Keep Shooting During the Offseason

shooting a recurve longbow

shooting a recurve longbow

It seems like nearly everyone in the U.S. has their television turned on the first Sunday afternoon of February. Arguably, there isn’t a greater sporting event to watch than the Super Bowl.

But, just as great of a day Super Bowl Sunday is, the next day is somewhat solemn as the realization that football season is over sinks in. You know you have to wait all the way until September before you have anything to live for.

Just like the football season, hunting season is just as depressing when it is over. So mark you calendars for early fall and start counting the days.

Rather than just crossing off days on your calendar, there is something that pretty much every successful person does — they work hard and put effort toward their ultimate goal.

Focusing on archery hunting, there are numerous ways on how to prepare for the next hunting season. But none better than Shooting During the Offseason.

Preparation for the Next Hunting Season

Benefits of Practicing

child shooting a bow Shooting During the OffseasonFor many, the word “practice” can seem so mundane and honestly it is hard to stay motivated when the pressure is off and hunting season seems so far away.

The truth is, shooting your bow every day or as often as possible will help you immensely and be irreplaceable. Practicing everyday will:

  • build your confidence
  • give you solid anchor points
  • build muscle memory
  • let you fine-tune all the details

When crunch time hits, your muscle memory can take over, leaving you to focus on the more important details such as reading the scenario and making the best ethical decisions.

Not only do you want to be confident with shooting 10-yard increments, but you also need to practice obscure yardages such as 33 yards or 47.  This way, if you are using a multiple pin sight, it is easier to find the correct pins to shoot between.  

Ranging Objects

Seasoned hunters know the value of guessing certain ranges. If the animal walks a few steps between the time you ranged it and pulled your bow back, you want to make an educated guess to know which pin to place on the animal to ensure an ethical and quick kill.

One way you can practice this is to drive some dirt roads and every so often stop and guess how far an object or animal is. Then use your rangefinder to see if it would have been a kill shot or not. It can also be a fun competition if you are with someone else.

The Surprise Shot

An extremely good drill to do, even for seasoned and experienced archers, is the surprise shot. This exercise helps eliminate flinching when trigger excitement is eating you.

Regardless of how many years you have been shooting bows or guns, it seems you still flinch often. This surprise shot helps with consistency and trains your mind to understand that there is no point or reason to flinch.

It is a very simple drill. You just need one extra person with you when you are at the range.

  1. As soon as you are at full draw and your pins are on the target, let your buddy know that you are ready.
  2. In a timely manner, he then stands on your side, reach up and pull the trigger on your release.

It forces you to maintain exact steadiness until the shot is fired.

My wife and I do this quite often, varying the full draw time even up to a minute. Keep in mind that it is called a surprise shot because it will surprise you every time.  

Bow Maintenance

How To Prepare Your compound bow for storage Shooting During the OffseasonThere are hunters who pull their bow out a couple of times before their hunt and call it good. But one critical step is to make sure that your bow is in excellent condition.

After sitting in a case all year, your bow can become out of tune just from the intense amount of pressure it holds. So take it out early and look it over.

Check your strings for wear or fraying, wax them or replace them if you find any reason to do so. Another idea is to take it to an archery shop and let them tune it up. They can check everything on your bow and even adjust your cams if you are having any torque issues.  

The last thing you want is to pull your bow back on a 350 bull elk as it is projects right at you and have your bow string slip and jam.  

Also, test each arrow by flexing the arrow and listen for any sounds. Some arrows can have slight hairline cracks on them so also make sure you inspect each one to guarantee that they do not shatter as you shoot them.

Other things to look over:

  • sights
  • rests
  • peep sight
  • release

Shoot Broadheads

Another great thing is to shoot a broadhead into a target before the hunt. Some broadheads shoot differently and therefore it is crucial to sight your bow in for the particular broadheads you chose.

Some companies have practice heads that you can purchase for this exact purpose.

Shoot with Your Gear on

Anyone can learn to be a backyard archery shooter, but shooting your bow and hunting with it are two different things.

Items such as a binocular case strapped and protruding from your chest can interfere with drawing your bow back. So it is ideal to spend plenty of time deciding what you’ll bring during the hunt and shoot while wearing everything.

This can include:

  • binoculars
  • rangefinder
  • backpack
  • gloves
  • hat
  • emergency pack
  • water bottle
  • anything that can be attached to your belt

You do not want that what you are wearing will keep you from shooting that monster you have in range.

Shoot Fatigued

Hunting is exhausting even if you plan to sit on a tree stand. It still involves waking up in the pitch dark, getting to your location which can include hiking miles just to get to where you want to begin hunting.

You need your body to be ready to shoot when you are extremely fatigued. You need to make sure that even after hiking all day or running to get into position, that you can still pull your bow back and make a clean and ethical kill.

You can accomplish this by shooting at the end of a busy day, shoot after a workout, or shoot multiple times while working out. Also holding full draw for a minute or longer will be of great value.

Keep Shooting During the Offseason

From shooting drills to practicing, it seems that even though hunting season has ended, your lifestyle doesn’t have to. Keep shooting, keep practicing but more importantly, keep doing what you love.

There is a reason that the hunting industry is so big and such a close-knit group — we share the same passion for the outdoors and the adrenaline is tough to beat. All the joy when everything comes together for an unbelievable, memory making, successful hunt is priceless.


Written by Chris Waters.


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