Archery Season: Preparing to make any shot
August usually means that most of us are now thinking about the upcoming archery seasons, which means just a month away for us here in Montana! As we start to think about archery season, most of begin the process of getting our gear together and really starting to dial in our archery equipment. This is the time to start getting some good amounts of shots sent down range, and make sure all the moving parts are ready to go for upcoming hunts.
This is a great time to check a few things with your archery equipment and allows enough time to get any problems resolved and working again before the season. It's always smart to get your bow in to a good archery shop with a knowledgeable staff, and have them check all the important components and have them give it a good tune up. Most often this means they will check your string for wear and tear that could cause a bad failure while our shooting. They should also check your limbs for cracks or anything that will cause an issue as you practice shooting. A very critical aspect they should do is to check that the bow is up to manufacturer specs and that the bow is in tune and your arrows are flying true.
Making sure that your bow is tuned and all the parts are working in sync, allows your arrows to fly true and your shots more consistent with tighter groups. A tuned bow will give you more confidence with your shooting abilities as you see your groups tighten up and the arrows hitting their mark more often. A second and very important benefit to a tuned bow, is the flight of broadheads. When your bow is in tune and your arrows are flying true, you will see your broadheads shoot about like a field point.
When a broadhead is screwed on to the front of an arrow, you have essentially put fletching on the front of the arrow. The blades of the broadhead have now become fletchings at the front end of an arrow. So when an arrow is being shot through an out of tune bow, the broadhead exaggerates the poor flight of the arrow. With the blades on the front and exaggerating the flight of the arrow, it is difficult for the real fletchings at the back of the arrow to correct the flight of the arrow. This is why expandable broadheads have become so popular and fly more like field points, the blades are recessed and don't become a new set of fletchings. A properly tuned bow will shoot fixed broadheads just as good as it shoots field points and expandable broadheads. So if you'r having troubles with your broadheads, it is likely a tuning issue with your bow.
Now that your bow is tuned and everything is working in sync, it's time to get shots down range and make shooting come easy and quickly. There is a lot to think about when shooting a bow, and the more you shoot the less you think about the little things and just do them out of repetition. You will find all your anchor points quickly and easily, and get sights on target more quickly. This rewards you two fold when that moment of truth comes out in the field and you are drawing down on that animal that you've been waiting so long to get a shot at.
One last thing to think about once you get out shooting and working on perfecting your technique, is to think about real world hunting situations. It is a rare shot opportunity to be standing in freshly mowed grass and perfectly level ground. Not that you won't try to find the most comfortable spot to set up for a shot, but in the mountains it is usually likely that you'll be on uneven ground. As you practice, try to find ways to shoot on slopes or uneven ground. If it is possible, try to shoot uphill and downhill. Practice shooting from your knees or from a chair, as sometimes thats the setup you'll be presented with during a hunt. Another thing to try shooting with, is a pack on your back. Often you don't have time to take a pack off and you'll need to shoot with a pack on, and this could throw you off just a bit.
So, as archery season approaches, there is a lot to do and think about in regards to your archery equipment. Making sure your equipment is ready and your shooting techniques are practiced and perfected, will make a you a better hunter and will ultimately give you a good clean harvest when that shot opportunity comes along. As you practice, try to think of real world hunting situations and practice those. It's hard to recreate a bull elk coming through the timber and screaming at you, but you can practice shooting from uneven terrain and acquiring your target quickly. There are lot of things at play when archery hunting and it is hard enough to get all those things to happen and give you that shot. With good quality practice with some real world situations, you'll be more prepared for that shot when it does come along! Good luck to everyone out there this fall and stay safe!