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Practice Makes Perfect

Troy Thomas

Almost perfect.

Almost perfect.

Hunting off season provides the perfect time to tune your shooting skills.

The hunting off season can give you the perfect opportunity to take the time to sharpen your shooting skills for next year's hunting season. Every year, shortly after the bowhunting season ends, I join a indoor archery league. I don’t join for the competitiveness (I'm not trying to be Buck Man) , but for the three months it provides me to work on my shooting skills. We shoot 60 arrows each time, so it’s a great opportunity to work on everything from concentrating to follow through.

So this is what I work on:

First is my stance. I like a “open stance”.  This means I’m turned about a 45-degree, with feetspread about shoulder width apart to the target down range.  You can laugh, cause if you're like me and you hunt from a elevated tree stand, you’ve hardly ever gotten the opportunity to shot a deer with the “perfect” stance”. But yeah, I’m here to work on everything so why not on the stance too?

Second, is my bow grip. I use a open hand. I have a strap on the handle of my bow which helps me have that open grip. Some use a closed grid, but I feel your hand should be relaxed and having a open hand, helps me with this. Also, never shoot with an open hand and no wrist sling!

Third, is to nock an arrow. At this point in the process, I will double check that the arrows fletching is lined correctly. This may seem elementary, but I see experience arteries screw this up time and time again. I shoot a compound bow, so with this type of bow, with a drop down arrow rest, the index vane should be pointing up. Make sure your arrow is nocked between the upper and lower knot of the D-Loop.

Fourth is drawing back. I like to aim towards the sky (at about a 45 degree angle) and as I draw back and drown at the target. I push (the bow) and pull (on the string) simultaneously as I draw back with equal force. This gives me time to think about the next three steps before I shoot. Also, the guy who taught me to shoot, says it also has something to do with physics and this “drawing down” helps keep the arrow and bow from twerking, allowing the arrow to shoot straight.

Fifth is to anchor. The only effective way to shoot well, every single time, is with a solid and consistent anchor position. I shoot with a trigger release (I don’t want to go over every type of release cause each one has a different way to holding it) and I have a kisser button on my string. If you don’t have a kisser button on your bow string, I would advise you to get one. This button, really helps you keep a consistent anchor point.

Sixth to hold and transfer. Here I transfer the draw weight of the bow from my arms and shoulders to my to my back. I really struggle with this step. I still have to think about it, and this takes time, so I start to lose strength here. The bow arm shoulder should remain stationary and I try and pinch my back together like a hinge. My back should be holding most of the draw weight.  Again, this is really hard, but a must to be able to shoot consistently.

Seventh is to aim. Once I feel everything's lined up correctly and I’m relaxed and settled in, I pause for just a second to focus in on my pin to the target.

Eighth is to release. Again, the bow arm shoulder should remain stationary and I began to expand my chest and increase the intensity of my back muscles at the same time. This process will pull my finger into the trigger and release the string. By concentrating on “expanding and hinging” these muscles, it becomes a surprise when the bow goes off. Never “pull the trigger” if you shoot with t trigger release. Surprise is a good thing and prevents “target panic”.

Lastly is follow through. I always over exaggerate my follow through. Over exaggerating the follow through helps keep me from dropping the bow or watching the shot. The release and the follow-through are really a single fluid action. I think of the follow through as just continuing tohold “step eight” for a few more seconds after the bow has gone off.

All this takes place in a matter of seconds, once I begin to draw back to shoot. The beauty of shooting in a league is that repetitiveness, that builds the “muscle memory” for the act of shooting. Because when I’m on stand, and a deer looks like it’s going to present itself with a clean shot, I don’t havetime to think about “the act of shooting”.