Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Off-Season Bowhunting Practice

Practice in your hunting clothes to simulate a more realistic situation and identify potential problems before the season.

By Bob Humphrey

Archery season is still a ways away, but that’s no reason to slack off.  Keeping your shooting muscles in shape will help make you a better shooter come fall.  And it’s also a great way to while away the days until fall.  Here are a few ideas on how to stay in shape and be ready for the early bow seasons.

Simulate Field Conditions.  Most folks practice by shooting at a square target on an open range and level ground.  That kind of practice will only go so far in helping you in the field.  Substitute a 3-D deer target (or whatever species you’re hunting).  If you hunt from a tree stand; practice from a tree stand.  If you hunt in thick cover; practice in thick cover.  If you hunt sitting down; practice shooting from a seat.

Practice estimating distance.  Range finders are helpful, if you have time to use them.  Otherwise, you’ve got to be a good judge of distance.  Have someone toss out four-inch-square blocks of styrofoam or ethafoam around your practice stand at various random distances; then shoot at them.   Or, shoot from various, random locations.

Practice in your hunting clothes.  Practice with your face mask, if you hunt with one.  You’d be amazed how much your shots can differ with and without.  Also be aware of how bulky clothing could affect, or even interfere with your shooting.

Don’t forget fundamentals.  Practice makes perfect, but you can also learn bad habits. Remember the mantra: pick a spot, breathe, squeeze and follow through.  Squeeze the trigger on your release aid - like a gun, it should be a surprise when it goes off.  And concentrate on holding your sight on target after the shot.   Don’t try to look around the bow to see where you hit.