What Do You Do During the Off-Season to Improve?
Archery isn’t a skill that comes to you overnight. It takes practice—even year-round — to get good at it. Try these 10 tips from Realtree pros to help you increase your archery abilities during this off-season.
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1 | Art Helin — Go to the Bow Doctor
Art Helin, a Realtree pro staffer, knows a thing or two about shooting a bow. His No. 1 tip is to go to the bow doctor.
“Take your bow to a good bow tech and make sure your bow is still in time with no string stretch, cam lean, etc.,” Helin said. “Re-paper tune it at this time to ensure your broadheads will fly true come fall.”
Photo credit: Art Helin
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2 | Kyle Barefield — Perfect Your Form
Kyle Barefield of The Resistance TV is a great shot. When asked for his best tip, he said perfecting form and getting in good habits during the off-season is very important.
“I practice acquiring my target during the draw,” Barefield said. “If I draw back and then move to my target from off target it will cause me to want to punch the trigger again. Now every time I draw I do not think about drawing the bow. I actually start trying to aim at the bull’s-eye through the draw so my pins settle on the bull’s-eye as soon as I hit my anchor point.
“The second thing I do is concentrate on squeezing the trigger (not punching it) as I’m aiming at the bull’s-eye,” he continued. “I want the bow to surprise me when it goes off while I’m concentrating on aiming at the bull’s-eye. I call this running the motor. When I come to full draw and my pin is floating over the bull’s-eye, I begin to run the motor and apply constant pressure to the trigger as I aim. If my bow hasn’t gone off and my pin moves off of the bull’s-eye, I will let down. I never want to force a shot, as this will develop a bad habit.”
Photo credit: Kyle Barefield
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3 | Nate Hosie — Practice Year-Round
Nate Hosie, co-host of HeadHunters TV, bowhunts year-round. It’s part of how he makes his livelihood. So practicing during the off-season is a must for him.
“Stay in your groove and practice perfectly,” Hosie said. “Just because the season ends doesn't mean practice and preparation end as well. Practice year-round to help you be the most effective, ethical shot you can be. Practice for that perfect moment when it all comes together.”
Photo credit: Nate Hosie
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4 | Steven Fuller — Practice Different Positions, Distances and Elevations
Steve Fuller of The Hunting Grounds is a pretty good shot. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to a bow and arrow.
“Practice shooting in different situations and from different elevations,” Fuller said. “Practice in hunting scenarios such as shooting from a blind and a treestand. I always try to shoot from a variety of elevations, whether I'm shooting down a hill, out of my stand, or off the roof of my house. When deer hunting, you have to be ready for the unpredictable. Practice long-range shots, even further than you would shoot at a deer. This will help fine tune your accuracy and when deer season comes in those shots within your comfort zone will hopefully feel like a chip shot.”
Photo credit: Steven Fuller
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5 | Michael Lee — Practice Like You Hunt
Michael Lee of Backwoods Life stressed the importance of practicing the way that you hunt. And it’s important to practice shooting at downward angles, too. Make sure you’re bending at the waist — not leaning with the shoulders.
“During the off season I shoot my bow as regular as I can,” Lee said. “I still shoot out of a treestand even when not hunting. This keeps you dialed in at judging yardage from the stand as well and working on the correct form shooting at a downward angle.”
Photo credit: Michael Lee
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6 | Mike Stroff — Use Lifelike Targets and Scenarios
Mike Stroff of Savage Outdoors is a serious deer hunter. And he understands the importance of shooting at lifelike targets during the off-season.
“I have made it a habit the last 15 years to shoot my bow every day that I’m home before dark,” Stroff said. “Some days I may only have time to shoot eight to 10 shots and some days I have time to shoot 30 to 40 shots. Shooting my bow is just part of my daily routine in the evenings when I get home. I have multiple 3D targets set up at different yardages and one large bag target with dots. It is important to vary your practice situations when you are shooting. I like to have the ability to set up different shots by just walking around my yard. One thing is for sure, the shots you get when you are hunting are never like the perfect shots you get when shooting at targets, so make sure to mix it up and throw some variation into your practice routine.”
Photo credit: Mike Stroff
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7 | Nikki Boxler — Practice with your heart rate elevated
Nikki Boxler, Realtree pro staffer, works hard during the off-season, too.
“Shooting at a target when you are completely calm and relaxed is an entirely different ball game than taking a shot at a big game animal,” Boxler said. “I would suggest being active and getting your heart rate elevated before shooting your bow. Doing exercises such as sprints or jumping jacks in between shots will simulate the adrenaline rush you get when you are actually out in the field. This doesn’t mean you have to do it every time you shoot. However, I like to incorporate practicing with an elevated heart rate because it helps build my confidence in shooting accurately when I am out in the field.”
Photo credit: Nikkie Boxler
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8 | Randy Birdsong — Use Indoor Ranges
Randy Birdsong, co-host of HeadHunters TV, shoots year-round. And he enjoys utilizing indoor ranges.
“Indoor ranges,” Birdsong said. “It's always been fun and a great way to stay sharp in the late winter months to join an indoor archery league. You can have a little fun competing if you've got a competitive side to you or just join to be able to shoot for fun out of the elements. The other way I've always tried to stay sharp is to take advantage of the nice spring weather. As soon as it starts warming up, I'm out in the yard getting a little practice in on those nice days. It's a long way until season but it's never too early to stay sharp.”
Photo credit: Bill Konway
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9 | Tyler Jordan — Off-Season Hunting
Tyler Jordan, co-host of Realtree Outdoors, likes to find something to hunt year-round. That helps him to stay sharp while waiting for fall.
“In my opinion, nothing beats shooting at a wild target,” Jordan said. “Hunting smaller game with your bow like turkey or hogs can be extremely challenging while also perfecting your archery skills. Instead of using your bow equipment for only a few months out of the year, get out and have some fun. You’ll be thanking yourself come next bowhunting season.”
Photo credit: Tyler Jordan
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10 | Kirsten Godfrey — Try Bowfishing
Kirsten Godfrey, a Realtree and bowhunting extraordinaire, loves to bowfish during the off-season.
“Keeping your archery skills in tune can be a challenge sometimes,” Godfrey said. “We build our skills up right before and during deer season, but sometimes are quick to hang the bow up after season has ended. So go bowfishing. Everyone has time for bowfishing and it's extremely fun. You have unlimited targets and you will be shooting a bow. You be building muscle, shooting instinctively, keeping your archery game strong, and cleaning up the river one fish at a time.”
Photo credit: Kirsten Godfrey
Editor's Note: This was originally published on March 23, 2018.
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