When bow season winds down, the fun doesn’t have to end. You can continue to spend time honing your hunting skills with recreational archery.
One of the great advantages of shooting in the off-season is the improvement you’ll see in your bowhunting accuracy come fall. Best of all, you already have the equipment you need to shoot archery for fun or competition.
Although you can go straight from bowhunting to target shooting, you’ll need to make a few minor gear changes.
First, to convert your bow from “king of the woods” to a “range master,” switch your broadheads to field points. Broadheads chew up targets, so your archery range will appreciate you switching them out. Be sure to use a broadhead wrench to avoid slicing your fingers while removing broadheads.
Next, examine your draw weight. Bowhunting requires one well-placed shot from a bow that has enough energy to penetrate an animal’s vitals effectively. This is not the case in recreational shooting. If you’re shooting a heavy draw weight and get tired after shooting more than 30 arrows, your archery shop technicians can reduce your draw weight so you can comfortably shoot your bow.
Once you’ve made those minor changes, you are ready to take your hunting bow to a few archery events.
When you think “competition archery” you might imagine tricked-out bows that aren’t practical for bowhunting. However, many competitive organizations now have divisions that allow you to take your bow straight from the woods into a tournament.
Bowhunter divisions have rules that restrict accessories to those most commonly used for bowhunting. Some examples: Stabilizers must be shorter than 12 inches, and sights cannot be adjusted during competition. Check with the tournament organizer for their equipment rules.
Both indoor and outdoor archery competitions have a bowhunter division. That means this winter you can start shooting your local indoor archery league and transition to shooting 3-D archery through the summer.
3-D Archery for Practice and Fun
If you’re looking for realistic practice that will make you a better bowhunter, 3-D archery is the answer. In 3-D, you walk through a wooded archery course and shoot at life-size animal targets.
Shooting at different angles, distances and in various terrain replicates all the dynamic shooting scenarios you’ll face while hunting. You can shoot 3-D for fun at the local club, or try competing in a tournament.
Nothing compares to the adrenaline surge experienced while taking a shot at an animal. But competition nerves come close to replicating buck fever and will help you shoot better when the pressure is on this fall.
As we move from the rut into late-season hunting, start thinking about ways to stay busy shooting until turkey season. Try an indoor league or indoor 3-D shoot this winter. You’ll have a ton of fun and stay sharp for hunting season.
If you need help finding a range, stop by an archery shop and ask them about local leagues and 3-D courses in your area.