The Daily, The Field, The Woods, Thoughts

Winter archery makes us better shots

Indoor archery shooting gives hunters practice all year.

Many people from all over the state have told me they shoot in an archery league to stay sharp during the winter. Others  have developed other rather ingenious ways to conduct winter practice.

The primary function is to shoot enough to pick up the bow, draw, aim and shoot without feeling any discomfort. Stay away from shooting of any kind for a month or more, and the bow often feels a bit heavy or uncomfortable in your hands. The trick is to stay comfortable with a bow all winter.

My basement has a 25-yard archery range in it. I can shoot every day if the mood moves me, which it often does.

This allows me to shoot all winter.

Shooting a few arrows makes the bow feel five pounds heavier than it really is, and the back and shoulder muscles get sore easily. Shooting is the best cure for any of these problems, and it makes accurate shooting much easier.

If a person just has no place to shoot, they can still draw their bow and develop some strength training. Here are several examples of things one can do during winter months to stay comfortable drawing a bow.

A buddy does his shooting out in his cavernous garage. A target is set up at one end of the garage, and he can shoot at distances from 15 to 25 yards. Of course, on a bitter cold day, five or six shots is about all he can handle. He needs a small wood stove inside to make shooting warmer and more fun.

Another friend has a 17-yard archery range in his basement. He is talking about cutting a hole in the wall which would allow him to shoot at 25 yards, and it would more closely simulate shooting from an enclosed hunting blind.

Practice at shooting while sitting or standing.

He practices standing up and sitting down while shooting, and this is good. As a rule, he normally shoots while sitting. He can don some fairly heavy clothing similar to what he would wear for December hunts or he can wear lighter clothing to simulate shooting in October.

Still another gent I know does shoot some, but he walks around his house, comes to full draw, centers the sights on the nearest light bulb, telephone or drawer pull, and he finds it is excellent practice. Of course, he doesn’t release the string, as in a shot

Most people when they draw on a deer have to fiddle around a bit to get their sight pin on target. All of that uses up time, and if the buck is walking away, it makes people hurry. When they hurry, they usually make a mistake and take a bad shot or miss entirely.

Not this guy. He practices all winter drawing an empty bow and concentrating on putting the sight where he wants the arrow to go. He works hard at it, and when he is shooting he will do the same thing with an arrow on the string. The bow comes up and back, and the arrow is on its way. This only comes from perfect practice.

Look at your situation & determine what you can do.

Such practice makes target acquisition quick and easy. He always nails his anchor point, and if he is on his anchor point and the sight is on the target, a twitch of the finger on a release sends the arrow downrange to where he wants it to go.

Practice can take many forms, but it’s important to become somewhat committed to handling your bow during the winter months. I shoot as often as possible, as I follow my no-nonsense method of drawing, achieving my anchor point, aiming and shooting.

It gives me the daily practice that I need, and the result is that when it comes time to shoot a deer during bow season, I am ready. My muscles are tuned up, my eyes are sharp, and when I hit my anchor point, a slight adjustment tweaks my aim and the arrow is gone.

Many hunters wait until two or three weeks before the season opens, to start practicing. It’s better than nothing, but the people who are the finest shots practice shooting on a regular basis.

Their muscles are all peaked out at a comfortable draw weight, and their eyes automatically center on the aiming point, and all it takes is to touch the trigger, and the arrow goes where it should. It’s simple.

That’s why good hunters practice all winter.


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