By Mark Kenyon
With spring in the air, many of us are dusting off our bows, grabbing a handful of arrows and heading out to the range. For some, this is just a fun way to get back outside and enjoy the return of sunshine. But for myself, I view it as an opportunity to make a change. I’ve come into each spring the past few years with the goal of significantly improving my archery accuracy and with a few small goals each year, I’ve been able to make substantial process.
That said, if you’re looking to do something similar yourself, here are three easy ways you too can improve your archery accuracy this spring.
1. Practice At 20 Yards Beyond Your “Maximum Range”: One of the easiest things you can do to become a better shot is to practice at longer distances than your goal range. For example, currently my “maximum effective range”, AKA the farthest I’m willing to shoot at a deer in the field, is 40 yards. But I practice out to 60 yards on a regular basis. I’m not doing this because I actually plan on regularly shooting deer at 60 yards, but rather because by practicing at 60, my shooting at 40 seems much easier. At long distances any small mistake in your shooting form will be accentuated. What at 20 yards might be a bulls eye, quickly turns into a wide miss at 60. Step back 20 yards further than usual, and start practicing. At first you’ll probably have a hard time, but keep at it and eventually you’ll start dropping them in the 12 ring at those longer distances. Once you’ve done that, a 40 yard shot on a rut crazed buck will look like a chip shot!
2. Train Your Body For Better Shots: Unlike many “sports”, deer hunting is largely a mental game, requiring proper planning and then hard work to execute those plans. But in the very end, even if all the planning was perfect, if your body can’t handle the final test of shooting your bow accurately, it’s all for naught. That said, an important project to take up this spring is tuning your body to properly shoot your bow. While overall full body fitness is important, if you had to focus on only one area I would recommend it be your upper back and shoulders. These muscles are the most important when it comes to drawing back and holding a bow. This spring, take some time to focus on exercises that can improve your strengh in these key areas, and you’ll begin noticing improvements in your ability to draw your bow, hold it steadier and hold it longer. Here are links to some exercise options for the back and shoulders … 5 Exercises for a Strong Upper Back , Upper Back, Neck and Shoulder Exercises
3. Purchase A Drop Away Rest: If you’re not already using a drop away rest, this is one of the easiest changes you can make to your archery set up to improve your accuracy. Of course this requires a little money, but if you can set aside a few dollars here and there, a drop away is an investment worth it’s weight in gold. For those that aren’t familiar, a drop away rest lifts up your arrow into the ready position when your bow is drawn, and the rest then falls down again upon release. This drop away effect minimizes the amount of contact that the arrow or fletchings have with the rest, which in turn minimizes the negative effects of any movement you might have had at the shot. The result of this is an arrow that flys much accurately towards the target. I significantly improved my average arrow groups by switching to a drop away, in my case the Trophy Ridge Revolution, and this accuracy impact is even more noticeable at long distances. If you are already using a drop away, I’d encourage you to use this spring to make sure it is properly timed and tuned. If your rest isn’t functioning properly, the accuracy benefits are a moot point. Here is a link to some helpful tips from Bill Winke on timing your rest … Tips For Timing Your Drop Away Rest .
If you’re hoping for bowhunting success this fall, it’s imperative that you focus on improving your archery accuracy this spring. If you practice at long ranges, train your bow shooting muscles for increased strength and endurance, and then invest in a drop away rest you’ll be well on your way to making that a goal a reality.