Perfect Practice: Elevating Your Archery Hunting Skill Set
By: Brandon Wikman

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We all know that practice makes perfect—but taking your archery skills to a higher level takes perfect practice.

There’s no telling what situation or scenario you’ll find yourself against while in the forest or field. The ‘unscripted’ is truly nature’s beauty and beast. Hunters have fantasized the idea of grunting a mature buck into a broadside position ten yards from their perch countless times – in reality, it’s the immediate quartering away shot before he bolts or the white knuckled, nail biting, last second prayer we encounter before our buck-of-a-lifetime vanishes behind brush. There is no storyline to this fairy-tale other than expecting the unexpected.

Simulating unique scenarios and injecting a hint of realism into your archery practice will morph your talent, enhance your confidence, and prepare you for the dynamics you will encounter on judgment day. Maximize your shooting capabilities by raising your ‘pin’ to a new level and shrinking your bull’s-eye to laser point focus.

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Splicing arrows into my Big Green Target may elevate my archery mechanics, but it won’t make me any better of a hunter. Do you remember the last time you shot archery outside? If I were to guess, I’d say that you were practicing somewhere around the 15-yard mark, standing straight up, feet perfectly squared to the target, and you held back your bow until the last gust of wind mellowed before your easy release. Now ask yourself, when was the last time you killed an animal that came into chip shot range, by himself, and stood broadside waiting for you to release? It just doesn’t work that way often enough.

Taking your archery practice to a higher-level is an essential building block step in your killing abilities. Dedicate time to create your very own mock-hunting experiences that you can share with your friends and family. You may want to implement tree stands, ground blind stations, and moving targets. There are endless opportunities and a mixture of fun situations to mock. It is a great way to increase your accuracy and boost your overall shooting confidence. Below you will find a few tips that help increase lifelike hunting situations in your practice regimen.

High-rise:
If you plan on hunting from an elevated position, practice from treestand level. Shooting your bow from a deck or a gentle sloped rooftop will mock your average treestand shot. This will give you a firsthand perspective of what angles you’ll be shooting from once season begins.

Place your archery target in an assortment of positions. Tweak your angles broadside or quartering away to create natural challenges. This will give you the opportunity to slip your arrows into the correct crease and kill pocket during crunch time.

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Take a Knee…or Two:
I never thought of practicing shooting from my knees until I ventured to eastern Colorado last fall and stalked monster mule deer with my bow. This tree-less praire of muley paradise was my wakeup call and proved impossible to take a simple standing shot. Belly crawling hundreds of yards, inching through tall wheat fields en route to a nearly hidden tine was an experience never to be forgotten. There was not one time we stood up and walked toward deer – neither will you.

Once we got within range, it was time to forget how cold and wet your hands felt from the snow, or how much your knees ached from clomping through bumpy fields. It was time to make the kill.

It takes a smooth and silent draw cycle and an immediate decision to align your pin on the buck’s vitals and let carbon fly before he busts you. Always be sure to carry a trusty rangefinder when hunting open fields or vast landscapes; objects in view may be closer than what they actually appear. My Halo rangefinder is always strung around my neck to give me the confidence that I’ll need when analyzing distance.

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Take a seat:
Shooting a bow from a seated position can be difficult. You are against several variables that may deter your shot. The bottom cam kicking up dirt, weeds, or bumping your kneecap will toss an arrow off course and out of bounds – not to mention the extra strength it takes to crank the string back and hold the bow steady. Sitting against a tree and using it as a natural blind while turkey or elk hunting is a must when using string and string.

Last spring I shot a turkey using my bow while playing peek-a-boo with a gobbler behind a huge oak tree. As the gobbler walked into my decoys, all I had to do was draw and quickly slink an arrow into the back of his tail fan. He pompously strutted into my setup and once he turned away, I killed him.

Like many of us, I’ve had just as many good hunts go bad and some just plain raw, but you’ll never know when you have to take an awkward shot at an animal.

Creating the most realistic practice will ultimately build enough confidence and experience to make your shot count when the moment of truth surfaces. Practice these different kinds of shooting forms and key in on perfect practice to help you on your adventure.
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