Bow Hunting | Summer Bow Practice Priorities
Among the most important things that a bow hunter can do in preparation for the season is not only to prepare their equipment, but to prepare themselves physically for shooting strength, stamina, and accuracy. Accuracy is key to an ethical shot and a successful hunt. Being physically fit, shooting a perfectly tuned bow, is the textbook recipe for success. With opening day being less than three months away in several states, now is the time to make sure your bow hunting equipment is up to par and to start physically training for the season. There is no worse feeling than not having the confidence that you and your equipment is prepared on opening day.
Where to Start
Inspecting your equipment is the first place to begin. Make a physical inspection of the condition of strings, bow riser, cams, arrow rest, fiber optics, stabilizers, and vibration dampeners/suppressors. If anything looks worn or needs to be upgraded, now is the time to do that. Many archers perform their bow maintenance, but the majority of bow hunters use a bow technician to work on their bows. Taking your bow to the archery shop as early as possible will ensure getting it back with plenty of time to practice shooting it while physically preparing for the season. Once the bow is tuned, the timing rotation of the cams are in sync and the center shot alignment is paper tuned, the bow can be added to bow practice.
Objectives for Summer Bow Practice
Physically preparing for the season has three key objectives: gain strength, improve shooting technique and form, and enhance accuracy. Form issues need to be addressed during bow practice such as torquing the bow, punching the release trigger, dropping the bow arm, not properly seating the bow grip in the V of the hand, and not allowing the bow to roll forward with the shot.
Pay attention to shooting form. If you are having issues in shooting true and you don’t have someone to critique you, you can video yourself shooting. Using Nock Out lighted nocks can allow you to see the flight of your arrow and placement on the target.
Gaining Strength and Improving Form
The areas that an archer will want to focus on are the upper back, latissimus dorsi muscle, posterior deltoid, lower traps, biceps, triceps, wrists, and abs for core stability. All of these areas have an importance in archery. A weak back will cause strain on the rotator cuff. A weak core will cause strain on the back. Practicing with poor posture and weak muscles will cause sloppy form resulting in overuse of joints. The overuse of joints will eventually cause joint inflammation and ultimately injury. To improve the range of motion in joints, it is important to proceed at a pace that will not overuse any muscle to exhaustion.
There are several exercises to strengthen and develop the muscles important to archery; these exercises can be done without having to join a gym and with minimal time involved. Physical training should start well before ever drawing a bow for the first time in practice. This is recommended for heavier draw weights that an out of practice archer cannot comfortably pull after storing the bow since last season. An exercise that is recommended for working the deltoid, triceps, biceps and the latissimus dorsi is the push-up. An upright reverse pushup will strengthen and stretch the upper back and latissimus dorsi muscles and the pectoral muscles. This upright reverse pushup can be performed by standing in a corner, facing the wall and placing the right hand at shoulder height about 10” from the corner and the left hand in the same manner on the left wall. Lean into the corner as if you plan to touch your nose in the corner. Slowly press and hold. The muscles you feel stretching and the muscles that you feel scrunching together are the same muscles used in archery, and more so, for a back tension release.
Nock Out lighted nock Pro Willi Schmidt of Pure Hunting has recently supplied a hunting workout playlist. These workouts are geared towards preparing your body for hunting!
Check out his full blog here! – Western Hunting Workouts
There are various other exercises and stretches that will strengthen and develop the muscles important to archery that can be found with a little research online. Yoga improves stability, strength, and balance for archers and can be found on the Internet. For simplicity, search for the exercises for the gym equipment and location available to you.
Using Archery Tools
There are several archery aids on the market to assist bow hunters in preparing for the season, increasing draw weight, strengthen the bow arm for a steady aim, perfecting an anchor point, and a smooth release.
The AccuBow is the most realistic archery training device available that not only offers draw weights from 10 to 70 pounds, but it also incorporates a laser for honing in on precise stability and accuracy. The AccuBow has a release adapter for use with any style release, and the AccuBow can be dry-fired over and over without harming the bow or archer. This training system not only increases strength, stability, and stamina, it ingrains mind-muscle memory. The archery training device replicates an actual bow incorporating a bubble level in the riser and stabilizer adapter for proper form. The ergonomic and ambidextrous grip makes this training device available to all archers.
The Firing-Line is a release training aid that simulates the draw and release of a bow string. The compact device is designed to practice the perfect release, time after time. This device doesn’t aid in strengthening and stamina, but it does help train for stability, accuracy, and mind-muscle memory important for a smooth, effortless release. The draw length is adjustable from 24 inches to 32 3/8 inch draw by positioning the slide handle on the tube. The Firing-Line release aid is the perfect training aid for those bow hunters who suffer from target panic or punching the trigger.
Archery and Summer Bow Practice
There is no better conditioning than actual practice with a bow. The best bow practice in preparing for archery season is drawing your bow. This should never be done with a bare bow. Always practice with an arrow nocked and standing in front of a target to safeguard against dry-firing, causing damage to the bow or injury to you. Drawing the bow, holding the draw for a minimum of 15-30 seconds, let the draw down, rest for double the time you held the draw. Increase the length of time held as needed. Doing this exercise for 30 minutes equates to shooting 100-125 arrows.
Once an archer can safely and comfortably pull the draw weight of their bow, it is time to start shooting arrows down range. It is important that the archer is not over-bowed; this occurs when the archer pulls the draw weight with marked resistance. This will cause fatigue, poor form, and frustration which leads to bad shots. Proper form and repetitive shooting will further develop the muscles in the back and shoulders ingraining mind-muscle memory for a strong draw and consistent anchor point. Always stretch out the upper back muscles, deltoids, and triceps before any bow practice. Flexible muscles will ensure against injuries, inflammation, and muscle fatigue.
If a bow hunter wants to increase their draw weight, it will be easier to do so after they have become comfortable and physically fit with their bow practice. The archery aids mentioned above can be used in conjunction with physical bow practice in efforts of conditioning for a heavier draw weight. Always keep in mind that increasing draw weight should be done slowly and only to the point that the archer is never over-bowed.
In the months leading up to opening day, the confidence that a physically prepared bow hunter has will go a long way in planning a successful season. The earlier a bow hunter gets started in physical preparation for the season the more confidence they will have when that important moment comes when they are at full draw with that trophy animal standing broadside in front of them.
If you plan on taking your bow practice to the next level check out Nock Out Lighted nocks. With the practice mode, you can now stay technical and shoot your hunting nocks without wasting the battery. Check out the video below!