Bow Practice | T-Bone’s Tips On Shooting Your Bow This Summer
Bow hunting is a lifestyle, not just a hobby. A lifestyle which encapsulates more time, money, and effort that we admit to every single year. It is a lifestyle of falling in love with the challenge. You have to love pitting yourself against all odds to get within bow range. When your hobby is one of the toughest and most frustrating activities on the planet, all other issues either at home or at work don’t seem to disappear. While it is a distraction from the every day, bow hunting still requires some level of attention to be proficient at this lifestyle. Bow practice in the offseason is our chance to get it right in order to reward ourselves with satisfaction during the hunting season. Watch below as T-Bone discusses offseason bow practice answers some of your questions, and gives some tips on getting ready for hunting season.
T-Bone’s Tips and FAQ on Bow Practice
Question: Do you successfully take very many long range shots in the field with a bow and do you practice these shots in the offseason?
T-Bone’s Answer: “ If we don’t have to shoot those distances in the field we don’t want to. Hopefully, I never have to take a shot over 30 yards. But if you are hunting an unscripted critter, you have to be prepared for anything…yes, we do practice extreme distances, I have one of the 4 x 4 outdoor Morrell targets at the house that I shoot out to 100, 120 yards. One its fun to shoot that far, but two, it builds you confidence at shorter distances.”
Question: Do you still get buck fever, and what do you do to settle your nerves in the field?
T-Bone’s Answer: “I don’t like calling it buck fever, but yeah I still get anxious and I still get excited. To calm my nerves I like to visualize myself back in my yard shooting at the Morrell Bionic buck like I have 1000 times before. Pick a spot, even one specific hair on the critter rather than looking at the critter as a whole.”
Question: Do you practice with 3D targets during the offseason and do you ever compete in 3D archery tournaments for fun?
T-Bone’s Answer: “Absolutely I do! I don’t get to as much as I used to, but that’s where I cut my teeth actually. That’s the closest you will get to shooting the real thing without having to get your hands bloody. Even if you don’t shoot 3D tournaments at least get yourself some 3D archery targets. It helps you get the vital and size reference of the animal.”
Question: What is your favorite animal to bow hunt?
T-Bone’s Answer: “I gotta go with the white-tailed deer…because it is so diverse on how you hunt it across the country.”
Question: Do you shoot your bow a lot during the offseason and do you have a practice regiment you follow when the season gets close?
T-Bone’s Answer: “Yes I do shoot my bow quite a bit during the offseason…a couple times a week, I have an indoor range at the house and an outdoor range. If you’re not lucky enough to practice regularly at a range, simply shoot inside, in your apartment, in your basement, just get the repetition and muscle memory down…As the season gets close I like to shoot fewer shots. Rather than saying practice makes perfect, I say perfect practice makes perfect. Rather than shooting 60-70 arrows, just shoot three arrows. Take three shots and pour your heart and soul into those three shots.”
Other Offseason Bow Practice Tips
It is practice season and while some may loathe the waiting period before being able to sit in a tree, this is just as much a part of deer season or elk season as the actual hunting season itself. The preparation is a part of the journey and learning to love getting ready will only make the fall sweeter once it arrives. This is the time to learn your equipment and yourself. The last thing you want is to have to guess as to where your arrow is flying when a big buck or bull is standing downhill at an odd distance. To know your gear is confidence. To not know your gear is unethical. There are two parts to preparing yourself for the coming season. First, you want to take care of your gear to make sure it is in perfect tune. Second, As T-Bone mentions in the video, you will want to expand your practice techniques to replicate as many scenarios as possible for the moment of truth.
The Bow Tune Checklist
We live in an era of specialized hunting gear. You reach peak performance when your archery gear is specifically tuned to your needs. As you look to begin practicing make sure to complete the following bow tuning check list:
- Optimized draw weight
- Optimized draw length
- String check
- Limb Check
- Cam Check
- New arrows
- New fletching
It has probably been months since you last shot your bow and before you begin flinging arrows again at foam it is important to make sure your bow is totally optimized for you. Review your draw weight. Is it too heavy or too light? Do not try to shoot more weight because you think you need to. Too heavy of a draw weight will lead to improper shooting form. Improper form will greatly diminish your ability to hit a target accurately, especially on a cold mooring in the deer woods. You will know if your bow is set too heavy if you A) have to point your bow to the sky to draw. B) Turn your head into your arm to draw. C) Struggle to hold it at full draw. Your optimized weight will be what feels most comfortable to you and allow you to draw without much thought. Always seek a bow technician’s assistance to raise or lower your draw weight.
Checking your draw length is another overlooked aspect of off-season optimization. An improper draw weight will also lead to poor form and low accuracy. If your shoulders feel crunched and your chest is caving in when you are at full draw, then you probably have too short of a draw length. If you find yourself leaning backwards to try and look through the peep sight, your draw weight is too long. Your torso should be perfectly linear and not lean one way or the other. You can find your draw length by measuring your wingspan and dividing by 2.5. Your archery technician will be able to help you with this and make the proper adjustments to your bow to meet your specifications.
