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Good Practice Makes Good Hunting

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect


Good practice makes good hunting. We have heard this all our lives as sportsmen. “You play like your practice”. Is another chant heralded by coaches we have played for from time to time and nothing could be truer than when we are talking about killing an animal. Hunters, especially in today’s climate need to make sure we are doing everything we can to guarantee a quick and humane kill of our game. Nothing makes a hunter sicker than having a wounded animal. The best thing we can do to minimize that possibility is to practice often.

One of the best methods of practice I have found is in shooting 3-D tournaments. Whether for fun or for competition, shooting under the pressure of a contest is as close as I can find of anything that resembles hunting. Shooting life-size targets at unknown distances requires the shooter to guess the yardage, and make one shot at a target while trying to handle the pressure of the competition.

Personally I am a believer of practicing a lot, and then shooting more and more. I try and shoot a minimum of a thousand arrows a week. While this may seem like a lot, one session of practice can have me shooting well over one hundred arrows. By shooting this much it builds muscle memory, strengthens my muscles and forces concentration. So when the moment of truth happens and the buck we have been chasing finally presents a shot, we know that everything that is about to happen is second nature. We have practiced enough that the body and mind are ready for the opportunity. All that is needed is execution.

While I am a big proponent of shooting 3-D targets as stated above, I also like to shoot at bullseye targets. Specifically the five spot targets. These targets are a series of five small bullseye targets on a single piece of paper that fits on the standard foam or bag target, these force the mind to concentrate on one small area of the target and that allows for fine concentration, similar to what is needed when a game animal presents itself.

Methods of practice also can make a difference. If you are going to hunt from an elevated stand, you should incorporate some of your practice from an elevated shooting platform. While this is really cumbersome and can be difficult when practicing alone, it is worthwhile and helps to take some of the guess work out of a shot when hunting for the first time. If you hunt from ground blinds, practice shooting while sitting. In fact, most of my kills from tree stands occurred while sitting. Standing is additional movement that is often unnecessary and I am just as confident shooting while sitting because I practice both sitting and standing.

Lastly, I am a strong proponent of practicing at long ranges, very long ranges. Even if you are restricting your hunting shots to thirty or forty yards, you should practice at seventy and eighty yards. Shooting at long distances require better form and steadiness. Any imperfections will be magnified as the distance is greater. A slight imperfection at twenty yards will miss the bullseye by a fraction of an inch, but that same imperfection at eighty yards can miss the bullseye by a foot or more. Plus I just think it’s fun to shoot at the long ranges and helps take the boredom out of the twenty and thirty yard practice shots.

Archery hunting is a cherished sport and one of high ethics. There is no purer form of hunting in my opinion. As such, we owe it to ourselves and to the animals we hunt to ensure that we have done everything we can to prepare for the moment of truth and are able to make a killing shot when we are given the opportunity.