With archery season sneaking up fast, many bowhunters are focusing on fine-tuning their shots. Although tight groups and good distance accuracy are a plus, any experienced bowhunter will tell you that it’s the unexpected shot that you have to be prepared for.
You can practice the heck out of your 20-40 yard accuracy and walk away knowing that you can probably shoot the same grouping the next day. Chances are, your target is set up in the same, flat place that you’ve grown accustomed to. But how’s your 30 yard downhill shot? What about that 20 yard uphill shot when the buck comes over the ridge?
The point that I’m getting at is that unless you hunt in a tree stand, you have to be good at shooting in a mixed variety of circumstances. Many wooded areas change dramatically as you hunt. You have to account for slope, cover and even light as you work the area you’re hunting.
Many experienced bowhunters who hunt the woods know that you have to move around to find game. If one spot doesn’t produce, you have to have a plan B, a plan C and so on. I’ve been pleasantly surprised many times in my hunting career. “Surprise” is what I plan for.
One of the easiest ways to practice is to have targets set up in a mixed scenario. If you have a 3D deer target, you can move it around. If you have hay bales etc., you can set them up in a variety of different locations, some uphill, some downhill and some on a slope. I like to set up a target in the most unlikely spot and make darn sure I can hit it. You never know!
Most of us take advantage of the “golden hours” but you never know if you’ll get a shot in the direct sunlight or shade when the sun is high. It happens often, especially if you do a drive. I’ve kicked a bunch of nice bucks out of the brush at 2 in the afternoon. It’s always good to practice for that scenario.
The other thing to practice is shooting in different positions. You’re not always going to get a shot in the perfect archery posture. Many times you’ll be on uneven ground, sitting, kneeling or turning in an awkward position. I was sitting on a rock once when a buck came in behind me. I didn’t have a clue how to shoot from a seated, turned-around position.
Next time you’re out practicing your shot, try a few different things. Walk off to one side of the target and then the other. See if you can hit the kill zone from an angle. Try it from your deck or from down the hill. Stand behind a tree and shoot from either side of it, heck, try everything. You’ll be surprised at how bad your “good shooting” really is.
Many of us only get one or two chances the whole season at a nice buck and most of those chances come when we are least prepared. That’s why it’s called hunting instead of harvesting.
© Accept001 | Dreamstime.com – Targets at a bow shooting range with arrows in them