Skip to main content

4 Target Practice Strategies to Try This Off-Season

Change your practice sessions now for more success this fall.

4 Target Practice Strategies to Try This Off-Season

You can’t grow as an archer if you don’t challenge yourself. Here are four ways to do just that, each of them geared toward making this hunting season your best one yet!

Stop Shooting Repetitively

Repetitive shooting can help you develop muscle memory, but you’re never going to get half a dozen or more shots at the exact same yardage and angle when hunting. So, why practice that way?

Instead, shoot one arrow at a given yardage, one arrow at another yardage and so on. This will teach you to make every shot count, and it will give you experience with your rangefinder because you won’t be relying on yardage markers.

Don’t just change the distance you’re shooting at, though. Shoot at different angles to prepare for shots other than the ideal broadside offering. Targets with multiple shooting sides are perfect for this type of practice. A 3-D target can be helpful, too, because it will cause you to think through your shot placement in relation to an animal’s vitals.


Check Your Watch

As the saying goes, timing is everything. That’s true in bowhunting, and it should be true in your off-season practice. Why stand around shooting in broad daylight when your quarry will most likely walk out at dawn or dusk?


Shooting at twilight — especially shooting 3-D targets — will help you make accurate shots on game in lower lighting conditions. It will also show you whether your pins are bright enough to be useful when a last-minute shot presents itself. There’s no worse time to realize that you need a sight light than when you’re in a treestand trying to aim at a game animal.

Don’t Warm Up

Flinging a few arrows before getting serious about your practice session can be detrimental to your hunting accuracy. What benefit is it to you if your last 99 arrows all touched but the first one missed the mark? The first arrow is the most important arrow in bowhunting.

To avoid this, hang your bow in your garage with a target placed out back and within range. When you walk to your vehicle each morning, shoot an arrow and then hang the bow back on the hook. Do the same when you get home in the evenings. That’s realistic practice, as you’ll probably only get one shot at a game animal without any warm-ups beforehand.

Leave the Land Below

Many bowhunters never shoot from their treestands until the moment of truth arrives. That’s a mistake, and a big one. Use the stand you’ll actually be hunting in if possible, or buy one just like it as a dedicated practice prop. Place a target or targets around your stand and then make the climb, bringing plenty of arrows along so you don’t have to come down and retrieve them so often. If a friend or family member can stand safely nearby, have them retrieve the arrows when you’re done and then send them up to you via a pull rope.




This is the ultimate form of off-season practice because you can use your hunting quiver, rangefinder, safety harness and other gear just like you would in hunting season. You can also practice shooting from a seated position and, if applicable, over the stand’s shooting rail.

However you choose to practice this off-season, the important thing is, practice! If you work to improve your shooting abilities now, you’ll find that arrowing a trophy this fall will be much easier.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

New for 2021: Hoyt RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum 30 and Ventum 33

ATA 2021 NeDuring this video from the Archery Trade Association's New Product Premiere showcase, Bowhunter's TV Mike Carney visited with Evan Williams, pro staff manager for Hoyt Archery, to learn about the new RX-5, RX-5 Ultra, Ventum and Ventum 33 bows.w Product - Hoyt

Mathews V3 - Flagship Bow for 2021

Mathews V3 - Flagship Bow for 2021

Mathews has announced two versions of their 2021 flagship bow, the V3.

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.

Crossbow Review: TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO

Crossbow Review: TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO

The all-new 2021 offering will certainly be one of the most accurate long-range crossbows ever built.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Have a look at some of the very best compound bows being brought to the market this year.New Bows for 2021 ATA Show

New Bows for 2021

Christian Berg - January 11, 2021

Have a look at some of the very best compound bows being brought to the market this year.

Get in shape for archery season with this step-by-step, 10-week plan and guide. 10-Week Bowhunting Training Routine How-To

10-Week Bowhunting Training Routine

Bill Winke - April 26, 2017

Get in shape for archery season with this step-by-step, 10-week plan and guide.

Craft your shafts for maximum performance in the field.How to Build the Best Hunting Arrow Arrows & Broadheads

How to Build the Best Hunting Arrow

Jon E. Silks

Craft your shafts for maximum performance in the field.

From new binoculars and rangefinders to a fresh batch of trail cameras, there's no shortage of product to help bowhunters out this year.New Optics and Scouting Gear for 2021 ATA Show

New Optics and Scouting Gear for 2021

Jace Bauserman - January 15, 2021

From new binoculars and rangefinders to a fresh batch of trail cameras, there's no shortage of...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

When the moment of truth arrives, you need to forget about the big rack in front of you. Pick a Spot to Slow Your Movement At Full Draw How-To

Pick a Spot to Slow Your Movement At Full Draw

Bill Winke

When the moment of truth arrives, you need to forget about the big rack in front of you.

Don't just hunt food plot — get out and plant some with this strategy!Winning with Fall Food Plots How-To

Winning with Fall Food Plots

Jason Snavely

Don't just hunt food plot — get out and plant some with this strategy!

A perfect shot requires a perfect release.Proper Archery Release Aid Technique How-To

Proper Archery Release Aid Technique

Larry Wise

A perfect shot requires a perfect release.

Understanding wind drift is a critical skill that requires practice.Shooting in the Wind: How To Be More Accurate How-To

Shooting in the Wind: How To Be More Accurate

Randy Ulmer

Understanding wind drift is a critical skill that requires practice.

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Bowhunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now