By Alex Comstock
It’s summertime and is a nice night outside. You are just sitting around the house, and decide to go out back a let a few arrows fly. All too many times, the common theme is you shoot for a while, maybe shoot halfway decent, and then head back inside, not really putting much thought into your performance out in the backyard. This summer, start taking your archery skills more seriously, and it just might reduce the chances of missing that big buck this fall.
A High Stakes Environment is the first thing I do to improve my shooting. My reasoning for creating high stakes is simple. Every time you release an arrow at a deer it is a high stakes situation. It's a serious thing to shoot an arrow at a deer, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should work to be the best shot you can, in order to effectively shoot and harvest a deer with no hiccups. To accomplish this, a multitude of things can be done to create and attempt to replicate the intense moment of shooting a deer.
Get all your friends together: Instead of shooting by yourself or with a buddy, get all of your hunting buddies together for some target practice. Shoot one person at a time, and have everyone that’s not shooting watch and critique the shooter. What you're trying to do is create a situation in which the shooter inevitably gets a little nervous, because he/she doesn’t want to be the worst shot out of everyone in the group. You could even create some type of scoring system, and keep track of who the best shot is. Bragging rights usually goes a long ways in groups of friends, so owning those can be a big deal.
Friendly Betting: If you're not able to gather all of your hunting buddies together, but still have a friend to shoot with, have some friendly bets. I’m not endorsing gambling, but by placing some high wager bets with each other, such as the loser has to mow the winners lawn, or paint their house, will ensure that you will be sweating a bit when letting those arrows fly.
One Shot: In most cases, you're only letting one arrow fly at a deer. Not often does a person get to shoot multiple arrows at one deer. Try this at home as well. Go out to your target and limit yourself to one shot. I usually do this more often towards the latter part of the summer, right before season starts. By doing this, it really forces you to concentrate and make that shot count, just as that one shot counts when it is a live animal.
Adrenaline: When the moment of truth finally presents itself and that monster buck is about to turn broadside, I’d venture to guess that your heart rate is significantly raised, along with your adrenaline bursting through the roof. Try and get that heart rate up in the backyard too, and see how you shoot when you’re a bit winded. Take a few laps around the house, and then when you stop, shoot immediately after. This isn’t going to perfectly replicate how you feel in the real situation, but it will help give you an idea of how you may be affected when the time comes for the real thing.
Conclusion: If you're reading this, you most likely love to hunt whitetails. For a lot of us we obsess over them the whole year, and are always looking forward to the time frame when we can actually hunt them. If we're going to take so much time to hunt them, and be serious when it comes to wind, weather, etc., we should also be that serious about our archery skills. The better you can shoot your bow, the more confident you will be when the time comes to shoot that big buck, which will lead to more successful blood trails.