As many of you know, I am a die hard archery guy. My preference isn’t to take long range archery shots. In fact I love the challenge of closing the distance on animal and knowing that I was able to overcome their senses and wariness to make a shot happen. However, long range archery practice is a normal part of my year round shooting, because it doesn’t matter if you are facing a 10 yard shot or a 50 yard shot, it is imperative that we as bow hunters put in the time and effort to be the best we can be, we owe it to the animals we love and pursue, we owe it to our hunting heritage and to ourselves.
Long range archery practice will not only make you a better shooter but a better hunter, because you will develop more confidence in your routine, your shooting performance and your equipment. So what does long range archery practice look like? Well I can tell you what it isn’t. You don’t just take your bow and start shooting at 60-70 yards. You do that, and you are likely to not only get frustrated, but quite possibly start developing some really bad habits.
Long range archery practice starts with some basics:
- Make sure your equipment is properly tuned, it should be shooting bullet holes through paper, if its not, you are going to be fighting it non-stop and your problems are only going to get magnified as your shot distance increases. So if you are not comfortable tuning your bow, take the time and spend a little money to take your bow to a reputable bow shop (not Cabelas, unless you know they have a world class bow tech on staff) and have them go through your bow with a fine tooth comb, before you start working on your long range archery practice. (For any of you in Eastern WA or Northern Idaho check out
- Make sure you are shooting the right arrow set up for your bow. If your spine is too stiff will tend to veer left, while an arrow that is under-spined will tend to veer right. In either case it can make dialing your bow in very difficult if not impossible. Make sure to take the time and test out different styles of fletching as well as fletch configurations i.e. 3 vs 4 until you find the set up that works best for you and your bow.
- Work on the basics – start at 10 yards or even closer so you don’t have to worry about missing the target. Take your time and simply work on your form, don’t worry about where you hit. Focus on a loose grip, pulling through the shot, developing a consistent anchor point, being surprised at the release and following through. I personally have a shot sequence I go through on every shot, which is draw, anchor, float the pin, pull through the release, stay on target. It is the same every time, consistent shot routine will not only improve accuracy, but will improve accuracy under pressure.
- Once you have spent some time on your form and feel like you have your form dialed in, shoot for string. For this drill you only need to be 10-12 feet from the target, hang a string from the middle of your target like a plum bob, then shoot for the string. This drill will help you see if you are shooting to the right or left, but it will also help you get comfortable with the natural movement and float of your pin so you don’t fight it.
- Each of us has a natural rhythm to our body and how it will move while at full draw. One of the worst things you can do is try to stiffen up your body to hold your pin perfectly still. Instead get used to how your pin moves and don’t fight it and focus on the target. When you get comfortable with your pin movement, have developed muscle memory and developed a consistent shot routine, you will find that all you need to do is stay focused on the target and your body will take care of the rest.
- Slowly increase your yardage – Now that your bow is dialed, you have your shot routine and your form is good, its time to start increasing the yardage. Start at 20 yards until you are consistently stacking arrows, then step out to 30 yards and repeat, then 40 and so on. I will tell you the year I was shooting my absolute best, I was consistently practicing out to 90 yards. Not only did shooting at long range make 40-50 yard shots feel easy, it helped me stay on top of my form as mistakes that show up as a 1-2″ miss at 40 are showing up as a complete miss at 90, so it forces me to be disciplined.
- Have fun – One of my favorite routines is to start at 20 yards and shoot out to 90 yards and then back to 20. The key is I only get 1 shot at each distance, then I have to run out pull my arrow, run back and take my next shot as quick as I can. Not only does this up the pressure, but when your heart starts pounding, it also replicates hunting conditions. Another good one, is to take 6 arrows and put an identifying mark on them so you can tell them apart. You then take one shot at each yardage from 20-70 so you can see how your shots compare. Do each of these drills from a standing position and then kneeling. Lastly, do random unknown yardage shots, this will help you estimate yardage and understand how much margin for error you have with your set up when the moment of truth comes and you don’t have time to tell the animal to stop and stay still while you range him.
Hope you took something from this write up, now get out there and start your long range archery practice as August and September will be here before you know it.
Hunt hard and live life wide open. If you are looking for great archery hunts shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call 509-679-0225