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Have the Best Archery Season: 32 Tips to Shoot Better, Hunt Smarter

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.

Rule 7:
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.

Rule 8:
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.

Rule 9:
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

Rule 10:
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.

Rule 11:
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

Except:
If It's Not Safe

You live next door to the Dawn-to-Dusk Daycare Center, for example. Seriously, be careful.

Rule 12:
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.

Rule 13:
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.

Except:
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.

Rule 14:
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.

Rule 15:
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.

Rule 16:
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.

Comments (27)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great article, glad to see someone not biting onto the FPS hypes, and 10,000 dollar self aiming cable powered Cruise missle launchers. I use a parker wildfire and it kill deer like a little champ!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Good article to get pumped up for the bow season. Great point on accuracy vs. bells and whistles. Us bowhunters tend to miss the forest in the trees. Bowhunting is actually two sports in one, archery and hunting. In the past I've focused too much on the archery and not enough on the hunting.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hansbrinks wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great list, but it's all obsolete if your bow set-up is not whisper quiet. I don't care how fast your bow shoots, if it's making noise on the draw back or release you have no chance on a calm day.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

All are very good tips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Field and Stream continues to show me new ways to improve my shooting and hunting skills with my bow from. Good tips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

All great reminders and tips!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jimzenger wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great article. This will be my second year bow hunting. I especially like the tip about shooting does. I passed several last year. Looking forward to this season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I love rule #17...most bow hunters would have laughed if they saw one of my set-ups last year! When I got to my hunting area, the wind was wrong for my normal stand location. However, there was a log pile next to spruce tree 15 yards from a shooting lane where deer were visiting an apple tree...so I stacked the logs up and made a seat, then I cut some of the spruce bows and stuck them in the ground to break up my outline a little bit. 10 minutes later my hunt was over! I made a perfect shot on a 2.5 y/o doe at 15 yards! :-)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I recommend everyone use caution with rule #23. Know your hunting area and the deer densities in that area. Some places can handle high doe harvests, others can't. Every time you pull the trigger you are making a management decision that will affect your future hunts. Choose wisely, because the last thing I want to hear is, "There used to be all kinds of deer here back in the day, it's all DNR's fault for giving out all those doe tags!" No, it's your fault for using them without thinking about how it would affect your future hunting. Don't get me wrong, I fully support killing does, but I only support over-harvesting them. It's a hunter's responsibility to keep track of his or her own hunting scenario...not the DNR's.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blackdog1100 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

The season is too far away to get me excited like that, but its a great reason to practice!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"but I only support over-harvesting them."

WHOOPS! This should read: "but I DON'T support over-harvesting them." I don't know how "only" got in there...guess I'll have to proof read my posts a little better :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Savageshot wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Front of center and how it affects flight like when you spoke about arrow spine, seems to me to be a basic rule that should have been mentioned.It may not make a difference at 20 yards but at 40 and 50 consistant arrow flight becomes a must.

Also if your going to post your articles on your website, why do i have a subscribtion again?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nick Tramp wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Just because your bow is 5 years old it is not obsolete.... Many people cant afford the new bows and if all they can find to use is a 15 year old PSE, Bear, Matthews or Hoyt it will still kill a dear or bear just as dead as a new one and in the hands of some shooters probably out shoot a bow newer than 5 years old any day of the week. Wish you guys would stick to teaching people the facts and how to be a better hunter not try to sell new bows for the companies that can surely afford to advertise their equipment in your magazine. Id rather see a new bowhunter shooting a 20 year old thunder rumbling bow than sit on the couch because they cant afford a new $400 bare bow. Your magazine should encourage all hunters to take to the fields with any capable equipment they can muster - Not Discourage because of age of equipment!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Nick Tramp- I agree with your statement, My dad killed deer for 13 years with a old martin firecat, that he bought already six years old, and would continue using it today if it had not popped the cable off the cam and cracked his limbs on a nice 8 point ( real heart breaker). I plan on using my parker for another 10 years!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Right now I use a 80's bow that was my dad's. A marting eagle magnum. and this bow is just as fast as some of the new ones today. A little loud but i plan on fixing that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

martin*

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave Hurteau wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Hold on now fellas. I kindly invite you to read that graph again. The first line says, "You can kill game with a Bear Polar II." (Just ask Walt.) That should make it plenty clear that by "obsolete," I do not mean "no longer in use or useful," but rather "no longer current; outdated"--the latter of which comes straight from my Merriam-Webster. The older bows are unequivocally obsolete in this sense (just shoot one side-by-side with a good, new model). But if that's all you've got, God bless and by all means and please do. But if you're interested in a more current model, you may find the rules in the first section useful.

