I wonder how many people got into archery the same way I did—more as an afterthought after first enjoying years of hunting with firearms. For years whenever bowhunting would come up in conversation, I’d say I planned to try it someday while silently thinking I’d never have enough time to become proficient. And with guns, I would always be able to put tasty game meat on the table and have at least a few trophy shots to share with hunting buddies. Nearly 20 years passed before I admitted my bowhunting friends were as busy as I was yet they somehow found the time.
Around this time, American Hunter readership surveys showed that almost 50 percent of our readers were bowhunters. It was time to get in the game. Almost overnight I had all this enthusiasm as I recalled my archery days in 6th grade gym class. I knew I could get a leg up from my big-time bowhunting buddy Phil Phillips, one of the friends who suggested I give it a try all those years ago. Once I started flinging arrows, I had the archery bug and had to admit the very challenge I’d sidestepped for years was now driving me to the sport. And it’s that same challenge that fuels my passion to continually hone my skills so I can chase every species possible with a bow.
My leg up ultimately paid even more dividends when I married my instructor last June. Clearly, I take this archery thing seriously. And now I can say that after years of chasing big game with rifles, muzzleloaders and shotguns, my biggest whitetail and elk ever came with a bow—but it’s not because suddenly I’m suddenly some bowhunting expert. While I’ve acquired a few skills, some of which I’ve learned the hard way, there are incredible bonuses that come with bowhunting as bow seasons lend themselves to more—and often better—opportunities for taking mature game.
If you're new to archery, you’re in for a life-changing experience. When you meet more seasoned archers at the target range, don’t worry about practicing in front of them. Trust me: You get over things quickly when you have no choice. Once you start shooting regularly, you’ll get there like I did.