It’s that time of year. Tags are being drawn and our dream hunts are sneaking up on us. We’re counting down the days until hunting season. There are so many ways you can prepare.
One way that everyone thinks of is to shoot a lot…and practice is definitely part of it. Below are some tips and tricks to not only improve your shot, but to better prepare you for the hunt in other ways.
On a spot-and-stalk hunt, you never know when a shot opportunity will take place, or what the situation will be when it does. In addition to standing, practice shooting in a kneeling position. This will show you areas where you need to get stronger, because these positions use a lot of different muscles.
Also, certain shots might need you to be a little more flexible, in order to lean around a tree or another obstacle. This can take a lot of balance training, as well as improving muscles.
When you see your prey come within range, your heart races. I’ve experienced this to a point where I couldn’t even draw my bow because of the anxiety.
To prepare for this type of heart-racing situation, practice trying to shooting your target after a sprint. When you feel comfortable with this exercise, add your backpack and try some more. Then add weight to the backpack, to simulate a real hunt.
Many states have a minimum draw weight requirements. You’ll have to build up to the required weight. This is important, because you want to make sure your arrow will make the best impact on that animal.
To develop your muscles, lift weights that work those muscles. Bicep curls, military presses, lat pulls, tricep extensions and planks all work important muscle groups for archery. In addition, shoot your bow 4 or more times a week, shooting more than 50 arrows a day, until you can draw with ease.
While I was archery hunting red stag in New Zealand, I was glad I practiced. I held at full draw on a huge stag for 2 minutes. This is something I worked very hard on, and it really paid off.
To prepare for this, take it slow. Start holding at full draw for 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 15. Each time it will feel like a stretch. Continue to increase your hold time. Before you know it, you’ll easily hold for a minute or more.
In the summer it may seem crazy, but mornings in the fall can get pretty chilly, and that means you’ll have layers on. A key thing to do during practice is to shoot with your layers on. You may need to get a slimmer outer layer, if your layers are too big and the string hits your jacket.
Also practice shooting with gloves on. You may want to customize your gloves for shooting. What you decide on comes down to personal preference. My mom likes regular thin gloves, whereas I like to wear mittens that I can flip back to shoot.
While hunting elk, you may be on your own. It’s important to be able to call to stop an elk. Practice with a mouth reed. You can have your bow drawn back and call when you need that bull to stop or take that extra step.
I visited with my fellow Girls with Guns staffer, Sereena Thompson. She’s a longtime hunter and Extreme Huntress semifinalist. I asked her what she thought was most important for when preparing for the hunt. She told me, “You cannot out-train bad nutrition. Eating the right foods to fuel your body while you’re out hunting is a vital part of having enough strength, stamina and endurance.”
Sereena always makes sure her hunting pack is full of healthy foods. She suggests we look for food that is high in protein and healthy carbs and low in processed sugars and preservatives. Her favorite hunting snacks include homemade smoked jerky, sweet potato chips, raw nuts, dried fruit, homemade granola bars, apples, oranges, protein shake powder, cold pancakes with peanut butter, and protein banana muffins. These are all great snacks to give you energy and keep you in hunting shape!
Interested in ways to get in shape for firearms shooting? Spring Training ll