Learn to become best friends with your bow this summer and strive to be a better archer in order to be more confident when drawing back on deer come fall.
I love shooting my bow. It's a hobby in itself, and is something I take pride in. Often, archery skills can be looked over during the summer months with so much going on while trying to get prepared for deer season. It's not hard for it to happen. You get so busy and then when you do find time to shoot your bow, it might just be going in the backyard and flinging a couple arrows from twenty yards and calling it good. Don't be surprised if you miss a deer once fall rolls around. Instead, create time to practice and practice the right way, and you will become a better archer in the process.
One way that I have become a more efficient archer is practicing at long distances. Instead of shooting at distances that you plan to actually shoot a deer at this fall, try doubling that. For instance, my effective range with good conditions to shoot a deer is 40 yards. So when I practice in the summer, most of my shooting is done at 70-80 yards. I would never even think about shooting a deer at that far of a distance, but practicing that far will make a 40 yard shot seem like a piece of cake.
Something that I think is often overlooked while practicing shooting your bow is making it high stakes. Think about it for a second, every time you shoot a deer, it's high stakes, no matter if it's a giant buck or a doe. But when you shoot during the summer, it's usually the opposite. It's casual and fun and you shoot great. Except all of the sudden when you've got a deer in front of you, opposed to a target, panic sets in because you've never had any pressure on you before. I try to do anything and everything to put pressure on myself during the summer.
Shooting with all of your hunting buddies and creating a type of competition is something simple you can do. Try to make the competition lively as possible, so you actually have some nerves flowing while shooting. Another thing I like to do is to make a bet with someone you hunt with while shooting. Whoever wins the shooting bet gets to hunt the best stand opening night, or something along those lines. If you don't have anybody to shoot with, something I find very effective is to go out and only shoot one arrow. When your in the stand, you don't have 7 or 8 shots to make it a good one. Usually you get one shot, and that's it.
One of the things I feel like gets talked about the most, but actually acted upon the least is shooting your bow in actual hunting conditions. How often do you shoot at an animal while standing in your backyard while wearing a t-shirt and shorts? A couple times a summer get dressed as if you were heading out to the stand and shoot a few arrows.
This way you will easily be able to tell if there is something you have to modify with your clothes or facemask, opposed to finding that out when actually shooting at a deer. A couple other things you can do is if you have any trees in your yard or have a deck is to shoot off of that or in a tree. Anything to get you elevated and shooting at an angle. Also think about practicing from a chair or from your knees if you will be hunting out of a blind or even from the ground during the season. Don't forget to practice in low light conditions as well. When shooting in low light, sometimes it can be eye opening to find out how much your effective range decreases.
So this summer become best friends with your bow. Become a dedicated archer. Practice how you hunt, and this fall when the moment of truth finally presents itself, you know you'll be ready for it.