Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How Healthy Lifestyles Help Huntresses

By Team Member Jenny Burden
Blog originally posted on Jenny's blog Cowgirls Tri

I pride myself on being an athlete. After several years of physical and mental overhaul I feel I am a strong person who has learned a lot about myself through the pain and perseverance that comes with making it through triathlons, marathons, and all of the other endurance events I've participated in.

When triathlon season closes each year, my next season of adventures is just beginning- hunting season. I've been a hunter since college, starting with waterfowl and other migratory game birds, and eventually began focusing on deer hunting since I'm a big believer in eating what I shoot, and I am just not a big fan of duck!

Last season I took up bow hunting, and with it, added a whole new set of physical challenges to my winter activities. Hunting requires stamina, patience, strength, and fortitude. It's important that, as hunters, we take care of our health in order to perform successful and ethical hunts. Being an athlete has taught me a few lessons that make being a hunter a richer experience.

The benefits of swim-bike-run go beyond race season!

Being an athlete has taught me patience. Training for three sports requires a lot of time-management and the ability to be flexible. Life can get in the way, and so can the weather, but whether giant leaps and bounds, or tiny baby steps, I know that increasing my abilities takes time and as long as I keep it up, I'll get to where I want to be. 6 hour bike rides have helped me learn to manage boredom, being alone with my own thoughts, and taking in the world around me to find peace. All of that is helpful when you're spending hours in the tree stand, or when I have to go out 6 times in the woods before coming back successful!

You don't get better overnight, and you don't get better sitting on your butt.  

Being an athlete has taught me concentration. If you get distracted while riding, running, or even swimming, you lose your pacing, or your power, and miss your goals. If you start staring at the clouds or checking your Instagram on your phone in the stand, you miss a deer walking right by you. I am, of course, sharing these examples from a friend's experience....;) Stay in the game, focus, or your hard work and preparation are wasted!

Keeping my pace, tracking nutrition needs, and ensuring I'm fueled and balanced takes work!  

Being an athlete has given me endurance.  During a hunt, I will typically hike 3 miles, climb a tree, and if I'm lucky, hold a 60 pound draw on my bow, and retrieve, clean, skin, and quarter a deer that can weigh over 100 pounds. Needless to say, being an athlete comes in handy. Hours on the bike, running hill repeats, swimming miles in open water. My heart, legs, arms, and mind are all prepped for the challenges at hand!

60lb pack run in the rain with  my bow or an Ironman? Both pretty hard!

Being an athlete has increased my grit. In my short racing career, have seen great success in perfect conditions, and crushing failure in even more crushing conditions. Hunting, naturally, requires me to be outside, and with the weather in Texas being unpredictable, I can start in the morning with warm sunshine and end the day in sleet and rain. Training for races on my limited schedule with a full time job and social life, sometimes I have to work through those conditions- blazing heat, rain, cold, anything to get the training session in and be prepared for race day.

You work through pain, you work through non-ideal conditions, and your work goes even further. 

Being an athlete has given me dedication. It takes dedication to train, prep, and race any race, and more so a 140.6 mile one. It takes all the lessons from above and more to keep in mind, every day, that the work, the sweat, the effort I'm pouring from my heart and soul are worth it, and then when I cross a finish line, I know it's true, and I want more. Hunting is no different. There is more failure than success, and the work can be overwhelming. However, the returns are always worth it and always leave you wanting more.

It took a few misses before I finally got a hit!

Fresh, grass-fed, organic, and affordable venison fajita salad!

Being an athlete has helped me put it all together. Life as a grownup can be overwhelming. Work is draining, relationships with family take work, bills never stop, and we constantly seek balance and introspective reflection on what we are doing to make sure the life we are living is fulfilling. Being an athlete is an outlet, and a lens to the rest of my world. It is a way to see myself and build my worth in this world as a strong individual. Training and hunting bares a connection to nature, to my food, and to the world around me. My heartbeat is in the outdoors, and my endeavors in racing and hunting help me look both inside and out, and put my life in perspective.

