How to Practice with Purpose

How to Practice with Purpose

The only shot that matters is the first one. Randy Ulmer's son, Levi, took this Arizona bull elk last fall with one perfectly placed arrow.

If you are a serious hunter, there should be one overriding reason to practice with your bow: to become a better shooter.


You need to deeply dissect and analyze every aspect of your shot to identify where you most need improvement. This requires brutally honest self-evaluation. Once you've identified your areas of weakness, you need to work on them with single-minded determination.



Most people find it very difficult to honestly evaluate themselves. If this is the case with you, consider hiring a shooting coach. It helps to have an unbiased outsider to shed the light of truth on your shooting.


Attack Your Weaknesses

Everyone seems to enjoy doing things they are good at doing. However, people don't like to do the things they are not good at. For example, those of us who have trouble shooting in the wind hate shooting in the wind. We never practice when it's windy. So, obviously, we never get better at shooting in the wind.


You need to have the discipline to break this cycle. You must force yourself to practice and improve those things you do poorly.

The first step is to learn to make a perfectly executed shot under ideal circumstances. Once you have learned to execute a perfect shot, you'll realize it is actually a very simple process. (Just to be clear, a perfectly executed shot does not necessarily have to hit the mark.)

During a less than perfectly executed shot, aiming and concern over where the arrow will hit completely occupy the conscious mind. The quickest way to discover how to execute the perfect shot — and become fully aware of what you are doing before, during and after the shot — is to shoot with your eyes closed. Closing your eyes eliminates the aiming process and quiets that nagging concern over where the arrow will hit.

To do this, stand a few feet away from a large target and close your eyes while you draw, anchor and shoot. Try to "feel" the shot. Freedom from visual distractions will allow you to discover things you are doing wrong.

When you've learned to execute a "perfect" shot with your eyes closed, you must learn to experience that same feeling with your eyes open. This will take a while. When you have mastered the perfect shot with your eyes open, you must take this shot process and modify it to all the different scenarios you will find yourself in while hunting.

Your goal is to make one good shot from any position, under adverse conditions, without warming up.

As you do this, you will discover situations or positions that give you trouble. Once you have identified your weaknesses, take one particular issue at a time and practice it with full focus. Do not let the rest of your form fall apart while you focus on the issue at hand, but do try to keep the laser light of your focus on this one issue. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the bad habit is broken. Once you have that issue under control, move on to the next.

Only One Shot Matters

Here's the take-home message: your goal is not to be like a target shooter who can repeat shot after shot in a controlled environment, after you've warmed up. Your goal is to make one good shot from any position, under adverse conditions, without warming up. The only shot that matters is the first one. Bowhunting is not about shooting groups; it is about shooting one arrow as well as you can, when you need to.

In order to become this versatile "shooting machine," you need to practice shots that are considerably more difficult than any you'll face in the field. I'm talking about shots with awkward body angles and radical positions: standing on one leg, leaning around a tree, sitting flat on the ground or kneeling behind a bush. Try everything can think of to challenge your shooting form.

Think of your shot as a chain. Each part of the shot process is a link in the chain. In order to make a perfect shot while hunting, every step in the process has to be done correctly; every link in the chain must be strong. Your job is to identify the weak links and repair them. Your confidence will soar. It is not always easy or fun. But it is worth it!

Recommended for You

Podcasts

Still Going Strong

October 28, 2010

Related Stories> Ted Nugent Talks About His New Book> Mule Deep In The Backcountry>

How-To

Everything You Need to Know About Scent Control

Darren Warner

We break down how the different types of odor eliminating technologies work for bowhunting.

Bow Accessories

6 Ways to Make Your Bow Quieter

Darron McDougal

Is your bow setup a bit noisy? Try these tips to silence it.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke's Bowhunting Treestand Set-Up Tips

Field Editor Bill Winke provides bowhunting treestand set-up tips that'll help make life easier when it's go time in the fall.

Bill Winke's Top Five Bow Shooting Tips

Petersen's Bowhunting Field Editor Bill Winke give us his top five bow shooting tips

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

How-To

4 Steps to Perfect Broadhead Flight

Bowhunting Online Staff

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane. Good...

ATA Show

Top New Arrows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show!

ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top...

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

Stop Worrying About Your Follow-Through

Levi Morgan - August 02, 2018

Champion archer Levi Morgan explains why you should stop worrying about your shot...

How-To

The Importance of Proper Nock Fit for Bowhunting

Levi Morgan

If you want to be the best archer you can be, you have to pay attention to the tiniest...

How-To

The Benefits of Front-Heavy Arrows

Randy Ulmer - July 05, 2018

Randy Ulmer explains why adding more weight to the front of your arrows will make them perform...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×