Being a good shot can help make you a more ethical and successful bowhunter. But precise, consistent accuracy is no accident. Let’s discuss a few ways to sharpen your skills and shoot more bull’s-eyes.
Check Your Form
Flaws in shooting form can make archery difficult and frustrating, but if you master basic form you can become an excellent shot. Those basics include a consistent grip, stance, posture, bow arm, anchor point, release and follow-through for every shot you take.
Watch the Bowhunting 360 video “Basic Compound Archery Form” for guidance, and then relax and focus on your form. Before long you’ll be shooting more bull’s-eyes.
If you’re still struggling, work with a coach or certified instructor for one-on-one instructions.
Taking lessons from a certified instructor ensures you learn to shoot safely and correctly. Decide if you prefer private or group lessons. Both deliver great information in fun, relaxed settings. Plus, these pros break down the step-by-step process of bow shooting. Private lessons provide more individual feedback, which usually ensures faster, more impressive results. Most shops offer lessons. If not, their staff can refer you to an instructor.
Join a League
Most archery shops have weekly leagues, especially during hunting’s offseason. These shoots help maintain and improve your skills. Some shops offer leagues based on age, gender, equipment or shooting styles. Therefore, you can join a 3D, couples, youth, senior or bowhunter league to shoot with those sharing your approach to the sport.
Friendly competition pushes everyone to hone their skills. Plus, your peers can act as accountability partners, encouraging you to show up and achieve your goals. If you want to become a better shot, you’ll more likely succeed if someone holds you accountable. For more reasons to join a league, read “5 Ways Competitive Archery Makes You a Better Bowhunter.”
Shoot a Tournament
Tournaments are a great way to learn techniques and hone skills. The more you shoot, the better you’ll become, especially when shooting under pressure. And because tournaments keep score, you’ll see yourself progressing as the season unfolds.
Tournaments offer many opportunities to compete, but bowhunters often prefer 3D events. Shooting life-size 3D targets helps bowhunters practice shot placement and shooting angles on deer, bears, elk and other game. It’s fun, effective practice for bowhunters! Read the Bowhunting 360 article “The Bowhunter’s Guide to 3D Archery” for more information.
Complete a Course
If you’re new to bowhunting, you’ll probably have to pass a hunter-education course before you can hunt. If you’re a veteran hunter, it’s probably been a while since you took the bowhunting-education course. These classes are great ways to learn strategies to become a more lethal bowhunter.
Bowhunters must know where to aim on animals at different angles to ensure quick, humane kills. Bowhunter-education courses teach bowhunters where to place ethical shots, and when to pass on shots, depending on whether the animal is broadside, facing away, quartering away or quartering toward them. Click here to learn more. Watch this video to learn what to expect from bowhunter-education courses.
Strengthen Your Body
Archers should be strong and healthy. Strengthen your arms, core, hands, chest and shoulders to draw your bow more easily. The stronger you are, the more weight you can pull and hold. Heavier draw weights unleash more speed and power to make arrows fly more flatly to your quarry, and then drive broadheads more deeply into its vital organs.
Being strong enough to hold your bow at full draw helps you wait for the best shot. Read these tips and exercises to help you get into shape. As you gain strength, increase your bow’s draw weight. Cardio exercise, such as hiking and running, are also great ways for bowhunters to prepare themselves to hunt big country. Cardio workouts also lower your resting heart rate, which helps you perform in high-stress situations.
Strengthen Your Mind
Elite archers know mental training is crucial to success because shooting requires focus, consistency and calm nerves. Set goals and envision your arrows hitting the mark. Optimism and concentration instill discipline and self-control.
To shoot consistently, especially under pressure, follow a mental checklist each time you draw your bow to shoot. Those steps include drawing to the same anchor point, checking the arrow’s flight path for obstacles, and identifying which pin to use on your multi-pin sight. A mental checklist forces you to slow down, focus on your shooting technique, and eliminate problems like target panic.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice regularly to stay sharp, focused and tuned into your equipment. Repeating the same actions, motions and techniques develops muscle memory and consistency.
Whenever possible, practice as you would hunt. If you hunt from treestands, practice shooting from elevated positions while wearing bowhunting clothes. As cold weather settles in, practice in heavier, bulkier clothing. Practice at different distances to learn your effective range and reliably judge distances without a rangefinder.
Practice makes bowhunters proficient. Follow Bowhunting 360’s “Summer Practice Guide” to improve your accuracy. The harder you practice, the more prepared you’ll be.
Visit an archery shop to test your skills and become a better bowhunter.