When bow hunting for the first time, one of the principles that are ingrained in your mind is the idea of an ethical shot. Basically, the idea of this principle is that any shot taken with a compound bow that is longer than between 30 and 40 yards was considered unethical because at that distance, accuracy is diminished, and the power of the arrow is also diminished. While it is possible that the hunter may hit his target, he may not hit it in a spot that will kill the animal immediately or with enough force to fatally injure the animal. Quickly though, this idea is becoming a thing of the past.
Recent advancements in compound bow technology have changed the way shooters are looking at what an ethical range is. Increased bow performance has made it possible for bow hunters from every corner of the planet to increase their shooting range.
Archers around the world are pleased with these developments for three reasons. First, shooting at a long-range target is a load of fun. Second, having a more powerful and more accurate bow improves accuracy when shooting at close-range targets. Third, having a longer effective range makes it possible for hunters to hit even more targets, hang more antlers on the wall, and enjoy more steaks on the grill.
A Good Bow Will Not Help Poor Form
It does not matter how technologically advanced your bow is, it will do you absolutely no good if you have not mastered a good shooting form. This becomes even more essential the farther away you are from the target. The farther away you are from the target, every little mistake you make becomes amplified. So, if your goal is to attain a level of proficiency that allows you to hit a deer further than 30 yards away, pay attention to some of the following tips to help you improve your accuracy, not only at the range, but also in the woods.
The Perfect Stance
A major part of developing the perfect stance is being comfortable. That being said, you are also going to want to have a stance that turns your feet into the perfect shooting platform. This means that you have to make sure that your feet are not too close together because this could lead to you feeling unstable and leaning either to the right or to the left. Additionally, you do not want your feet to be too far apart because, if they are too far apart, your body may wobble forward or backward.
The Goal: Shoot with Your Feet Shoulder Width Apart. If this is uncomfortable, try to shoot with your feet just past your shoulder width.
Obviously, a conventional stance is mostly good for shooting targets at a range. In the real world, it is unlikely that an elk or a deer is going to allow you to stand on your flat feet in the open and shoot it dead. This means that after getting a basic standing stance, you are going to have to practice shooting in different positions. One hunting stance I recommend can be achieved by first putting your feet together. Then kneel down, and allow your butt to sit on your heels. At first, this position may feel a little uncomfortable, but it will create a good platform from which to shoot from. This is a stance that many use with frequency when bow hunting.
A word of caution, when you first shoot in this stance, it is going to be relatively easy. However, the longer the amount of time you stay in this stance, the more tired your body will become. You are going to start to shake. So, in order to master this stance to the point where you can effectively use it while hunting, you are going to have to practice.
Get a Grip
When it comes to shooting a compound bow, a good grip is everything. If your goal is to be able to successfully hit your mark at long distances, you must first develop a good and proper grip. The first step in finding a good grip is finding a bow that works well with your hand.
My recommendation is using a bow that has a thinner grip. With a thin grip, you are able to put less torque on the bow. As a result, the bow is going to be more accurate. Another option is to customize or adjust the grip panels on your bow. Really, what you want is to have the grip to match up with the line that runs from the top of your hand, by your thumb, all the way through your palm.
When you have drawn the bow to a full draw, you should feel as if the bow is pushing into your palm. Now it is time to relax your grip a little. A mistake that some archers make is that if they want to shoot for longer distances, they apply a stronger grip to the handle. This is not what you want to do. You can’t forget that when shooting at longer distances, everything is amplified. So your goal is to have an extremely loose and open grip. You want the least amount of torque on the riser as possible.
Find a Good Anchor Point
Without a good anchor point, there is no accuracy. The question is, what part of the bow should be used as an anchor point? Many choose to use the kisser button. For others, using the kisser button as an anchor point is uncomfortable. So, how do you find a good anchor point? Get out there and shoot! The only way that you are going to find a good anchor point is by going out there and firing off arrow after arrow until you find a comfortable spot that can be used shot after shot.
Let’s Talk about Breathing
Attempting to shoot a target that is 100 yards, or the size of a football field, away can be very overwhelming. This is especially the case if this is your first time trying to do this. Nervousness makes people want to hold their breath. Don’t do this. If you do, you will fail.
If you hold your breath, you are not going to have a constant flow of oxygen going to your brain. Without oxygen, your brain will lose focus. Without oxygen, you will start to lose your visual acuity. Now, were not saying that you need to take deep gulping breaths. However, don’t stop breathing and cut off your oxygen supply.
Your Confidence and Your Accuracy
Believe it or not, there is almost nothing you can do to improve the accuracy of the shot while you are aiming. So many things can happen that are out of your control. You let the arrow fly, and a huge gust of wind comes by. You have the perfect form, you shoot at an animal, and right as the arrow leaves the bow, the animal jumps up and runs. There’s nothing you can do about this. What you can do though, is have confidence in your ability to execute a shot and execute the best possible shot regardless of the situation.
As a side note, do not fret about trying to hold the pin dead steady. If Robin Hood had a compound bow, it is unlikely that he could hold the pin dead steady. Most archers are going to let the pin float a little bit on the target and then start to squeeze.
It is very difficult to master the release. When you’re close to a target, let’s say within 30 yards and your release is not perfect, it’s only going to take you off your target a few inches. However, you step back to 80 or 100 yards, and now you have problems with the release. You might not even be able to hit the side of a barn.
To get a perfect release, you must condition yourself to make the best shot no matter where you are in relation to your target. This is a mental process. You have to mentally disconnect yourself from aiming and releasing. Shooters who use their index finger must focus on having their finger wrapped around the trigger. They must force the bow, or push the bow, in the direction of the target they are shooting, taking advantage of the power of their back muscles and their shoulder blades. The goal is to attain that coveted push and pull motion that all hunters talk about.
In a word, don’t drop your arm. It is natural to want to drop your arm as soon as you release the arrow to get a better view of where it is going. Do not do this. It takes practice and self-discipline, but the goal should be to keep aiming at the target until the arrow actually hits the target.