It’s heartbreaking to release an arrow only to watch the venison you could almost taste run off. The moment might even feel worse if you imagined a sizable buck mounted on your wall. People miss for many reasonsincluding target panic, misjudging the distance, using the wrong pin, rushing or pulling the shot, hitting a branch, an equipment failure or mishap, punching the trigger, the deer jumping the string, or a lack of practice.
Whatever the cause, recovering from the unfortunate moment is paramount to your future success as a bowhunter. The research agrees on the best path forward after making a mistake. In short, you’re supposed to follow these five steps. Here’s how to approach the process as a bowhunter.
You’ll probably experience (or have already experienced) shock, disbelief and disappointment after your target animal runs away unscathed. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling most bowhunters experience or will experience throughout their hunting career. If it happens to you, the first thing to do is to recognize and accept it. There are no takebacks and no point in hiding it from others. Acknowledging what happened will help you regroup, move forward and eventually, move on.
So, you missed and owned up to your error. The next step is to problem-solve and figure out why you missed. Having a clear head can help you determine where things fell apart. Analyze your setup and the situation to determine what went wrong. This may take a bit of guesswork and investigation at first, but with diligence, you should be able to identify your mistake. If you get stuck and can’t put your finger on it, get support and assistance by looping in a hunting buddy. If your equipment failed or you struggled with target panic or the shot process, consult an expert at your local pro shop for help. They can troubleshoot your gear and give you a shooting lesson to establish a productive, effective shot routine.
Once you know what you did wrong, use the missed shot as a learning experience. Every mistake doubles as a lesson. Choose optimism and view the mistake as an opportunity to grow as a bowhunter. You likely learned something about yourself, your equipment, your target species or bowhunting in general. Take the knowledge with you.
Chances are you won’t forget the missed shot (nor should you), but you should forgive yourself for making it. Don’t dwell on or obsess over your failure. Doing so can negatively affect your confidence and distract you from being productive or deadly in the future. Mistakes don’t define you as a bowhunter; they should make you better. In fact, sharing what you learned from the situation with others might help them avoid the same mistakes. Let go of any embarrassment, shame or negative feelings associated with the miss.
You can’t fix the past, but you can plan and prepare for the future. Make an effort to ensure that what caused the miss doesn’t happen again. If you need to get glasses, aim lower, buy a rangefinder, take a shooting lesson, practice more frequently or clear your shooting lanes, do it. You owe it to yourself and the animals you’re chasing to be as accurate and lethal as possible. Clean misses are often easier to overcome than wounding an animal, but neither situation is ideal, and most of the time both issues are avoidable with the right preparation.
Use the Bowhunters United store locator to find a reputable archery shop near you.