The clock is ticking. Time is just about up. Are you ready for bow hunting? If you haven’t really even thought about nor done anything about it, then, dude, you are way too late out of the chute. There is time to get caught up, but it needs to start like yesterday. 


Get in shooting shape

Unlike gun hunters which I chide all the time about not practicing before the season starts, shooting a gun is a bit more forgiving than shooting a bow and arrow. In this game ranges are relative. It is generally a lot easier to drill a target at 100 yards with a rifle that is properly sighted in. Conversely it is way tougher to tag a deer with an arrow at 30 yards. If you don’t think so, then you should try, because you are not a bow hunter. 

Therefore lots of shooting practice time is needed for bow hunters. Pulling back the pounds of pull on that limb and string does a number of things. Partly the shooting practice regimen is about getting your pulling arm and shoulder in shape. If you have not shot your bow in a while, you may find you have the muscle shakes when you try to hold the pull. Getting in shooting shape is very important. You can only do that if you shoot your bow a lot. 


Gear tuning

If you have not already done so, make sure your bow and related gear and accessories are ready for an active season. Tighten everything up, especially the bow sight to the bow and other hang-on accessories you may attach directly to your bow. Wax your string as recommended. 

Are your bow sight pins tight and bright? Are they straight? Are they dialed in to the ranges you use most? Is the arrow rest in tact and your arrow square to the bow when at full draw? If any of these adjustments seem off, then fine tune them now ahead of your first day in the woods and field to hunt. 

Check arrow shafts for bends. Inspect the fletching to make sure they are glued down from front to back. Same for the arrow nock. Twist the nock in your fingers and if it moves even slightly, then re-glue it. Check broadheads for cracks in the blades. Sharpen them. 


Practice in earnest

Every bow hunter has their own proactive practice routine, but some minimums ought to be in order. Start slow and build up to shooting so many arrows a day until you are comfortable hitting your target at various ranges. Be sure to take practice shots from several different angles, especially elevated ones. Try to set up as realistic practice sessions as possible. It may help to have a life sized deer form target rather than a foam cube target that is less than real. 

I know bow hunters that put their climber stands in the backyard so they can check out the stand again along with their safety harness, but then they can set up targets at different ranges and shoot from high up. This is real practice. A shooting angle from 16 feet or more up a tree is dramatically different than shooting at ground level. Getting practice hauling up your bow and gear is not a bad idea either. Learning to do this quietly takes some practice, too. 

You may shoot most of your practice with field points, but before you finish up each shooting session be sure to let fly with a half dozen shots with real bladed broadheads of the same type and weight you will hunt with. Again this is realism. Blades can shoot ever so slightly different than round tip practice points. Know the difference. 

Another good pre-season tip is to pre-measure the distance from your selected stand sites out to fixed ranges and stake those points. Some hunters use sticks, some tent stakes, others small utility flags of different colors. Use whatever trick works for you. Since bow hunting is definitely a game of range estimation, a little bonus help never hurts. If you happen to own and use an electronic bow hunting rangefinder, then practice with it as well. 

Bow hunting is serious business. Some still argue that a bow and arrow does not produce enough killing power to justify using them on deer. Obviously that is not true, but bow hunters do lose deer. So do gun hunters. Adequate preparation for bow hunting is essential. Get your gear ready now and start shooting. The October bow season is upon us and ready to go. Are you?