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!