Bow Integrity Check
Checking the integrity of your bow before each practice season is a must. Check the limbs for any cracks or signs of weakness. A defective limb can be extremely dangerous and lead to injuries. Hoyt bows are dry-fire tested 1,500 times to ensure quality and durability. Always check the cams for dents and dings that have damaged the aluminum and could be harmful to your string. Regardless of the lab-tested and field-proven results of any bow, check your bow constantly and seek help with any concerns you may have.
Strings and cables wear-out after a few seasons of use and should be monitored with each passing week. If you shoot heavily you will need to watch for where the string comes into contact with the cams or string guards. A worn-out string will lead to accuracy issues. When in doubt, check with your technician to see if your bow needs new string and cables. While these can get expensive you should always invest time in maintaining the health of your string by always using proper bow string wax. First, rub wax into the string with your fingers and get the wax inside the fibers of the string to lubricate the strands.
With today’s synthetic bow string materials wax prevents the fibers of the string from rubbing together and fraying which shortens the life of the string. Keeping bow wax in your case is vital since water and varying temperatures are not good for strings; two elements which are synonymous with the rigors of hunting season.
Check your arrows for damage. While most arrows are damaged at the fletching, which is easily remedied, check the carbon shafts after every hunt for impurities caused by going through brush or over rocks. A damaged arrow won’t fly straight and that defeats the purpose of shooting an arrow. Use protective cases at home to shield the arrows from harm while sitting on the shelf in the long winter.
Now that you are ready to hit the range and get ready for the season, a great way to prepare is to compartmentalize your approach to the game to optimize yourself for success. Create a practice check list to follow. Much like an exercise routine in the gym having a practice regiment to follow throughout the summer months will pay dividends to come November.
Archery Targets Replicating Real Scenarios
The right target and regimental practice can make a huge difference! Your target and offseason practice should allow for:
- Mechanics Training
- Angle training
- Woods training /3d
- Broadhead training
- Adrenaline replication
First, pick the right mix of targets to work with. Morrell targets offer a wide range of targets to give you exactly the tools needed to get dialed-in. The Back to Back Combo Archery Target from Morrell help you sight-in and consistently train your mind to “pick a spot’ when putting the pins on a target. These repetitions are key and should be followed up with a life-size deer target. Especially with vitals stenciled into the target regardless of your skill having this simulation helps make your mind more comfortable with aiming at a live deer in the fall.
If you are looking for a new archery target this year, with the features listed above, be sure to check out the new line of Morrell Targets at Walmart!
Mechanics are a large part of shooting accurately or inaccurately. The frustrations we feel in our own inability to hit a target comes down to the way we break, the way we hold our bow and the way we release the arrow. Focus on improving these areas as you shoot. Many shooters fail to recognize how oxygen distribution in the circulatory system can help create a steadier shot. Find the breathing techniques that work for you to help you stay steady through the shot. Ask yourself if your grip torques the bow or not when shooting? Ask yourself, if you are slapping at the trigger or are squeezing it slowly through the shot? All of these habits are correctable if you first identify the issue and want to correct it.
Shooting Tough Angles
Shooting at angles is something we do not practice often enough despite the fact we shoot angle all the time in the wild. The wild is not your back yard and you are not wearing shorts and a light t-shirt shooting in flip-flops on flat surface. Practice from elevations with a life-sized deer target with the vital prints to give you an idea of where your arrow flies at different distances and angles. This is a key part of your practice season regiment that should not be overlooked.
Shooting Your Broadheads
If you are an ethical archer, you are probably not shooting field points at deer. No, you shoot broadheads and should practice with them well before the season. Modern broad heads fly with much more consistency than in past decades, but the bow speeds are faster as well. Practice with your broad heads to ensure they fly straight especially when shooting fixed-blade broad heads. You may have to make small adjustments for your broad heads which you want to know about well in advance of the season, not at the moment of truth. The new G5 DeadMeat broadhead has recently revolutionized this key offseason task. The new broadheads actually feature a Ballistic Match Point (BMP). These field points are a ballistic match to the broadheads, meaning you can practice with confidence that your broadhead will hit it’s mark!
Do you suffer from buck fever? Do you struggle to control yourself and make shots when the adrenaline is flowing? We all do, even after years of hunting big deer, the excitement is still there. You can replicate the heart pounding action and trying to shoot right in your own backyard. Some hunters will doc short sprints then shoot or pushups before taking aim to get the heart pumping. How does your body react? Can you hit the target at all? Combining exercise with pressure-packed events like shooting 3d events can help you adept and overcome pressure by understanding your mind and body and how you can work to handle them when a big buck walks by your stand?
Failure to plan is a plan to fail. This work isn’t really work, merely effort in the activity we cherish. This lifestyle becomes a habit and good habits reap the rewards. Make your checklist of habits you want to master, write them down and execute your plan.