A good way to keep your archery skills honed to perfection is to go to 3D shoots during the off-season. There you can shoot at archery elk targets that are more realistic than just paper targets. There will be a lot of different species represented by these targets and it is a great setting for a little competition among hunting partners. Below are some of my suggestions to help you improve your archery skills.
ARCHERY EQUIPMENT TUNING
When you get your bow out in the summer to start shooting in preparation for the upcoming elk season, there are several things you need to be looking at. First I check all the hardware for condition and torque. Then I always look at my cams and or wheels to make sure they are in line with the string. If any of them look like they are leaning this can be fixed by twisting one side or the other yoke cable end. Add more twist to one side to make the wheel or cam pull until it is aligned with the string. Timing and alignment issues should be addressed by the technician at your local bow shop, these adjustments need to be done with a bow press. Next I inspect the string for obvious wear. Signs of wear may be frayed or fuzzy looking string fibers or serving separation or unraveling. Next I make sure the bow is still center shot. This can be done by different methods. One way to do it is with a center shot tool or gauge, another is to paper tune. You can make this adjustment in your shop if you use the center shot gauge, but to paper tune you’ll need to shoot your bow. When paper tuning you shoot through a thin piece of paper to see how your arrows are flying. If, the flight is perfect you will see three cuts in the same configuration as the fletching with a hole right in the center. Anything else will need some attention. If, the hole is not in the center of the fletch pattern then that will indicate the direction you need to adjust to. Any adjustments needed in windage will be made by moving the arrow rest left or right.Adjustments needed in elevation will be made by moving the nock point up or down or you can make adjustments to your rest. Now it’s time to sight your bow in. Start at ten yards to make sure you’re on paper then move back to twenty, thirty, forty….. Make any sight adjustments now.
Now that you got your bow shot in its time to hit the archery range and really dial in your sights. With the speed and quality of today’s archery equipment I like to set my first pin at 30 yards then every 10 yards after that. At this point I like to focus on quality performance so I keep my number of shots to a minimum so I don’t get fatigued. I really concentrate on form and follow through to produce the best groups possible. To keep things interesting during practice sessions I like to set up an archery elk target up at my longest pin, in my case 70 yards, and take one shot, then move up to my next pin take one shot and so on. The elk target forces me to aim at anatomy parts instead of dots and the one shot drill helps me focus on making the first shot count. Ultimately that is our responsibility as hunters.
TIPS TO IMPROVE ACCURACY
Practice longer shots than you would take in a hunting situation. This means adding up to 30 yards to your effective range during shooting sessions, doing so will bring out minor flaws in form and follow through. Know the distance. Rangefinders do an excellent job of telling you how far the target is and some models even calculate distance using incline measurements too. Real life scenarios. If you hunt mountainous terrain you should practice shots that are up or down and into the wind just like you were hunting. If you hunt from a treestand shoot from an elevated position or better yet from your treestand. Fine tune your arrow rest. This can be done by what is known as the walk back method. Make a vertical line with a piece of tape on your target with a dot at the top. Starting with your first pin, take one shot,if your first pin is your twenty yard pin, start at twenty yards then go back five or ten yards and using the same twenty yard pin , take another shot aiming at the same dot. Again move back five or ten yards and take another shot at the same dot with the same twenty yard pin. Don’t worry about elevation drop, because this exercise is designed to provide information used to make minute adjustments in windage with your arrow rest. These minute adjustments can be so precise that they are measured in sixty-fourths of an inch. TIPS TO IMPROVE DISTANCE
How far. Rangefinders tell you the exact distance you are from your target. I like to use this information to practice in between yardages as well. That big bull elk isn’t always going to stop at exactly 40 yards. Shoot from a solid position. Kneeling is the most stable position to shoot from especially if its windy or if that big bull elk catches you out in the open. Shoot long distance. Once you get your archery equipment fine-tuned and working properly, you need to spend as much time as you can shooting at 80 or 100 yards. Distance shooting builds confidence that yields big dividends when that big bull elk is standing broadside at 30 yards. Practicing at 100 yards make a 30 yard shot seem simple.
Practice is the most important aspect of accurate long range shooting with any weapon. As archery hunters we need to be honest and realistic about our ability and skill, after all archery is about getting up close and personal with our quarry. An accurately placed arrow at any distance is the goal for a quick and humane kill.