If nothing else, I get to keep being outside even when race season is over!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

#AnArrowADay Wrap Up

By team member Sarah Honadel

Lessons from #AnArrowADay

Every bow hunter knows that hunting with a bow—whether compound or traditional—takes dedication and constant practice. This year marks my fifth year bow hunting, and every summer, I’ve spent countless evenings shooting arrows in my backyard, at my Block target, deer target and bales of hay. The goal: make sure I’ve had enough practice so if and when a deer steps within range, I can make a clean shot. But I’ve never had an actual plan for practicing. I wasn’t consistent with it. I’d shoot for 5 days straight, then not pick up my bow for a week. 

2016 was different. This year, the Huntress View team had “An Arrow A Day” challenge, with the goal of shooting at least one arrow every day during the month of August. 

Here are a few things I learned during An Arrow A Day:

Taking pictures and videos while practicing is beneficial 

Pictures and video help identify consistencies or inconsistencies in your shooting. If you’re having a good day—or bad day—of practice, it’s not easy to see yourself to identify what you’re doing right or wrong. A slight change in posture, footing, stance, etc. can have a major effect on your aim and outcome of the shot. Getting pictures and video from different angles and positions gives you a full view of yourself so you can properly evaluate your shooting. And they make for good social media posts too!

One thing I noticed in my own practice was the placement and movement of my trigger finger. I keep it behind my release trigger until I’m ready to shoot, and then bring it forward and immediately release. This small movement was causing inconsistencies in my groupings.

Know that everyday won’t be perfect
There were several days during the month that I shot one round of five arrows and called it quits for the day. Sometimes you just have a bad day. You might be doing everything technically right, but your mind is somewhere else, so your shooting is bad.

Some people argue that you should still practice because it builds muscle strength. Personally, I get discouraged when I’m really inconsistent and would rather just stop for the day and come back the next day with a clear mind and fresh start.

Shooting doesn’t always go according to plan

When I started the challenge, I had plans to shoot in my camo that I’d be hunting in. Well, that didn’t work out. August is hot in Kentucky. And this year, we had quite a bit of rain, making the humidity almost unbearable. Most evenings, I found myself in a tank top and shorts during practice. Not quite what I’ll be hunting in, but I wasn’t going to let the weather stop me from getting in my practice.

Make time for practice 

I wasn’t able to shoot every day of the month, but I was able to get 25 of 31 days. You don’t have to spend hours practicing. If you have 10 minutes, you can shoot a round or two of arrows. It doesn’t take long; it’s not a huge time commitment. There were several days I knew I wouldn’t be able to practice in the evening, so I shot a few rounds off my back porch in the morning before work (I was even in my work clothes!).

Don’t immediately adjust your bow if you see inconsistencies in your shooting 

If your shooting seems off—maybe too high, low, left or right—it’s easy to start to think it’s the bow, and not you. Don’t jump to fast at adjusting your sights or rests. Again, sometimes you’re going to be off. Stop, and come back the next day. If you continue to see the same inconsistencies, then consider making adjustments.

Change up your practice to keep it interesting 

I don’t have any indoor or outdoor archery ranges or 3D ranges nearby, so I’m only able to practice in my yard. To keep from getting burned out shooting the same thing every day, I have multiple targets to shoot. To make it even more interesting this year, I decided to shoot at apples and tomatoes. Aim small miss small, right?! I did put my actual targets behind these in case of a miss!

My biggest lesson learned: Practice makes progress, not perfection.
I found that my shooting was more consistent by the end of the month, and I had better groups at further distances and had an easier time pulling my bow back. But even with that practice, I know my shooting isn’t perfect. I will continue to practice frequently throughout, and beyond, archery season to continue building upon what I have already learned and the progress that I have made. 

May your arrow fly straight and your aim be true!