Deer season is seven months away? Eight months? Something like that. And yet, after just a couple of months off I am already starting to get back in the groove with my bow. You should be thinking about it as well. To help you with that, here’s a step-by-step program to make sure you are ready to rock when hunting season rolls around. One disclaimer—this program is designed for those of you who are not bowhunting this spring or have early hunts in late summer. It also assumes you are not involved in any competitive archery leagues or head to a local 3D range every now and then, just for grins.
April/May: If you are thinking about buying a new bow, changing arrow shafts, or adding accessories, now is the time to do so. The best place to get all this shopping and testing (you do try out major accessories before buying, right?) is your local archery pro shop. If you don’t have one nearby, it is worth the time and effort to take a day and drive to one. This way you can shoot the new bows, get fitted so the bow is just right for you, check out all the latest accessory items like arrow rests, bow sights, new quivers, and so on, and make sure the bow is perfectly tuned with your arrow shaft/arrow point combination. Doing all this now gives you several months to get used to your new gear and work out any bugaboos long before it counts.
June/early July: Hopefully you have done a little target shooting during spring. Summer is the time to ramp it up. At this time of year I am shooting three mornings a week before I start work. I start slowly, giving my shooting muscles time to get back into shape, often only shooting a dozen arrows in any one session. I am also getting my sight pins set perfectly and making sure everything is in good working order.
Late July/early August: Time to get serious. Again I shoot three mornings a week before work, but now I shoot 3-4 dozen shots per session at ranges between 20 yards and “way out there.” I also now switch from field points to the same broadheads I’ll be hunting with. Step one is to re-tune my bow with the same arrow/broadhead combination I am hunting with so I am sure they are flying like laser beams. It is also a good time to begin shooting at life-sized 3D targets instead of a simple bull’s eye target.
Late August/early September: Time to begin specificity training, which simply means emulating in practice the same types of shots, at the same distances, I think will most likely present themselves during hunting season. For tree stand guys that means getting elevated. For ground blind hunters that means shooting off a stool or from a chair. For spot & stalkers it means shooting from your knees, over, under, and through brush, etc.
Hunting Season: Never stop practicing! While in hunting camp I shoot at least a couple of arrows every day, for my own peace of mind. You should, too.