5 Things You Need to Know Before Introducing a Woman to Bowhunting

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Help deliver a positive experience and instill lasting memories

Your Old Bow Won’t Fit Her

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1 | Your Old Bow Won’t Fit Her

When my family and I owned and ran an archery pro shop from 2002-2010, well-meaning men would often visit our store with their significant other or perhaps a daughter. They’d usually be toting an old, crusty bow case with a dated men’s bow inside it. You guessed it, they’d want to have that bow adjusted to and set up for the woman/girl in question.

Guys: It doesn’t work that way. Your old bow hanging in the garage or stuffed underneath the bed simply won’t cut it. Tiffany Lakosky agrees. “When a woman wants to try archery or bowhunting, I know it can be tempting to give her an old hand-me-down bow, but that just isn’t logical or practical,” she said. “Sure, you’ll save some money, but she’ll have a poor experience and won’t shoot accurately. She’ll have a far more positive experience from the start if you outfit her with a woman’s bow adjusted to her specs. Plus, it’s fun to visit a local archery pro shop together, and let her choose a bow that fits her hand, strength and draw length.” 

Melissa Bachman, a Realtree pro-staffer, shared similar thoughts. “Trying something new and out of your element can be intimidating,” she shared. “Make sure to outfit women with gear that fits so they’re comfortable. This will make their experience more enjoyable.”

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You’re Probably Not Her Best Shooting Coach

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2 | You’re Probably Not Her Best Shooting Coach

Some men are just plain stubborn and impatient. If that’s you, you’re probably not the one to teach a woman – especially if you’re a mediocre shooter – to shoot archery if you want her to succeed and enjoy it.

Case in point: I vividly recall an occasion at my family’s archery shop when a man brought in his daughter and her bow. They came in to buy her a new release.

As she tried several releases, the man undermined our expertise, stepping in and grabbing her release hand, while she was at full draw, and forcibly twisting her hand/wrist to different positions to show her the “right” and “wrong” ways to anchor. He also insisted that she increase her draw weight even though she could barely draw her bow as it was.

The Bible calls men to treat women with respect. As it relates to shooting, if a girl/woman does something incorrectly, don’t react in an upset or forceful way. Instead, instruct her again and again, carefully and patiently, until she achieves results. Then, praise her diligence and hard work. Do that and she will succeed.

Lakosky also suggested that a husband or boyfriend isn’t always the best coach. “Even though you may want to teach your wife or girlfriend how to shoot archery, it’s usually best to have someone else teach her,” she said. “Leave it to someone who teaches archery professionally to instruct her correctly and patiently from the beginning. She must learn proper form and shooting techniques early on, otherwise, she’ll most likely struggle to shoot well and won’t stick with it.”

Bachman agreed. “A good instructor ensures that a prospective woman is taught shooting mechanics correctly,” she said. “It’s also important for women to begin with low draw weight and work up from there.”

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Introduce Her to 3D Archery First

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3 | Introduce Her to 3D Archery First

Women who are good candidates to be introduced to bowhunting are ones who’ve been shooting a bow proficiently. They’ve shot 3-D archery either in the backyard or at tournaments. For example, Tiffany Lakosky didn’t start bowhunting monster bucks the same year she got her first bow. She shot 3D archery with now-husband, Lee, for approximately two years before trying bowhunting.

“Make practice fun,” Lakosky encouraged. “It can be exciting for families to spend time shooting together. Either join a 3D league or buy 3D targets and make a small backyard range. Some of my fondest times with Lee are when we shoot together outside while our kids play.”

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Any Old Camo Suit Won’t Do

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4 | Any Old Camo Suit Won’t Do

Another way that men blow it is when they misconceive that camo clothing is camo clothing. It’s not true. Think of it this way: Your wife/daughter/sister wouldn’t feel confident walking around in public wearing your jeans, would she? If not, then how do you expect her to safely climb a tree or shoot without bowstring/sleeve interference while wearing ill-fitting, hand-me-down camo clothing? It won’t happen.

Recently, clothing manufacturers have filled the once-void, women’s-specific hunting apparel market. No longer must we size-down men’s clothing to fit women. Now, we can outfit them with clothing in their sizes that fits curves and stretches so they can draw and shoot from awkward positions (treestands or tight ground-blind quarters).

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She Might Not Like It

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5 | She Might Not Like It

If you avoid the preceding four pointers, chances are high that the woman/women you hoped would become passionate, lifelong bowhunters will highly dislike or even despise bowhunting. Bachman said this is especially true if you introduce a woman to bowhunting during inclement weather. “Don’t take anyone out for their first hunt in extreme heat, cold, rain or snow,” she said. “You also must make it safe. If you’ll be hunting from a treestand, make sure you both use a harness and lifeline. An accident can quickly turn a positive thing negative.”

Beyond that, “patience from both the mentor and instructor are important to success,” Bachman shared. “Bowhunting is more about the experience and less about the kill. You must learn to appreciate all the hard work you’ve done. That itself is rewarding, and when a kill happens, it’s that much sweeter.”

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Editor's Note: This was originally published November 22, 2017.

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Of archery’s recent popularity surges, perhaps the most prevalent is women joining us on the archery range and in the bowhunting woods. It’s a powerful movement and one the hunting industry needs.

In the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of introducing my mother, sister and wife (then girlfriend) to bowhunting. Doing so required hours of coaching, boatloads of patience and a careful approach. But, all three still own and shoot bows, and though they’re not as obsessed with bowhunting as I am, they occasionally head afield to hunt.

My wife, Rebecca, has taken a couple of gobblers with her bow, and this fall she’ll be bowhunting whitetails in Kansas. We’re counting down the days, and spending much time shooting together in the yard. We enjoy it immensely.

Now, let’s review five important things you should know before you introduce a woman to bowhunting.