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Hunting On Instinct: The Traditional Bowhunting Advantage [PICS] [VIDEO]

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Toby Walrath

Using traditional bowhunting equipment under real hunting conditions is an experience worthy of its own reward.

It takes dedication and passion to master the art of shooting instinctively but soon the thrill of hunting with a bare bow will grab your imagination until you make it a reality!

Here’s my Long Bow named “Swampy” in action!

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WHAT YOU NEED

You need a bow that you can draw smoothly and hold for up to 30 seconds without shaking. Long bows, recurves, flat bows and self bows come in all different shapes and sizes. Choose one that suits your comfort and style.

Long bows, flat bows, self bows, recurve bows used by the author Toby Walrath.
Long bows, flat bows, self bows, recurve bows used by the author Toby Walrath.

You need arrows available in a variety of materials including wood, aluminum, carbon and fiberglass. Choosing the right arrow to match your shooting style and species is important. The most important thing to consider when choosing arrows is arrow spine (also referred to as flexibility). The arrows must have the right amount of flexibility for the draw weight of your bow or you’ll never achieve accuracy.

A variety of arrow types are available to traditional bowhunters.
A variety of arrow types are available to traditional bowhunters.

Sharp broad heads are a must and it’s likely that the broad heads marketed for compound bows will not be the right choice. A sharp cut on contact broad head is well suited for slow flight speed bows. Never use mechanical broad heads with traditional equipment and always make sure your heads are sharp!

A variety of cut on contact broadheads used by the author over the years.
A variety of cut on contact broadheads used by the author over the years.

SHOOTING ON INSTINCT

There are two main camps in the world of instinctive shooting; “target” archery and bow hunting. Howard Hill, possibly the greatest archer of all time once told an aspiring archer; “…make up your mind what you want to do, hunt or shoot target; the two just don’t go together.” This advice is as good now as it was 60 years ago.

SHOOTING FORM

The most obvious difference in shooting form between field archery and hunting form is the anchor point. Simply put, the anchor point is the very spot your drawing hand stops at the completion of the drawing movement. Target shooters anchor under the chin to open up the sight window for longer distance shooting. Target shooters may use light arrows weighing in at 5-6 grains/lb bow draw weight.

The author showing the classic anchor point for target archers who typically shoot longer distance and need to open their sight window.
The author showing the classic anchor point for target archers who typically shoot longer distance and need to open their sight window.

Bowhunters will need to anchor against their cheek, positioning the string closer to the eye, making quick shots possible. The bow will also be canted by turning the bow arm slightly. Use a heavy arrow (10-12 gr. / lb. of bow weight) during hunting situations for maximum penetration on game.

Bowhunter's anchor point used for quick and close shots frequently encountered while hunting.
Bowhunter’s anchor point used for quick and close shots frequently encountered while hunting.

THE ADVANTAGE

Traditional bowhunting has several advantages over using modern compound bows.

  1. Fast shooting. Traditional bowhunters can draw, aim and shoot quickly increasing the odds of success when fleeting opportunities are presented.
  2. Shooting off your back. Traditional bowhunters can maintain a lower profile and don’t need to stand upright to shoot accurately.
  3. Enjoyment. Traditional target shooting is fun and hunting with traditional equipment brings the bowhunting challenge to a whole new level.
  4. Aesthetics. A handmade wood bow and natural feathers bring uniqueness and beauty to your hunt while every wood bow has a story and adds nostalgia to your hunting experience.
  5. Reward. Shooting a big game animal with traditional bowhunting equipment is like no other hunting experience.

The quiet intricacies of a longbow with hand made wood arrows married to natural feathers and sharpened steel (or whatever materials you choose) are as invigorating as they are calming and the rewards are as incredible as the challenge.

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Hunting On Instinct: The Traditional Bowhunting Advantage [PICS] [VIDEO]