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Small Game with Archery Helps Prepare for Deer Season

9/9/2013
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With the sun slipping into the western horizon, the fragmented parts of its rays glared through the mature stand of oaks I was silently scanning.  Perched on a decaying log sat a gray squirrel, tail softly twitching.  My range finder read 21 yards and judo tipped arrow found its way to my rest.  Although just a squirrel, I slapped at the trigger and jerked my head away from the string sending the arrow high.

Gray Squirrel ArcheryThe proverbial moment of truth of settling the pin behind the shoulder of a deer is a situation uneasy to prepare for.  While you may have shot hundreds or even thousands of arrows at foam targets throughout the summer, the moment of settling fiber optics on a moving, breathing animal proves to be much different.  Nerves and adrenaline you cannot replicate on the target range see your veins as roller coaster tracks causing you to react in ways differently than your easy shooting pace under summer heat.  Any weather worn hunter knows only the school of experience can teach one how to cope with the sudden surge of adrenaline. 

For archers of all skill levels, hunting small game such as squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits in pre or off seasons can give you a chance to learn how your body reacts while settling the pins on a live animal. Combined with the fact small game make excellent table fare, learning how to control nerves and focus on small targets can be your ticket to a perfect shot on that buck.  From missing the squirrel,  I learned a valuable lesson on how my body wants to react.  Naturally I want to “peek”, lift my head off the string and not follow through on the shot.  Knowledge is power, equipped with that information, I was able to make the right mental adjustments for future big game situations.  Several days later on a redemption trip, a much smaller target ambled into my effective range, a chipmunk.  Having made the proper mental adjustments, the shot was flawless.

While target practice makes perfect, practicing on small game animals can be a fantastic confidence booster, especially for young archers.  Learn you weak areas, increase confidence and have great fun all while building towards sending an arrow through the vitals of a big whitetail. 

Jason Reid

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