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Author: Frank Addington Jr.
Now is the time to break out the archery gear and get practicing!
Got the winter blahs? Deer season seems like a distant memory and turkey season is still too far away for office daydreaming. Well, the sport of archery is a
lifetime sport that can be practiced year around. Why wait until August to
get that bow out? There are a lot of great ways to have some fun shooting
and at the same time improve your chances of bagging a buck next fall.
You can beat the winter duldroms with these fun and simple practice techniques.
As an exhibition shooter I've done a lot of clinics, taught a lot of first time archers, and also worked my share of camps for young people. I have had to find ways to keep it exciting for the kids and also find ways to help bowhunters improve their shooting. I use these methods to teach instinctive shooting but they will also work for sight/release shooters. Try some of these techniques and you'll be surprised at how much you enjoy shooting in the winter/spring months.
First of all, bullseyes can be boring. It is also hard to focus on a
bullseye. I prefer 3-D style bullseyes, but not what you're used to. First
I stick an old arrow in the top of the bale/target.
Next I tie a string on the nock end of the arrow, then attach a tennis ball. This tennis ball does two things---it makes you focus (pick a spot) and teaches you to concentrate. A flat bullseye is too distracting, and a standard 3-D deer target is too big. I want people to learn to pick small targets. After the tennis ball is mastered, then swing it. This is where the fun starts! This will hone your skills like no other practice.
When you master the moving tennis ball, don't think we are finished with the string and arrow yet. After you are hitting the tennis ball on the string, then remove it and replace the ball with a Lifesaver. That's right... the smaller the better. You will be amazed at what this will do for your shooting.
Another neat trick is to take a hair dryer and mount it in front of your
target blowing upwards. Some models come with a base and they will set in an
upright position. Turn it on and then place a ping pong ball on the air
current. It will float about 8" or so above the hair dryer. It will have
enough bobble to make it a challenge. This is great fun and teaches you to
pick a spot and watch it.
Most people have a 3-D target. If not, Cabela's carries a wide variety of targets. If it is safe where you live you can set up a small range in your back yard. Two or three targets can be used and you can shoot at various positions. Be creative. Shoot from a sitting position, from behind a shrub, in any position that might be encountered while bowhunting next fall. Another good way to practice is from a treestand so you'll be used to the angle by deer season.
On your 3-D targets, use a moderate sized balloon on the vital area. This "pop" lets you know you're putting your arrows where they need to be. Most deer are taken at around 22 yards, but you should shoot at various distances so you'll know your limits.
Sometimes people will have a mini-contest to see who can hit the
Lifesaver/tennis ball first. Don't shoot too many arrows into the target
though or you can damage your arrows. Also, don't stand far apart and cross
shaft each other. It's best to just shoot one arrow at a time and take
There are some rules though. Be safe. Don't do anything that would jeopardize you or those around you. If you are a young person have adult supervision and don't use mom's good hairdryer without her permission! Never shoot in an area with people, houses or cars behind your target. This is a must--- never take a chance on human life. Drive somewhere safe if its not safe in your backyard. Most pro shops have an indoor or outdoor practice range, and there are also a large number of archery clubs with practice areas. Your state bowhunting association can point out a range in your area.
If you are in an indoor range and the owner allows, you can use the tennis ball attached to a string. You can also use balloons, but be sure to clean up your mess so that no one slips on the broken balloons.
Archery is the king of sports and they say practice makes perfect. These fun practice techniques can help make sure your shot is right on target next fall!
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