August 04, 2011
Archery is like any sport, the more you practice the better you get. As far as I'm concerned good shooting is fifty-percent mental and fifty-percent preparation. For me, the mental part is directly linked to confidence. If you know your bow, your setup, and are a confident shooter you never have to worry about psyching yourself out. You will also know your personal limits and this is super important. Every shooter has their own limitations and it's up to you to find out what those are.
Decide what type of game you will be hunting and determine the size of the vital zone. Practice with this in mind and try longer distances, as you become a better shooter. Always remember to push your own limits in practice. I may not ever shoot 70-yards but I like to practice there to see any flaws in my shooting and it also helps boost my confidence on those nice easy 20-yard shots.
When determining your personal limitations also remember weather can play a big role in the field. I may be a good shooter at 60-yards on a calm day but if the wind is howling 50mph my little 250-grain arrows will sail off target by the time they reach 60-yards, so in this instance my max distance may only be 40-yards. It's not that I can't hit 60-yards, but under these conditions my equipment may not perform correctly.
One way to help with understanding your limitations in weather is to get out and shoot when the weather turns cold, windy, or rainy. Sure it may not be the most comfortable of situations to shoot in but it will help you this fall. By shooting in these conditions you not only can see how your equipment shoots but you can also see how you hold up. You may find that with your warm clothes or rain jacket its nearly impossible to draw or that when you get to full draw your face mask is right in the way. It's much better to find this out in practice and make changes than find it out when a big bucks is broadside at 20-yards. Don't forget to put your safety vest, binos, face mask or anything else on you may be wearing while hunting. Even things such as grunt tubes hanging around your neck can get caught in your string, so make sure you have a system to keep them out of the way.
Lastly, when shooting make sure you're releasing in a timely fashion. What I mean by this is once you get to full draw, get anchored, and shoot. The real deer won't stand there forever like your GlenDel buck so you need to be prepared in a timely fashion. If you always wait 10-15 seconds to make sure everything is perfect in practice this could really throw you off when you're hunting and need to make a quicker release. In the end any practice is good, but since you're out there you might as well get the most out of your time!