting, the real-world situations that virtual hunting mimics can help you better understand shot angles and shot placement, and prepare you for the adrenaline rush you’ll experience as a bowhunter.
Whether you’re preparing for your first bowhunting season or your tenth, off-season practice is a must. Being as proficient as possible with your bow will increase your odds of success and ensure you’ve done all that you could to deliver a quick, humane kill to the game you pursue.
There are so many fun and effective ways to get yourself ready for the season. If you have questions or are wondering where to get started, just visit your local archery shop for personalized advice and professional service.