Practice Like You Mean It
by Ted Lund
One of the best ways to increase success during hunting season is by taking advantage of the off-season to sharpen your skills—especially if you enjoy hunting with compounds and crossbows.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean just zeroing in on targets in an air conditioned range; the most successful hunters usually practice in
ways that replicate hunting conditions and scenarios because—as we all know—things seldom go according to plan.
But what are some of the best ways to practice for that shot of a lifetime?
Jake Hout is a research and development engineer for TenPoint Crossbow Technologies. When he’s not developing innovative new products to change how sportsmen enjoy archery and hunting, you’ll find him getting ready for next bow season. Hout is a big believer in developing—and sticking to—a consistent off-season practice regimen that closely replicates situations likely encountered in the field.
That starts with making sure you’re practicing with the same setup—in season-ready condition—that you’ll be hunting with.
“You want to make sure to inspect the cams/wheels, cables and string, or any other parts that might wear over the course of a season before starting your off-season prep,” says Hout. “Make sure everything is in top condition. You want to practice just like it’s open season.”
Next, Hout recommends zeroing in your crossbow and sight in fixed, controlled conditions.
“Ideally, for the most accuracy, you’ll want to do this on a bench with fixed targets,” says Hout. “This is going to give you the most control over accuracy when you start encountering variable conditions associated with the field and real-life hunting conditions.”
Once you’ve got everything in working order and dialed in at a variety of distances, the next step is designing a practice routine that mimics some of the more challenging aspects of your hunts.
It’s hard not to get excited when you see that buck of a lifetime walk into range. A good way of helping minimize the X-factor of buck fever, however, is by practicing with an elevated heart rate.
“The best way to practice shooting when you’re excited is to take a practice shot with just one arrow from any distance,” says Hout. “Then jog to retrieve the arrow and return to your shooting position. This gives you the advantage of a mini-workout, while also developing accuracy with the blood flowing and heart beating.”
Another area that replicates the realities of the hunt is the challenge of shooting from various positions in a treestand.
“That presents a challenge that you can’t replicate on a traditional range,” says Hout. “A simple way to avoid getting complacent and used to the challenges of taking shots from a stand is to do just that; set up a treestand with targets at different distances and angles.”
Different types of targets can also help in the practice regimen.
“I highly recommend 3D-shoots,” says Hout. “They are a great way to improve your judgment of yardage while also allowing the shooter to become comfortable with a wide range of realistic scenarios.”
Sharpening your basic yardage skills is also a good investment during the off-season. Hout recommends getting a ball, rangefinder, pen, and pad.
“The simplest method is throwing the ball and estimating its range, then writing it on the pad,” says Hout. “After recording your estimate, use the rangefinder to determine the actual yardage. Then record and compare.”
Repeating this process over the course of the off-season will help sharpen your ability to accurately estimate yardage.
Practice during the off-season might not make you perfect, but it will help you develop the confidence and consistency needed to enjoy successful hunts over a long season. Plus it helps pass the time while you’re waiting for the season opener.
For more tips on how to get ready for next season, check out TenPoint Crossbow Technologies and Wicked Ridge Crossbows. TenPoint is a world-class manufacturer of archery products recognized as the industry standard for safety, precision engineering, durability, performance, and power. Its affiliated brand, Wicked Ridge Crossbows, provides the outdoorsman with high quality, precision performance crossbows that are simple, reliable, and affordable. For more information, visit www.tenpointcrossbows.com or www.wickedridgecrossbows.com. You can also follow both companies on Facebook and Youtube.
Original Source; Sportsmans Lifestyle.com