Keep Your Cool: Bowhunting Practice Tips

Posted: 07/07/2012 in Archery, Gable Sporting Goods, Hunting, Tips and Tricks
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From North American Whitetail

by Terry Wunderle • July 5, 2012

Effective archery practice involves more than the physical act of shooting the bow. Hunters should visualize a scenario for each practice shot, imagining the pressure of executing a shot in front of a mature buck, if they want to get the most out of their practice. Photo by Mark Kayser/

Imagine yourself sitting in a treestand, anxiously awaiting the arrival of that handsome whitetail buck that has been frequenting the area. Abruptly, the crackling of twigs and leaves signals a doe passing swiftly under your stand. Thirty yards away she halts and peers down the path she just traveled. Then the rustling of underbrush gives warning that another deer is approaching.

The seconds tick away, but soon the “king-sized” deer emerges and stops 20 yards to your left. Any moment he will resume his pursuit of the doe. Can you remain calm, focused and cinch the deal with a clean shot?

As you picture this scenario, what is going through your mind? Are you thinking about how this deer will look on your wall? Are you nervous? Do you want to hurry the shot? Are you afraid that you might not harvest this impressive trophy? Or are you focusing on shooting with perfect form? Your thoughts will play a vital role in whether or not you score.

Every year capable hunters squander thousands of shots executed at 20 yards or less, simply because they are not mentally or physically prepared for the moment. With training and diligence, these shot opportunities can be transformed into success stories.

The physical practice of shooting the bow is necessary for any archer to become effective. Some hunters rationalize that they do not have the time to work with their bows. If this is true, then they should not have the time to go hunting.

Imagine someone offering you a thousand dollars if you could toss a penny into a five-gallon bucket, ten feet away, ten times in a row. Would you practice? Would you concentrate to make sure you tossed the penny the very same way every time? That type of effort and focus is what it takes to be a successful archery shot.

When practicing, totally focus on shooting the same, precise form with every shot. Make sure you pull the bow apart and drive the bow arm directly at the target. Talk to yourself to ensure that you are doing the same thing each time.

Mentally walking yourself through every shot will give you the self-control needed when attempting to take a deer. The mind can efficiently process only one concept at a time. If it is focused on making a shot with perfect form, anxieties about the deer will be reduced.

While working on the practice range, occasionally select a shot and designate it as a trophy whitetail. Picture the big buck standing at the target.

Let yourself feel the anticipation. Then concentrate on producing a shot with perfect form. When attempting to capture a deer, most hunters try to either fine-tune their aiming or else completely forget to aim.

Consider the situation logically. The kill zone on a deer is as big as a volleyball or larger. Now, how hard is it to hit a ball of this size at 20 yards? If you can’t do that, you should not be deer hunting. You should still be on the practice range.

The mental rush when a huge buck appears can be difficult to handle. While sitting in the deer stand, imagine yourself going step-by-step through a perfect shot.

Your mind does not differentiate between mental imagery and the actual event. This practice will help stabilize your thinking if and when the opportunity arises.


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