Archery Practice…Time to Double Down

Summer Scouting for deer in Illinois As a young man who was fascinated by archery, I could always find the time to shoot my bow.  It did not matter the time of year or the weather outside I just loved shooting.  This eventually led me to shooting competitively in the summer months as a teenager.  Many weekends were spent with buddies piled up in pick-up trucks or mother’s vans headed to 3D shoots around the state.  As I got older my desire for competition decreased and so did the time that I had to dedicate to the sport.  My love for archery eventually gave way to work, family, and other hobbies.  Now, the only remnant of archery in my life is my passion for bowhunting. The struggle with this is…How do I remain an effective archer when not shooting year-round?

Although my shooting abilities have remained stable throughout the years, I will admit that every summer I feel a little rusty when I start shooting again.  My form is always a little bit off, my anchor point seems unfamiliar, and my release is a little “punchy”.   Even if the arrow finds the intended mark, my comfort level and confidence definitely need a boost.  The only way to work these issues out is through repetitive motion or, as some would say, muscle memory.  The goal before you climb your tree stand for the first time is to be on “auto pilot” when your quarry comes within range.  The last thing that you want is to have to think about what happens next in your shooting sequence. The way to try and accomplish this is through “two a day” or even “three a day” practice sessions.  I like to keep my shooting sets around a dozen arrows. If I shoot any more than a dozen arrows at a time, I feel that fatigue will start to play a role in my accuracy and have potential side effects on my form.  So, choose to have shorter sessions more frequently.  This will allow you to repeat that First Shot more often before settling into a groove.  As we all know the First Shot is the most important one.

Big Buck Standing in a Food Plot in Pike County, IL The most important thing to remember when utilizing this method….is to pay very close attention to every detail of your shooting. Repeat every single shot the exact same way.  If you wiggle your nose a little before your shot, make sure you wiggle your nose before every shot.  If you find yourself getting sloppy in your regiment stop shooting.  The only way to get on auto pilot is to repeat the exact same steps over and over.  After a month or so of doubling down on practice sessions you should feel really comfortable in your abilities.  Once the season begins try to continue these sessions as frequently as possible to retain that vital muscle memory.  There is no substitute for accuracy when hunting whitetails.  If these methods don’t work for you then find something that does.  If you want to be successful, you must be able to capitalize on the moment of truth.  Shoot straight!

-Corey J. Wilkinson

Last Updated: July 26th, 2023

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