Long Range Bowhunting
The theme is quality. You need accessories that are accurate, rugged, and reliable. There are few things more frustrating than a stretching string, sticky rest, or a sight that slips. Save yourself a lot of headache, start with the best. Iíd have less grey hair if I had!
The other part of the long range equation is the range finder. We simply cannot shoot long range without one. I have tried several, and currently use the Bushnell elite 1500 ARC. The first requirement is to have a bright enough optic to use at twilight, and in the dark timber. Our rangefinder must also measure and compensate for slope. This critical feature vastly narrows our options when choosing a rangefinder.
We now have a fine bow, handy rangefinder, empty wallet, scowling wife, and lonely girlfriend. Now what? Practice. This is good news! Practice is fun. Letís start out taking it easy and just getting a feel for the bow. Just relax and have a little fun. Once weíve got a feel for the gear and have shot a couple hundred arrows, everything should be broken in. Itís time for a trip to the pro shop to get everything tuned properly. Do not skip this step!
The main thing here is to enjoy the journey. The shooting skill required to shoot far will only come with time and practice. Thereís a lot of info readily available on the fundamentals of archery shooting. Iím going to cover a few of the keys I have found most critical. Iíll also share some tips, and ideas Iíve found useful.
- Buy a big target. We donít need the aggravation of losing or ruining arrows. When we start stretching the range, a large target will help us stay relaxed and not start punching the release.
- Grip. I have found it critical to shoot with a relaxed hand. Choose a bow with a comfortable grip. A wrist strap will help fight the desire to catch the bow. Placing only the tip of your index finger on the front of the grip is another way to secure the bow without torque.
- Practice form and develop a feel for a perfect release. I like to shoot a few feet from my target with my eyes closed. This removes shot placement from the equation, letting you focus on feel. This also helps me relax if things are getting frustrating.
- Iíve noticed a tendency to shift my anchor point as the bow rises to compensate for the steep trajectory. Develop a solid anchor. Check each shot to make certain the pin is centered in your peep.
- Focus on a smooth release. I like to anchor fairly hard against the back wall. Stay relaxed, focus on maintaining back tension, and build pressure on the trigger. The pins will drift and orbit the point of aim. The danger is in trying to punch the trigger as the pin crosses or pauses on the spot. This leads to bad habits. It will surprise you how much better your groups are when you stay relaxed and focus on a smooth release.
- If you are wearing a jacket or even a long sleeve shirt, wear an arm guard. You cannot afford loose clothing to interfere with your string or arrow.
Now, letís discuss a few tips and ideas thatíll make us more effective in the field.
- Shoot often. Itís rare a week I donít shoot my bow at least a few minutes. I shoot any way I can. I shoot in my garage trying to hit tiny spots at close range. I shoot in the backyard after dark. When hunting season rolls around I am shooting nearly daily, and have been for months. It really doesnít take long, and is a great way to unwind.
- Work back ten yards at a time. I usually start my practice sessions at forty yards. I work back ten yards at a time. Then, I work forward. Itís amazing how this shrinks your groups. Eventually, youíll be shooting nice groups way back.
- Shoot 3D shoots in the mountains and compete. 3D shoots are fantastic! Shooting eighty level yards is a lot different than eighty steep yards! Shooting in the type of terrain youíll be hunting in, at animal targets, is invaluable experience. Competition adds pressure. Learning to cope with pressure will pay huge dividends in the field.
- Shoot after a run, a workout, and with all your gear on. All these things affect your shooting and your effective range. In the field is not the time to find out your binoculars get in the way or your string!
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