John's Journal...


Practice Judging Yardage, Don’t Just Shoot Dots, and Learn to Shoot Under Pressure

EDITOR'S NOTE: Allen Conners of Gadsden, Alabama, the winner of the title of World Champion Target Archer numerous times, the Archery Shooters Association Shooter of the Year award, the Cabela’s Championship and the Buckmasters World Championship, Conners also loves to bowhunt. He originally became a target archer to improve his bowhunting skills and shoots target archery when he can't go bowhunting, his first and foremost priority. Hunting with a bow requires a great amount of precision. To make an accurate bow shot, you have to have your bow, arrows, broadheads and shooting skills all finely-tuned, as John Stiff mentioned yesterday. Conners says that over the years he’s learned that the little things, the forgotten or overlooked aspects of bowhunting, often cause archers to miss their shots when they have bucks in front of their broadheads.

Practice Judging Yardage:

Click to enlargeUse a rangefinder to check your ability to guess yardage. Try to judge yardage in either 5- or 10-yard increments. Remember, even if you shoot more accurately than anyone else in your town and you misjudge your yardage from the buck, you will miss the deer. To shoot better, learn to judge yardage very accurately. Most hunters don't spend enough time practicing how to judge yardage consistently to determine their distance from the deer. Oftentimes when a buck comes in and your adrenaline begins pumping, you'll misjudge the yardage. To solve this problem, I carry a rangefinder with me when I hunt. I range the distance to several landmarks in front of me. Then when a buck comes in, I'll know his exact distance from my tree stand. If a buck is about 5 yards closer to me than a tree I've ranged at 20 yards, I know the buck is about 15 yards from me. With that information, I understand how to aim. By using a rangefinder to determine known distances to certain spots in the woods, then you usually only have to judge 5 to 10 yards or 1 to 2 yards from that known object. If you utilize this practice, you will become a very precise shooter. But, you can't totally rely on a rangefinder. On a hunt to Canada a couple of years ago, I had ranged my distance to the edge of a grain field. When a buck came out in the field, I knew he was at 50 yards. I used my 50-yard pin, and even though daylight had nearly faded, I shot accurately. When I stepped the distance off, I found the buck actually had been at 51 yards. I only had misjudged the distance by one yard. Had I not used the rangefinder to pre-determine the distance, I might not have shot as accurately.

Don’t Shoot Just Dots:

Click to enlargeWhen many hunters practice shooting their bows, they will shoot at targets that have dots or bull's-eyes marked on them. These hunters believe the smaller the dot they can hit, then the more accurately they will shoot when they bowhunt. However, I've bowhunted most of my life, and I never have seen a deer in the woods that has a dot on his side to indicate a kill zone. To affect a lethal shot, you need to practice shooting life-size targets to know how to target the kill zone and where you must place the arrow on the animal when it turns different ways. Most of us want to have broadside shots at deer like the targets we have standing in our backyards. But in fact, a quartering-away shot may provide a better hit in many instances than a broadside shot. When a deer quarters away from you, place your arrow further back on the animal's body than you will when the deer is standing broadside to you. The more severe the angle of the shot, the smaller the target will be. Then your aiming point must change. When you shoot dot targets in your backyard, you won't learn how to shoot through an animal like you will if you use full-bodied realistic-looking animal targets. Most 3D targets also have the deer's kill zone impregnated on the side of the target. When you use these types of targets, you'll have a much better reference of knowing where to place the arrow than if you shoot flat dot targets.

Learn to Shoot under Pressure:

Click to enlargeYou shoot like you practice. Most bowhunters completely overlook one of the key elements of practice and don't prepare for the mental pressure of having to move quietly while taking a shot at a buck of a lifetime or a buck of a season. To learn to shoot under pressure, invite three or four of your buddies to practice with you. Have them watch you and your shots. With someone staring at you, ready to criticize your shot, you're under pressure to make a good shot. This pressure simulates the same type of mental pressure you'll face when you must execute a shot properly as a nice-sized buck comes within your bow's range. If you don't have 3D tournaments close to your home before bow season, create them. Invite a group of archers over to your house to shoot, and set up as a prize that the losing archer has to buy dinner for the others. Anytime you can add a prize to a practice session, you'll increase the pressure you must face to shoot accurately. If you learn to shoot under pressure in your backyard or at an archery tournament, you more likely will deal with that pressure better and shoot much more accurately when a buck walks within your bow's range during the season.


Check back each day this week for more about "HOW TO SHOOT YOUR BOW BETTER"

Day 1: How to Tune Your Bow
Day 2: Shoot Short and Light, and Choose Quality Accessories with Allen Conners
Day 3: Check Your Equipment before You Hunt, and Line Up Your Peep Sight for All Types of Shooting
Day 4: Practice Judging Yardage, Don’t Just Shoot Dots, and Learn to Shoot Under Pressure
Day 5: Use Carbon Arrows, Keep Your Bow at Arm’s Length, and Don’t Let Your Ego Cause You to Miss Deer



Entry 316, Day 4