Art Lander’s Outdoors: Training for the archery season is part mental, part muscular


If it’s been months since you shot your hunting bow, now is the time to start training for the next archery season.

Before you start training, make sure your foam target is in good condition, to avoid damaging your arrows.

The best practice strategy is to take it slow. Don’t shoot too many arrows at the start. Ease inside, shooting just a few arrows every other day. At first, train at a short distance, around 20 yards, then slowly stretch the distance as you get into chase form, and the preseason progresses.

Good practice and preparation can mean the difference between success and failure during archery season (Photo By Art Lander Jr.)

Sloppy practice is bad practice. Focus. Get back to the rhythm of archery. Over the pre-season weeks, your mind and body will eventually go on autopilot. Archery is part of mental and muscle memory.

Older archers might consider lowering the weight, the weight of their compound bows, until the muscles are rebuilt.

The accuracy of bow hunting is a matter of repetition, of doing everything the same with each shot, a series of events that must be duplicated in practice, to be performed perfectly on the field.

Here are some tips on pre-shooting routines that will help you shoot more accurately with compound bows:

• Good posture is important.

Face the target approximately 45 degrees, with feet parallel and 18-24 inches apart. The toes should point towards the target, not 90 degrees to the target.

This so-called “open” position has two advantages, the archer is more turned towards the target, and this position keeps the string away from the bow arm and the archer’s chest.

In a hunting situation, when the archer is probably wearing heavy clothing to warm up, the position and form of the shot can make a big difference in terms of accuracy. If the string even lightly brushes your clothes while firing, the arrow will deflect from the target.

• Pull the bow back in one smooth motion.

Foam targets are a great tool for preseason archery practice (Photo by Art Lander Jr.)

If the bow needs to be lifted high for the string to come back past the point of release, you may consider reducing the pulling weight.

Not only can the extra movement of having to raise the bow scare the game off, but when you hit full draw you won’t be close to being on target.

At full draw, you should start focusing on fingering your mechanical trigger and placing your sights on the target, without having to swing the bow to hit the target.

Many archers find that they shoot more accurately when they need to raise the bow slightly to hit the target, rather than lowering it.

• Once the bowstring has been drawn, push your string hand against the side of your face. This is called the “anchor point”. Right-handed shooters anchor on the right side of the face behind their dominant right eye.

Find a comfortable anchor point that more or less aligns your sighting eye with the string.

It doesn’t matter if you choose a high anchor point, on your cheekbone, or a low anchor point on your chin, it should be the same with every shot. This is essential for accuracy.

If getting a consistent anchor point is a big deal, there is a little solution: a kiss button.

Made from flexible plastic, a Kisser button is a small disc that attaches to string and is positioned so that it sits in the corner of the archer’s mouth at full draw, at the point of desired anchorage.

You know your anchor point is right when you can feel that “kiss” at the corner of your mouth.

• If you are shooting sights on your compound bow, and most hunters do, good visibility when aligning the sights on the target is essential for accuracy.

Cobra EZ Slide Extreme Bow Sight (Photo courtesy of Cobra Archery)

This is why a larger diameter rear sight is recommended when hunting with a bow – a sight that has a 3/16 to 1/4 inch aperture. Small aperture sights are more suitable for target shooting.

The first benefit of a larger diameter peep is better visibility of the target (deer), but more importantly, a larger opening allows the archer to align the peep with the round frame of the bow sight. . This creates a sight image similar to what you see with a sight on a rifle, with the bow sight acting as the “front” sight of the rifle.

Line up the peep of your bow with the round frame of the bow sight and place the pin on the target, and you are ready to release the arrow.

• If you are going to hunt from a blind on the ground, be sure to practice shooting from the chair you will be sitting on during the hunt. A swivel chair is a good choice because you can easily and quietly swivel your body to pull through the blind’s many windows.

• Target panic is something all archers must deal with at some point.

It is mainly caused by the inability to relax. You rush the shot, try to aim at the target as quickly as possible, and squeeze the trigger on your mechanical trigger.

A common manifestation is the archer who keeps his finger off the trigger until the last second, then fires it in an instant.

When pulling properly with a mechanical trigger, the trigger finger should be placed on the trigger as soon as full pull is achieved, with pressure applied slowly as the sights are aligned. It is difficult to do effectively, but can be mastered with determined practice and concentration on each stroke.

• Don’t let bad habits creep into their shooting sequence.

A common problem is grasping the handle of the bow when releasing the arrow.

When you grasp the grip, the arrow’s flight is changed from the previous second when the sights are aligned and the decision to shoot is made. Whichever grip you choose, it should be maintained exactly the same from anchor through shot and eventually until the arrow hits the target.

Grab your bow with a relaxed, closed hand. A tight white knuckle grip will strain your entire bow arm and dramatically degrade accuracy. Lightly touch your thumb with the index and middle finger (or two) on the front of the grip.

If you’re worried that a light grip will cause you to drop the bow, fit a wrist sling over the grip for added stability and control.

Weeks of training before the season, and staying sharp by shooting a few arrows during the season, will pay big dividends.

You will be physically ready, mentally relaxed and confident when a shooting opportunity presents itself. Stay focused by following a winning pre-shot workout routine.

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