I'm in a bowhunting funk. There really hasn't been anything going on for me to shoot sharp sticks at. It's almost depressing. Oh sure, I could hunt coyotes, but getting close to to them with a bow and arrow is a pretty tall order. Not that I'm not up to it, but the reality is, hunting 'yotes' is far more effective with a rifle.
Turkey season will be here before you know it, and at that point, I do plan on chasing them with a bow. But, like coyotes, getting a turkey with a bow is a pretty tall accomplishment. I've done it a few times, but those birds can give a guy fits. Turkeys can be more frustrating to chase than any deer I've ever put a tag on.
And there's also bowfishing. I haven't bowfished in a long time. That may change in the near future. I've always enjoyed bowfishing, but other things have gotten in the way of participating. Things like being a parent and having a family, working a job and pursuing other outdoor activities.
Despite that the off-season is in full swing, I won't put the bow away. If anything, it's time for me to step up my shooting to make sure I stay on the money. I'll need the practice, especially when turkey season arrives.
Indoor archery leagues are one way I like to keep on top of my game. We set up trees indoors, animal targets of various species, too, all at different angles and use various lighting scenarios. It's a great way to get in some weekly practice and get out of the house. The friendly competition keeps my skills sharp.
But even more crucial than going out and simply shooting arrows, this is a great time to tweak things in your shooting style.
Form is one thing a lot of bowhunters struggle with. I teach kids each year. When they struggle, it's often due to a problem with their form. And the off-season is the best time to work on form issues.
Form is a simple thing to fix. Always stand with your feet at shoulder-width. Never stand straight, but face the right or left, depending on which hand you pull the string with. In other words, I'm right handed, so I will turn my body to the right, with my left foot ahead, with both feet at shoulder-width. Point the bow down range. Pretty simple right? But what a lot of people struggle with is drawing the bow.
Most people draw the bow by bringing thier bow upwards as they draw in an attempt to get more power to pull the string. When people do that, it means they are pulling too much weight. You don't need to pull 80 pounds to be effective. In fact, heavy draw weights are pointless with todays modern archery gear. If you can't point that bow down range, and pull it straight back smoothly without bringing the bow way up in the air, you are over-bowed. Turn your weight down. Think about it. If you have too much draw weight, not only are you risking possibly hurting yourself, but there is so much extra motion involved when drawing on an animal, you risk spooking it. If you need to hold on to the bow a little longer, you will be able to do so much more effectively with a lighter weight. Smooth and graceful movements are key, and practicing like that each week will make you a much better shooter and hunter
Using a release is popular with most bowhunters. But they require practice. At times, I get a lttle target panic, and punch the trigger. When a person does that, it throws your shot. And who wants that at the moment of truth? Touching the trigger slowly and smoothly where the shot almost suprises you is the best thing you can do. Hold the bow loosely enough, that when the arrow goes off, the bow should be swaying in your hand slightly. Too tight of a grip will cause you to not have a steady aim, and cause your arm to shake just enough to throw your shot.
Standing at a line at an archery range is fine and dandy. But practice sitting down too. If you bow hunt turkeys, sitting is the position you will likely be hunting from inside of a blind. And practice on both paper and 3-D targets for pin point precision, and turn the targets at different angles and various ranges. Guess at how far the shot is, so you will have a better idea what your bow's capabilities are, as well as your judgement in distance.
And finally, don't forget to practice with broadheads when possible, especially if you use fixed blades. Most mechanicals fly just like a field point, but fixed blades often need some adjustments as they tend to fly a little differently. Make sure you figure them out well in advance of the season.
Remember to keep up the practice during the off-season. It's necessary and a lot of fun. Join a club or find some 3-D shoots this summer. Shoot often, and when that opportunity comes up, hopefully all the practice pays off.