Don’t commit the faults of uninformed bowhunters, and avoid this mistake for better chances at filling your tags.
When summer begins to fade and the countdown to hunting season begins in earnest, most hunters begin making their preparations from the fall.
For some, that means placing trail cameras and scouting territories; for others, it means confirming permission to hunt on different properties from friends and acquaintances who own land; and for all, it should mean heading to the shooting range or taking out the target and shaking off the summertime rust.
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Indeed, it’s easy to let your shooting skills slip a bit throughout the winter, spring, and summer seasons every year. While so many of us would happily and proudly describe ourselves as “hunters” to our friends and family, the fact is that the actual hunting only applies to a small portion of our fall schedules every year.
Beyond that, we retain our “hunter” designation by reading about the sport, talking about it tirelessly, and always planning ahead for the season – no matter how far away it is.
But a lot of stuff goes on in the summer, from vacations to baseball games to days spent out on the lake, and it can be hard for even the most die-hard hunters to find a time to shoot.
As a result, when a hunter pulls out his or her rifle or bow in the late summer or early fall, it can take a little while to build up comfort and accuracy with the weapon again. For instance, a bowhunter may be having so much trouble that they have to expend all of their focus on simply hitting the target from a simple standing position.
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Herein is where most bowhunters make their biggest pre-hunting mistake. Sure, getting accurate and comfortable shooting your bow again is important, but the standing position is just one of many positions that you may find yourself shooting from when you get into the woods later in the fall.
You may have to shoot while lying down, or from a sitting position; you may have to shoot while leaning around a tree; you may have to shoot from all manner of angles and positions, and practicing your marksmanship from only a single position will leave you ill-prepared for the challenges that hunting season will present.
Particularly, too few bowhunters spend ample time shooting from a kneeling position before taking their weapon out into the field. They think that, since kneeling requires similar shooting form to standing, it is one of the less pivotal positions to practice with any great frequency.
This is flawed thinking: while shooting from a kneeling position does require the same basic form as shooting from a standing position, that fact often proves more of a detriment to shooting accuracy than anything else. Since the shooting forms are similar, shooters tend to defer to muscle memory when they fire from a kneeling position.
In other words, they’re shooting with the same form and angle as they would if they were standing, only they are shooting from a foot or two below where their standing shot would be placed. As a result, bowhunters shooting from their knees tend to shoot low.
To correct this problem, bowhunters simply need to practice from a kneeling position. Don’t adjust your shooting form, though: if you change your form when kneeling, muscle memory could dictate that you change form while standing as well, and you will have another inaccuracy problem on your hands.
Instead, prepare the shot as you would if you were standing, then angle your arm up enough to compensate for the lower vantage point.
Once you’ve found the arm angle that allows you to hit what you’re aiming at, lock it in and memorize it.
You’ll be thankful you did when you have to take a shot from a kneeling position in the woods and don’t have to go home explaining that you, for some reason, shot too low.
If you have any other suggestions for mistakes to avoid when bowhunting, share them in the comments.