As you get ready to hunt in 2012, follow these ten simple steps and you could have your best bow season ever.
One: Take whatever draw weight you are comfortable shooting and lower it a few pounds. For example, I can comfortably shoot my Bow Tech Insanity cranked all the way up to 70 pounds. For hunting season, I lower my draw weight to 65-67 pounds. By lowering the draw weight, it will make drawing back the bow easier when you are in a high pressure situation. Also, by lowering your draw weight, you will have to move less to get to full draw. Finally, you will shoot more accurately if you can hold at full draw without having to struggle for any period of time.
Two: Switch to a single pin site. For 90% of bow hunters, you will never take a shot beyond 30 yards. Learn how to shoot with one pin out to 30 yards. I prefer to use a single pin that slides so I can adjust the yardage beyond 30 yards. I shoot the Boss Hogg by Spot Hogg. The single pin slider style site has limitless yardage settings. Also, by using a single pin site, it makes it easier to focus in on the target area with the distraction of the other pins. Another option which is becoming increasingly popular is a two pin site. The top pin is fixed, while the second is movable. I am a big fan of the new Luminous from VitalX, as well as the G5 Optic XR2. If you use a five pin or seven pin, over half the animal could be blocked out by the pins, making target acquisition more difficult. Additionally, make sure that your peep is the correct size for the site you are using, otherwise you will never be able to reach your full potential.
Three: Use a stabilizer that is at least seven inches in length, otherwise it is nothing more than a fashion accessory and not a useful tool. I prefer to use the nine inch Stokerized SS1. Its offset design provides the perfect balance of weight and vibration dampening. Correctly balancing your bow will greatly aid in holding and aiming your bow motionless before, during, and after the shot. Isolation of all unwanted bow movement should be made effortless so you can relax throughout your shot process. By achieving a superior level of effortless balance, it will greatly reduce or eliminate muscles from getting tense and fatigued and robbing you of accuracy.
Four: Remove the arrow quiver from your bow. I attach mine to my backpack. I recommend you do the same. By eliminating the weight of a quiver full of arrows, your bow is better balanced and lighter. Remember your bow leaves the factory balanced. The more accessories you add to the bow, the more that natural balance is affected. With the quiver attached to my backpack, my arrows are still never more than an arm's length away. During my practice sessions, I will shoot arrows with my backpack on and practice removing arrows and taking a backup shot. When I am in a treestand, I just hang my backpack within easy reach.
Five: Learn to shoot sitting down in a tree stand. By learning to shoot from the seated position, you eliminate excessive and unnecessary movement as game approaches. Furthermore, it is easier to maintain perfect balance when shooting from the seated position than from standing in an elevated treestand.
Six: Shoot a full containment drop away arrow rest, such as the Quality Archery Designs, HDX. The days of full containment bristled rests are long behind us. The bristles tear up fletchings and rob your arrow of valuable speed. Arrow rests such as the HDX fully drop out of the way on the release, allowing the arrow and the fletching to pass cleanly through the bow rest area completely unencumbered. They are also more accurate than their full containment bristled brethren, due to the lack of contact with the arrow fletching.
Seven: Shoot a hook style release. Think about this: why do professional target archers use a hook style release? It is simple: they are the most accurate, most forgiving rests on the market today. I am a big fan of the Tru-Fire Hard Core Foldback Max. The Hardcore's revolutionary free pivoting head consistently self-aligns to the centerline of your release every time for a more accurate shot.
Eight: Shoot the proper draw length. Too many archers today stretch their draw length thinking that the extra speed they gain is worth the risk. Wrong. The extra inch you add to your draw length robs your arrow of forgiveness, accuracy, and ultimately the speed that you were trying to get in the first place. Add a wrist sling to your bow and you will be shooting more accurately than ever before. Just make sure it is adjusted to allow the bow grip to rest comfortably in your hand. This will help to eliminate bow torque.
Nine: Keep your hunting practice sessions short. No more than ten arrows. You will get more out of two or three ten arrow sessions than just shooting 20-30 arrows in one session. Remember: when you are in the woods, you only get one shot, and it's your first one at that. Your practice should reflect that. I take one arrow to the range, shoot it, go retrieve it, and repeat the process five to ten times. I find it helpful to practice not only when the light is good, but also in extreme low light conditions. Once too often, I have found myself face to face with a great animal and it is either just before the end of the day or just after legal hunting light. I also practice with my broadheads year round. I use the 125 grain Helix fixed blade broadhead from Strickland Archery. Its unique design spins my arrows faster, thus resulting in greater accuracy. Remember when shooting during your practice session to maintain push, pull, aim, release, and follow through form throughout the shot. On my practice range I have two elevated stands to practice from. When working with new hunters, we teach them to be comfortable shooting from an elevated position.
Ten: Shoot the best arrows you can afford to. Pick arrows that have a consistent spine. A consistent spine is more important than straightness, though they often go hand in hand. Do not carry a mixed quiver of brands or arrow types. You will never get the consistency that you want. It is better to shoot an arrow that is too heavy rather than one that is too light. While lighter arrows are faster, they often lack enough kinetic energy to kill big game animals quickly and cleanly. I shoot the Carbon Express Pile Driver. It is a heavier arrow that has extreme down range thumping power (kinetic energy). Between my 29.25 inch Pile Driver arrow, at 11.3 grains per inch, and my 125 grain Helix broadhead, I've got 456 grains heading down range at 300 feet per second that translate to 92 pounds of bone crushing, animal thumping of kinetic energy. There is not an animal in North America that I cannot kill and/or blow an arrow completely through with 92 pounds of kinetic energy.
Ok, I know I said ten things, but here are a few little extras that could make all the difference in the world. First, check out the line of HECS products. HECS STEALTHSCREEN is a revolutionary new material that allows you to get closer to animals in their natural, undisturbed state and experience life in the wild like never before. Check out their website for additional details about their awesome product. I won't go into the woods without it, and neither should you. Additionally, do not mix and match camouflage patterns. Pick one with scent control and stick to it. You can add more pieces to your wardrobe each year.
If you do these little things, I am sure that you will have the best archery season of your life. Remember: shoot straight, have fun, and introduce someone new to the sport that we all love so much.