Nick,
You write: "Wish you guys would stick to teaching people the facts and how to be a better hunter...." Maybe you didn't get a chance to read the 25 rules that have nothing to do with buying a bow and everything to do with shooting and hunting better. Check them out. You might like them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from SCoutdoorsmen93 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Ive been shooting my bow for three weeks getting ready for opening day (Sept. 1 only one more month!!!) Ive hunted for about 10 years now and this is my first bow season. Great article it helped me a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SCoutdoorsmen93 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Ive been shooting my bow for three weeks getting ready for opening day (Sept. 1 only one more month!!!) Ive hunted for about 10 years now and this is my first bow season. Great article it helped me a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Eakin wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

This is a great article except for that bow-sales promoting line about bows older than 5 years are obsolete. I guess I should hang up my Mathews MQ-1 as an antique. I only took 17 deer with it last year after all.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labguy wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

I just replaced my bow this year. I had bought a used bowtech for $120 and used it for 5 years. I tried many bows all brands this year and to tell you the truth,I liked them all!I am not a brand seeking maniac. I went with the one that felt comfortable in my hand and my wallet.A bow is only obsolete when it sits in your closet unused.
Here in New England just getting an opportunity to shoot at a deer is special. That's why you don't see many hunting shows in New England.It doesn't make for good T.V when they can go for weeks without seeing deer. It's not that they are not there, its just that they are smart.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary M. Case wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Read this article, went got the bow, shot all day yesterday. Got the blood pumping. Excited for this years bow season. Thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nelson007308 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Great article, this year will be my 15 year old son's first year hunting with a bow. We read this article together and he could not wait to get outside and try several of the tips out. Thanks, nothing like some father and son time doing something that will make memories for a lifetime.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Fletcher Jr wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Great article! Lots of good tips and reminders of things that I need to work on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike0714 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

finally someone who actually understands how to shoot and hunt. like i have been staying in answers a fast bow is good but an accurate bow with a good heavy arrow is best. it is so refreshing to finally have a writer say it. also old bows are fine but the new parallel limb bows are better. there is a reason that Randy Ulmer is not shooting an old high country. if an old bow is all you have then use it but new bows are faster, more user friendly, and have a back wall. not nocking a martin eagle but bippity a bow from 1984 doesn't shoot anywhere never as fast as modern bows.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blevenson wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

I am still stuck in the stone age in the minds of most archers of today. I still shoot aluminum arrows. I started with them and I think I will continue to shoot with them. They are a heavier projectile and it does take off a bit of speed but they still do the trick. I also like how you give ground hunting credit. If you play the wind right and have a decent set up it will produce. I have seen many deer sitting on the ground. I haven't always gotten a shot at them but you can effectively hunt them on the ground. Sucks I won't be able to hit the woods this fall though since I am in Chile. I guess I'll have to give December a shot when I get home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kilnbux wrote 20 weeks 1 day ago

There are many great new fast bows that are extremely accurate as well. Gotta try out those carbon arrows though. Speed closes your pin gaps and lessons your chance of yardage estimating resulting in a poor shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Nick Tramp wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Just because your bow is 5 years old it is not obsolete.... Many people cant afford the new bows and if all they can find to use is a 15 year old PSE, Bear, Matthews or Hoyt it will still kill a dear or bear just as dead as a new one and in the hands of some shooters probably out shoot a bow newer than 5 years old any day of the week. Wish you guys would stick to teaching people the facts and how to be a better hunter not try to sell new bows for the companies that can surely afford to advertise their equipment in your magazine. Id rather see a new bowhunter shooting a 20 year old thunder rumbling bow than sit on the couch because they cant afford a new $400 bare bow. Your magazine should encourage all hunters to take to the fields with any capable equipment they can muster - Not Discourage because of age of equipment!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave Hurteau wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Hold on now fellas. I kindly invite you to read that graph again. The first line says, "You can kill game with a Bear Polar II." (Just ask Walt.) That should make it plenty clear that by "obsolete," I do not mean "no longer in use or useful," but rather "no longer current; outdated"--the latter of which comes straight from my Merriam-Webster. The older bows are unequivocally obsolete in this sense (just shoot one side-by-side with a good, new model). But if that's all you've got, God bless and by all means and please do. But if you're interested in a more current model, you may find the rules in the first section useful.

Nick,
You write: "Wish you guys would stick to teaching people the facts and how to be a better hunter...." Maybe you didn't get a chance to read the 25 rules that have nothing to do with buying a bow and everything to do with shooting and hunting better. Check them out. You might like them.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I love rule #17...most bow hunters would have laughed if they saw one of my set-ups last year! When I got to my hunting area, the wind was wrong for my normal stand location. However, there was a log pile next to spruce tree 15 yards from a shooting lane where deer were visiting an apple tree...so I stacked the logs up and made a seat, then I cut some of the spruce bows and stuck them in the ground to break up my outline a little bit. 10 minutes later my hunt was over! I made a perfect shot on a 2.5 y/o doe at 15 yards! :-)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ENO wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Good article to get pumped up for the bow season. Great point on accuracy vs. bells and whistles. Us bowhunters tend to miss the forest in the trees. Bowhunting is actually two sports in one, archery and hunting. In the past I've focused too much on the archery and not enough on the hunting.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great article, glad to see someone not biting onto the FPS hypes, and 10,000 dollar self aiming cable powered Cruise missle launchers. I use a parker wildfire and it kill deer like a little champ!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hansbrinks wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great list, but it's all obsolete if your bow set-up is not whisper quiet. I don't care how fast your bow shoots, if it's making noise on the draw back or release you have no chance on a calm day.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

