There's something a little more real about hunting with a bow. It feels closer to the land, it's a darn sight harder than taking my trusty Remington 700 out. But that's part of the fun. Now I'll admit, when I first started shooting with a bow I was terrible. It's to be expected yes, and while I like to think I've improved somewhat over the years, it's taken a huge amount of practice. I'm going to say this again. If you want to get better at bow hunting, you've got to practice. But there's a smarter way to do it, which is what we're going to cover today. Because let's face it, we all want to improve our accuracy, but mother nature always has other plans in mind. Nothing is predictable in the outdoors. Perhaps it's raining. Or getting dark. Or there's snow everywhere. So windy you can't hear your buddy. Or so calm and quiet every little noise you make sends those darn whitetails bounding off into the bush. To maximize your next hunting season and spend as much time as possible in the field, you need to get comfortable with all kinds of bow shooting. Otherwise, your accuracy on those days when conditions are a little less-than-perfect is going to drop. Here's how I've improved.
Get your bow out in bad weather
No one likes bad weather, but to be successful with a bow you need to know how to shoot in a variety of different conditions. That means if you're only ever getting out to practice on warm sunny days, you're going to have no idea how to adjust when you're facing bad weather. It's painfully obvious, but even I've got a bit of a lazy streak and I am never that excited to go shooting in the rain. Or when it's windy. But by fighting through it, I've given myself an edge over every other hunter who hasn't been practicing. If you struggle to find a place where you can train in bad weather, then make sure you've at least spent a little time shooting in the wind. Generally speaking, that's what you're going to be up against when you're out in the wild. Of course, it's even better if you can force yourself to train in a little snow and rain too, but I get that it's not always possible. What you can train for though, is shooting at dawn and dusk. As the world grows dim and your ability to see starts dropping dramatically, it's when Murphy's law that comes into play. That big buck walks out in front of you, and you need to land that shot. My advice is to spend a little time practicing for these kind of scenarios, so you truly understand your maximum effective range in any condition. Of course, you don't want to only practice in bad weather, as you'll grow to hate bow hunting as you get wet, miserable and cold on every training session. You've just got to build in bad weather training too so you know what you're up against when it actually counts.
Get it as real as possible
Real life isn't like the range, so in addition to making sure you're comfortable shooting in all kinds of conditions, you need to be comfortable shooting at all kinds of distances. There's no point being a dead shot at 15 yards, if you can't reliably hit anything that's out past 30, and forget about anything around 50 yards away. You've got to practice like what bow hunting is like in real life, which means you need to be able to land shots at many different distances. The animals aren't going to come to you, so you need to be practiced at hitting targets at many different distances, and have a good understanding of how bad weather conditions will affect your accuracy at each distance. I'd also recommend finding a space in your yard where you can set up a range of targets and just fire off a shot at different times of the day. This replicates what it's like hunting, as you spend most of the time waiting for the shot, you won't get 15 or 20 attempts at that big buck. You may only get one. Make sure you've got a killer first shot, no matter what else is happening around you.
Don't push your limits
Now let's say you're pretty proficient with a bow. In normal circumstances, you're going to hit the target more times than not, even when shooting at say 50 yards. But this is why you need to practice in all conditions, because when the wind crops up it'll cut this distance in half. You need to know what your limits are, so when you're out on a hunt you've got a good idea of what you're capable of achieving. Snow and rain will make you less stable, and sap your strength, especially as the day goes on. It's normal, but your form is simply going to suffer. In poor light, you may misjudge distances. But here's why having a good understanding of your limits is important. As a hunter I take pride on my abilities. And what I value most is making each kill a quick and merciful one for the animal. The practice and time I've put in learning what I can achieve with my bow in any conditions, at any range, allows me to make a good assessment on nearly every shot I take. I only ever take shots that I know I will make.
Know your equipment
The final step to becoming a better hunter is to know your equipment. You're only ever going to be as good as your equipment will allow. You need a bow that's been specifically designed to handle the animals you're hunting, and while I'm not saying any particular brands are better than the other, if you arm yourself with the right gear, know how to use it, and understand its limitations, you're going to be a much better hunter. Oh, and don't forget to bring your survival grenade
, just in case. There's been too many accidents with people out hunting to not be prepared for anything. And you don't want to become another statistic. Of course, when it comes to bow hunting practice is what makes perfect, and is where far too many hunters fail to excel. If you want to be a great bow hunter, that means you've got to arm yourself with the right gear, and have experience shooting in a wide range of distances and weather conditions so you know just how effective you can be.