Archery takes skill and practice, but many hunters seem to postpone training until just before the season. Training needs to be at the forefront of your mind throughout the offseason if you want to be confident in your technique and ability. Every hunter may have a different idea of what bow practice looks like, but there are a few main areas to consider, such as frequency, type of practice, and level of difficulty. This year, incorporate them into a documented calendar to prepare for the silver shot, and please don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for archery season. Start early and have a plan. To do this, let’s dive deeper into your training plan to help you achieve bowhunting success.
1. Work with what you have
Planning your practice will vary from person to person. Not everyone has an hour or more to practice every day. Every bowhunter needs to find time in their schedule to commit to their shooting to ensure their shot is ready for the upcoming season. This means not waiting a week or two before the opening day of the archery season.
Not everyone has an archery range in their backyard or easy access to a public archery range, but there are ways around that. Be sure to do everything in your power to train as much as possible with the limited time you have.
Suppose you can access an archery range with all the bells and whistles. Great! If you can only shoot ten yards at home but get access to a bigger archery range every week or two, it’s better than nothing. Get creative and look for ways to improve your shot with what you have.
2. Shoot as often as possible
How often each bow hunter practices will depend on the individual and how much time they have. In this case, more is better. The more you practice your shot, the better your shot will be. It’s like compound interest. At first it won’t seem like you get much out of the practice, but over time the payback will be very noticeable.
Even if the frequency is just baling blanks in the backyard at very close range, it’s better than nothing. Going through your process and feeling your form will be very beneficial when you can access a larger archery range to practice longer distances. Your pre-shot routine is the most critical aspect of archery, so being able to practice even from a short distance can be very beneficial.
If you have the ability to film at home, it is strongly recommended that you try at least 30 minutes a day. Do not rush the practice to try to integrate it. Taking your time and practicing methodically is key – focus on quality over quantity when it comes to training. Training several hours a day may not be the best idea. If you burn out, you might develop bad habits. Once you’re tired enough, don’t push it too much. Get your quality shots, then call it a day. Ideally, it will only take one hit when you are in the pit.
A quick exercise to put the pressure on yourself is to take one shot at a time and spread them out over the day. If you can, take a photo in the morning before work, then once you get home, and then every hour or so until dark. This lets you focus on one shot at a time, and is closer to that chance you have of getting a kill shot at an animal.
3. Change the type of practice and the difficulty
While spending enough time practicing your shot and honing your skills is essential, the type of practice is just as important. Different shooting drills and practice sessions can help refine various aspects of your shot. These vary depending on your equipment and your ability to shoot.
An archer can perform many different types of training, ranging from training with blank bullets to increasing your heart rate or shooting from high ground. Remember the hunt you will be participating in and the situations that might arise. Make sure your practice reflects or exceeds the limitations you may encounter in the field.
Each bowhunter has his maximum distance which he will not exceed in the field. If your skills limit your maximum distance and not your equipment, then don’t be afraid to push yourself during training. This will make it easier to shoot at your maximum field distance during a hunt and you will be more accurate over time.
If you plan to shoot from a tree or other elevated position, incorporate that into your training. It is very different to shoot from the ground or to shoot from an elevated position, fifteen feet or more in the air.
It would help if you also consider the adrenaline rush you will feel when this animal walks in front of you. To mimic this in practice, do jumping jacks, squats, or burpees to elevate your core, then try to land an accurate shot. This great exercise will help you focus and concentrate in big situations.
As you progress through different drills, you will notice that increased distance or an increase in your heart rate naturally makes shooting harder. It’s to your long-term benefit. Taking harder shots in practice will make your medium field shots easier, giving you great confidence in your shot when it comes time to harvest an animal.
There are many, many different ways to practice. If you’re bored and want to spice it up, watch what some of the best bow hunters in the world do for practice. You will be surprised at what you can find.
4. Set your workout schedule (and stick to it)
Simply having a training program in place can go a long way in keeping you in peak condition and ready for the start of archery season. Although establishing a workout schedule is not difficult, it is stick to it it really matters.
As I mentioned, you can always research training regiments that the best archers in the world use, but make sure that the training program you follow is right for you. Remember how much time you have, your facilities, and your goal. I’ve found it really helpful to use a blank calendar (or at least one that only has your important dates and reminders) to plan your workout schedule. This will help you follow the plan over time.
It is recommended that you start practicing vigorously at least two to three months before the start of the hunting season you intend to participate in. As the season draws closer, increase your distances and make your training sessions more realistic for the shots you’ll be making on the field.
Life can be busy for most hunters, but making time to train should be a priority. Do not slack off training and drop when you feel tense on the ground causing you to miss a shot at an animal. Get to work so you’re ready to execute your perfect shot when the time comes.