Perfecting Your Bowhunting Practice
By: Brandon Wikman

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Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Improving your archery skills to a higher level takes time, effort, and focus. The summer is a perfect time to break out your bow, set out targets, and hone your skills before opening day.

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There are no pre-written scripts or guidelines in the world of whitetail. They do what they want, when they want, and how they want. Mature whitetail’s that deem trophy status make that very apparent. Just think about the last few big bucks that you killed with your bow. Did everything work absolutely perfectly? Did the buck follow your imaginary screenplay that you dreamt up? The answer nine-times-out-of-ten is no.   

In the field, there’s no telling what situation or scenario you’ll face. The endless hope of having a buck walk past your stand broadside at 10-yards and pose for your arrow doesn’t present itself often. It’s the sudden quartering away shots and last second opportunities we must practice to be ready for anything. Mocking different situations and tossing realism into each scenario will make your archery practice worth every single shot!

Before initiating a successful execution, you must take visual, mental, and physical rehearsal to the nth degree. From the chalkboard, into a brief walk through, to a full-fledged contact training, it takes a bit of experience to fully grasp the moment of truth. As hunters, we must do the exact same in preparation to evolve our shooting skills to their maximum capabilities.
 
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I absolutely love shooting my Big Green Gamer Target. However, firing arrows into the target at a mere ten paces won’t make me a better archer, especially when you don’t challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and set your pins and goals on different styles and techniques that will pose more of a challenge to your shooting and hunting abilities.

Your Backyard Tree Stand

Before you begin hunting from a tree stand, you owe it to yourself to practice from an elevated position. Shooting from a deck or gentle angled rooftop will mock your average treestand shot. It provides you with a knowledgeable reference point of shooting angles and perspectives that you may find yourself facing once season begins.

Often times, I place animal targets in several different standing positions. Broadside, quartering away, as well as several other unique angles that mock situations in the forest and field. By practicing these shots, you will feel much more confident slipping your arrows into the correct crease or pocket of an animal.
   
Seeing Eye-to-Eye

I never thought of practicing shots from my knees until I ventured to eastern Colorado and stalked monster mule deer with my bow. This tree-less prairie of mule paradise was my wake-up call and proved to be impossible to take a simple standing shot at anything. Belly crawling hundreds of yards, inching through tall wheat fields en route to a nearly hidden tine was an experience never to be forgotten.

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Once we got within range, it was time to forget how cold and wet our hands felt from the snow, or how much your knees ached from clomping through the fields. It was time to make the kill.

It takes a smooth draw from the ground with your back hunched over to win 25% of the battle, then another 25% popping up from the field. Once you managed to do both within a 5-second time frame, it’s time to align your pin on the buck’s vitals and let carbon fly before he busts you!
    
Take A Seat

Shooting a bow while sitting down is difficult, because of several factors that may deter your shot. The bottom cam kicking up dirt, weeds, or even smacking your kneecap will toss an arrow off course. Not to mention, the extra strength it takes to crank the string back and hold your bow steady. Sitting against a tree and using it as a natural blind while turkey or elk hunting is a must when using a bow.

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Making your archery practice regimen the most realistic sessions will increase not only your awareness, but also your confidence in the woods. Practice these different kinds of shooting forms to help you on your next hunt.
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