Don’t just let that bow sit in the closet or out in the garage all summer. Dust off the case, take the bow out and get some practice.
There are dozens of archery ranges around the state where you can practice shooting in the off season. If you don’t know where the one closest to your house is, ask at your local sporting goods store. If they don’t know, they might be able to at least tell you how to contact someone else who might know.
If you can’t get onto a public range, or even a private range that offers memberships, buy an archery target and set up your own range. A company called “The Block” makes a good, inexpensive target. You can also find 3-D targets for under a hundred bucks. Not everyone’s back yard is a great place to shoot a high-power compound bow, but you can take that target to nearly any section of state or federal land and get some practice. Just make sure you pick a spot to shoot where you won’t be a danger to hikers, anglers or other land users.
If you want to tweak your bow or its accessories, now’s the time to do it, rather than the night before your elk area opens. Switch to carbon arrows, buy a new sight, adjust your rest or replace your string now. Then get out every chance you can and get used to how the bow shoots.
While you’re practicing, you’re not just honing your shooting skills. You’re also working the muscles you’ll need when you’re hunting. The stronger your upper body is, the less likely you’ll shake when you draw down on that antelope in August.
When you practice, once in a while, wear the same gear you’ll be wearing when you hunt. Put on your backpack, and make sure the straps don’t interfere with your draw. Wear the gloves you’ll wear when you hunt. And pull your face mask down over your face and take a few shots while you’re wearing it. If it interferes with your vision, you have plenty of time to look for a new one before the season rolls around.
The time to get used to all this gear and tone your muscles is now, not on opening day. So get out and fling a few arrows. It might just make the difference in the fall.