Practice for real life.
Nothing comes close to the combination of adrenaline, tricky situational shooting, and nerves that come with closing the deal on a whitetail deer. Success or failure for a hunter ultimately comes down to a few fateful seconds. There is little we can do to capture what happens in that moment of truth. And while there might be many ways to practice, only one way sticks out as the best summer bowhunting practice.
I have combined two tools to help me gain some extra bowhunting practice before the season. Those two tools are: 3D archery shoots and obnoxious friends. It’s the best combo I could find.
3D shoots take me through the many scenarios I might find myself in while hunting the woods around my home. Long shots in grass fields, elevated shots, shots where I have to twist my body or crouch down to get the right angle. The targets are different. Some might be whitetails, others might be elk, moose, bear, turkey, pigs, dinosaurs, or zombies. So if there’s ever a hunting season for Velociraptors or flesh-eating zombies, I’m ready for it!
My buddies and I climb the hills and put the time in on the course just as we might if we were hiking to our hunting grounds. The elder gentlemen who swear they’re the best shots huff and puff and get as excited as if it were a giant whitetail in front of them.
Good friends crack jokes.
On more than one occasion at a 3D shoot I have had my bow fully drawn back and had to let it down because someone cracked a joke and broke my concentration. They put pressure on you to make the shot. If you don’t, you’ll hear an awful lot about it. This added pressure is what makes it different from shooting targets any old day.
There will always be pressure on you to make an ethical shot. There will always be external variables that threaten to break your concentration. The key to success is learning how to deal with these distractions. Many times I have felt the annoying tickle of a piece of grass on my ear as I’ve lined up a shot on a target. It may be annoying then, but when I am drawn on a plump early season doe, the mosquito that lands on my ear isn’t so distracting.
My hometown shoot every year lands in the middle of August. The Appalachian Bowmen of Sussex County put on a great 3D shoot. I have attended it every year since I started bowhunting about a decade ago. The fun day afield and the contagious jokes keep me coming back year after year. For me and my buddies, it’s the perfect summer bowhunting practice before another great season of battling Mother Nature.