How to Increase Your Bow Skills with Competitive Archery Shooting
A little friendly competition is often good for any life situation. Competition increases our awareness, helps us focus, and adds an often-needed dose of disciplined incentive. Obviously, these are all positive outcomes for bowhunters. Competitive archery shooting, whether in formal tournaments or just among friends, can improve your bow skills tremendously over practicing alone. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.
First, consider the full-on tournament environment. You can find local archery tournaments online either outdoors during the summer or at indoor shooting ranges during the winter. There are a few differences between archery in a hunting situation versus a target shooting setting. The most obvious is that many target archers generally use different equipment. You’ll often see stabilizers of a couple feet instead of a few inches, and target bows are generally heavier for further stability. However, you don’t have to go buy a new bow setup for tournament archery. Many tournaments take place at 3-D target courses, which will simulate hunting conditions a little more than blocks.
You can also consider joining a league to shoot with some regularity during the off-season. League shooting generally focuses on “shooting spots” (typically 60 arrows from 20 yards in a narrow circle). At this known distance, you’ll learn a lot about your form and be able to correct any mistakes you’re making. The league setting fosters a competitive spirit that will force you to become a more accurate and consistent archer rapidly. Your teammates will hold you accountable, and (politely) give you heck if you shoot poorly. There’s nothing like public humiliation to encourage regular practice! If you get used to competitive shooting under the pressure from your buddies, you’ll likely do better when faced with a nerve-wracking hunting shot.
If all this sounds a little too intense for you or if you don’t have time to commit to these pursuits, even competing with a friend one on one will help build your skills. Try challenging them to an adapted game of ‘Horse’ with your bows every few weeks. Try various shot angles and positions, change the targets and distances often, and keep them honest! A little bit of friendly heckling will encourage you both to practice and improve for the next time.
Competitive archery shooting, in any manner, will help you to be a better hunter. Though the approaches can be slightly different, you can still apply the basic bow skills you learn. So get out this summer and try some tournaments for a change. You might be surprised at the results next deer season.