The advantages to shooting better are exponential. You hit more stuff, your confidence grows, you hit still more stuff. And if a faster bow is what you crave, better shooting fundamentals will help you handle it.
Shorten Your Release
If you trip your release trigger with the tip of an extended index finger, quit it. This tends to make you slap at the thing. Instead, shorten your release aid so that at full draw you are able to curl your index finger around the trigger at about the middle joint. This makes it easier to squeeze the trigger smoothly and with better control. —D.H.
Float the Pin and Squeeze
You wouldn’t think that letting your sight pin float on, off, and around the bull as you squeeze the trigger could possibly tighten your groups. But it does, like magic. So stop trying to hold the pin perfectly still on your mark, which is often not possible anyway. Instead, let it float and squeeze—slow and steady. —D.H.
Watch the Arrow
Eyeing the shaft all the way to the target through the sight-pin bracket during practice sessions promotes better follow-through and keeps you from dropping your bow arm. —Will Brantley
Shoot for Something
A friendly gamble helps teach you to steel your nerves while at full draw. Bet a quarter per arrow with your buddies during backyard practice and let the smack talk flow freely. —W.B.
Practice in Low Light
Most bow shots at mature whitetail bucks happen during either the first or the final ticks of daylight, when sight pins dim and your peep sight seems to shrink. So devote some practice time to the opening and closing minutes of legal light in your area to prep for this crunch time and to learn your maximum effective range in low light. And count on it being tighter than you expect. —Scott Bestul
If It's Not Safe
You live next door to the Dawn-to-Dusk Daycare Center, for example. Seriously, be careful.
Form is Everything
Good form is the reason why Sam Snead has over 300 top-10 finishes and why Mariano Rivera may pitch until he’s 50. It’s also what will get you to shoot your bow better. So practice until you can do it in your sleep. Here are the basics to good form.
Check Your Bubble Level
The bubble level on your sight reveals cant and torque, both of which are accuracy killers. Always use it on the practice range because it forms good habits. Glance at the bubble as part of your pre-shot routine, adjust the bow as necessary, and watch your groups shrink. —W.B.
On Short Field Shots
In the field you only need to use it for shots beyond 30 yards and for shooting on a steep incline. Otherwise, half-a-bubble off won't make much difference.
Match the Arrow Spine
Two bows with the same draw length and weight may require different arrow spines for optimum accuracy. Any reputable bow shop will have access to a spine calculator. But if you’re buying online, make sure you speak with a tech to match the spine with your bow’s specs. —W.B.
Make the First Shot Count
Repetitive practice is fine for perfecting form. But few bucks will give you a second shot, let alone a fifth. About a month prior to the opener, start each morning by shooting a single, broadhead-tipped hunting arrow. Pick a distance, visualize a hunting scenario, and shoot. Then walk away. Increase the difficulty as the season nears, and you’ll be ready for that make-or-break shot. —S.B.
Go Long: The 100-Yard Shot
Hitting a target at 100 yards with a bow is not so difficult as you think. Try it. Not only does long-range practice make shots at hunting ranges seem like gimmes; it also magnifies subtle mistakes in shooting form. If you mess up your form at 30, you may still be in the kill zone. If you mess up at 100, you’ll miss the whole damn target and lose a $12 arrow. This forces you to bear down and shoot well.