Hunting seasons have come and gone now and hunters around the country are finding themselves wondering what to do. I know far to many hunters who will shoot their bows daily; just weeks prior to the fall hunting season opener, often wondering why things went array in the moment of truth? Instead I like to use this “down time” to fine-tune my equipment and get things ready and fully equipped for the up coming seasons. Having hundreds of dollars tied up in my archery equipment gives me another reason to continue shooting year round. If you find yourself in this same situation know that there are options giving you good excuses in continued shooting throughout the year.
Shooting year round keeps me and my gear in peak condition. In the past especially when guiding, I have encountered times where my bow was in storage for a lengthy period of time and when I finally decided to shoot again, I struggled getting to full draw. I know from experience that it doesn’t take long for your muscles to weaken falling out of shape. Shooting year round will help void this problem.
Winter Archery Leagues
Many bow hunters join up for an archery league that is good for staying in shape over the off season. Im currently shooting in all sorts of leagues from inexpensive paper to a higher end 3-D animated screen. All our leagues are “team” oriented making for a fun and exciting atmosphere each week. Along with a fun atmosphere my team member and I are able to work on our communication skills; helping when it comes to getting a shot on camera in the fall!
Techno hunts are my personal favorite. Our techno hunt is a 12 week league featuring 20 teams of two shooters, who come in once a week and shoot at a screen from twenty yards. The screen is set up in an enclosed room and plays videos of live animals in real time hunting situations. We shoot at everything from African plains game down to squirrels and anything in-between. The shooter simply aims and waits for the ethical shot at the animal on the screen. Once shot scoring is dependent on how close the shot was to the vitals. In our league an unethical shot is -3 and a perfect heart shot will give you 12 points. “Its realism draws quite a crowd”, says Dan Howard owner of Valley Creek Outfitters. “Its not just the bow hunting experience they get, but the thrills of hunting game from around the world!”
3D summer Leagues
Summer 3D shoots are another option for bow hunters. I find that shooting in these leagues really hones my archery/hunting skills because not only do they requirer good shots in real hunting situations but also require the shooter to judge distance. Typically in these shoots the animals are set up at various yardage’s usually ranging anywhere from 10 to 50 yards. This requires not only a good shot first but a good sense of distance. Lots of courses will be set up in wooded areas giving you real life shot situations. I’ve participated in shoots that have had shots off of tree-stands, out of ground blinds and even flying or moving objects! Shooting a summer 3D league will indefinitely make you a better shot this fall!
I encourage all bow hunters to shoot in an archery league this winter and summer. I promise you will find a huge advantage when it comes to hunting this fall. Remember; practice makes perfect and with the more practice, the better shot you will become – Get out there and have a little fun with your buddies!