All are very good tips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Field and Stream continues to show me new ways to improve my shooting and hunting skills with my bow from. Good tips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

All great reminders and tips!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jimzenger wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Great article. This will be my second year bow hunting. I especially like the tip about shooting does. I passed several last year. Looking forward to this season.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I recommend everyone use caution with rule #23. Know your hunting area and the deer densities in that area. Some places can handle high doe harvests, others can't. Every time you pull the trigger you are making a management decision that will affect your future hunts. Choose wisely, because the last thing I want to hear is, "There used to be all kinds of deer here back in the day, it's all DNR's fault for giving out all those doe tags!" No, it's your fault for using them without thinking about how it would affect your future hunting. Don't get me wrong, I fully support killing does, but I only support over-harvesting them. It's a hunter's responsibility to keep track of his or her own hunting scenario...not the DNR's.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blackdog1100 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

The season is too far away to get me excited like that, but its a great reason to practice!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

"but I only support over-harvesting them."

WHOOPS! This should read: "but I DON'T support over-harvesting them." I don't know how "only" got in there...guess I'll have to proof read my posts a little better :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Savageshot wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Front of center and how it affects flight like when you spoke about arrow spine, seems to me to be a basic rule that should have been mentioned.It may not make a difference at 20 yards but at 40 and 50 consistant arrow flight becomes a must.

Also if your going to post your articles on your website, why do i have a subscribtion again?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Nick Tramp- I agree with your statement, My dad killed deer for 13 years with a old martin firecat, that he bought already six years old, and would continue using it today if it had not popped the cable off the cam and cracked his limbs on a nice 8 point ( real heart breaker). I plan on using my parker for another 10 years!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

Right now I use a 80's bow that was my dad's. A marting eagle magnum. and this bow is just as fast as some of the new ones today. A little loud but i plan on fixing that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BippityBoopityMate wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

martin*

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SCoutdoorsmen93 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Ive been shooting my bow for three weeks getting ready for opening day (Sept. 1 only one more month!!!) Ive hunted for about 10 years now and this is my first bow season. Great article it helped me a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from SCoutdoorsmen93 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Ive been shooting my bow for three weeks getting ready for opening day (Sept. 1 only one more month!!!) Ive hunted for about 10 years now and this is my first bow season. Great article it helped me a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Eakin wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

This is a great article except for that bow-sales promoting line about bows older than 5 years are obsolete. I guess I should hang up my Mathews MQ-1 as an antique. I only took 17 deer with it last year after all.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labguy wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

I just replaced my bow this year. I had bought a used bowtech for $120 and used it for 5 years. I tried many bows all brands this year and to tell you the truth,I liked them all!I am not a brand seeking maniac. I went with the one that felt comfortable in my hand and my wallet.A bow is only obsolete when it sits in your closet unused.
Here in New England just getting an opportunity to shoot at a deer is special. That's why you don't see many hunting shows in New England.It doesn't make for good T.V when they can go for weeks without seeing deer. It's not that they are not there, its just that they are smart.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary M. Case wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Read this article, went got the bow, shot all day yesterday. Got the blood pumping. Excited for this years bow season. Thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nelson007308 wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Great article, this year will be my 15 year old son's first year hunting with a bow. We read this article together and he could not wait to get outside and try several of the tips out. Thanks, nothing like some father and son time doing something that will make memories for a lifetime.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark Fletcher Jr wrote 1 year 36 weeks ago

Great article! Lots of good tips and reminders of things that I need to work on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike0714 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

finally someone who actually understands how to shoot and hunt. like i have been staying in answers a fast bow is good but an accurate bow with a good heavy arrow is best. it is so refreshing to finally have a writer say it. also old bows are fine but the new parallel limb bows are better. there is a reason that Randy Ulmer is not shooting an old high country. if an old bow is all you have then use it but new bows are faster, more user friendly, and have a back wall. not nocking a martin eagle but bippity a bow from 1984 doesn't shoot anywhere never as fast as modern bows.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blevenson wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

I am still stuck in the stone age in the minds of most archers of today. I still shoot aluminum arrows. I started with them and I think I will continue to shoot with them. They are a heavier projectile and it does take off a bit of speed but they still do the trick. I also like how you give ground hunting credit. If you play the wind right and have a decent set up it will produce. I have seen many deer sitting on the ground. I haven't always gotten a shot at them but you can effectively hunt them on the ground. Sucks I won't be able to hit the woods this fall though since I am in Chile. I guess I'll have to give December a shot when I get home.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kilnbux wrote 20 weeks 1 day ago

There are many great new fast bows that are extremely accurate as well. Gotta try out those carbon arrows though. Speed closes your pin gaps and lessons your chance of yardage estimating resulting in a poor shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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