Here are some tips that more than anything have helped me be a successful
Hide Your Draw
Success in bowhunting is accomplished through a chain of well-executed steps
involving equipment knowledge, hunting technique, and shooting accuracy. The
weakest link in this chain is getting the shot off: drawing, aiming and
releasing at a close-range, super-sensitive, and high-strung animal before it
can elude you.
This moment of truth in bowhunting often comes apart at the seams when the
animal spots movement as a hunter positions his bow and draws. One way to
prevent this is by hiding your draw.
Let's say you've stalked to within 25 yards of a bedded deer. You are behind
a bush, the only cover around. You must expose yourself to get off the shot.
The natural way of shooting would be to rise above the bush, position your
bow with the sight in the general vicinity of the target, and then draw, aim, and shoot.
That would be fine, except that in perhaps 7 times out of 10, the deer will be
gone by the time the arrow arrives.
A better way is to draw before you are exposed. Then ease into shooting
position with as little movement as possible. Not only is there much less
alarming movement visible to the deer, but you can get the shot off much
quicker. Now, the 7-in-10 chance is that you will get him!
The technique applies just about anywhere, from the whitetail bottoms to the
sheep mountains. Like all techniques, it works best when you've practiced it
thoroughly. Try it out by shooting at 3-D targets from behind an obstruction.
Shooting Obstructions & Arrow Trajectory
Getting arrows around brushy or rocky obstructions is one of the biggest
problems bowhunters face. It seems there's always some branch sticking out
between you and the target, making you wonder if you should try to shoot over,
under, or around it.
A mistake many bowhunters make is spotting a branch in line with an animal's
vital zone and automatically assuming it is in the way of the arrow. Usually,
it isn't. On the other hand, they may ignore branches above the line of sight
to an animal that may be exactly in the arrow's path.
The principle at play is arrow trajectory. An arrow covering 30 yards
horizontally will have a significant amount of vertical drop. This trajectory
will be somewhere between one and three feet, depending on several
factors -- primarily your arrow's initial velocity.
An arrow travels upward for the first part of its journey to the target. For
a typical setup -- let's say a 60-pound compound shooting a standard hunting
arrow at 30 inches draw -- the arrow would fly about 4-1/2 inches high at 10
yards. It would sail over a branch at that distance that appeared to be
covering the 30-yard target. And it could very likely strike a branch that
appeared to be well out of the way, above the target.
Here's a good way to precisely determine if a possible obstruction is truly
in the way of your arrow: Estimate the yardage and place the correct sight pin
on the target. Then estimate the yardage to any obstructions you think might be
in the way, and check to see if your corresponding sight pins cover those
obstructions. If they do, either don't shoot or move to another position. If
they're clear, (and the animal hasn't high-tailed it while you've gone through
the steps), you've got the green light.
I discovered supported shooting the moment I first achieved bowhunting success.
I was a kid, and when the deer came into view, I became so excited I couldn't
keep the bowsight on target. Somehow I had the presence of mind to ease over
and steady my trembling upper arm against a tree, which enabled me to make a
perfect heart shot.
A rifle hunter worth his saltpeter would never dream of taking an offhand
shot if a decent rifle rest were handy. So why should it be different with
Mostly, because bowhunters just don't think about it or practice it, and bow
shooting positions don't always lend themselves to a support. But often they
do, and when I'm hunting with a compound and bowsight, I use a support wherever
Vertical tree trunks are the most common types of shooting supports for
bowhunters. I set up treestands so the most likely place where I will get a
shot is just to the right of the tree trunk. When it comes time to shoot, I
support the outside of my bow arm (about halfway between my shoulder and elbow)
against the trunk. I've also used rocks, the side of a blind, and once, the
inside of my left knee to steady my aim.
There's not always a way available to support your arm, but there are other
versions of supported shooting. Leaning your back up against something solid,
kneeling, or sitting will support your body, lessen bow movement, and improve
Give supported shooting a try. Like all things in bowhunting, make sure you
practice it thoroughly before using it in a hunting situation. Your arrow's
point of impact may change, depending on your personal technique.
For a fine selection of Archery gear, click here.
Mike Strandlund is the late editor of Bowhunting World Magazine and
bowhuntingworld.com, and is a member of the National Bowhunters Hall of Fame. We display his articles to honor his memory and his hope the sport of bowhunting will grow.