While the saying, “You won’t miss if you never take the shot”, may be true. There is even more truth to the fact that while you won’t miss, you will also never MAKE the shot if you don’t learn to take it. And herein lies another very old saying of “practice makes perfect”.
For years and years, I had this idea in my head that a bow shot over 40 yards was unfathomable. I mean who would attempt such a shot and risk wounding an animal? I for one was not going to be that person. As my years of shooting started adding up, the bows that were coming out were getting better and better. Now the idea of shooting farther began creeping into my head. Stories of other shooters doing it got me thinking. So why not try? Well I did and I was immediately elated and disappointed. Shooting past 40 yards was doable but it wasn’t pretty. Often I found myself stepping back to the 20-40 yard line. Of course this is where my shots were perfect. Once in awhile I’d step beyond 40 yards. Always negatively thinking that I stink from back here.
Force Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone
In 2015 I was forced outside of my little 40 yard comfort zone while preparing for a caribou hunt. I had asked the outfitter what kind of shot I needed to be prepared for. His response, “You should be comfortable out to 70 yards”. My heart sank but I dug my heels in and went to work.
From that day forward I have rarely practiced anything under 70 yards. What I discovered is to be 100 percent comfortable at a certain distance, I have to be shooting beyond that distance. Practicing at 80, 90 and even 100 yards makes the 70 yard shot feel like the 40 yard shot used to. Just a walk in the park.
The same can be said for weather elements. I used to try and shoot on perfect days, no wind, no rain etc. Well guess what, I have rarely had a “perfect” day to hunt. Now I shoot on the nastiest days I can. Even making it harder by shooting when I am exhausted. I want my muscles aching and trembling to resemble a nervous shot on a hunt.
How Many Perfect Days Do You Have In The Woods?
All of it was apparent this past May while on a bear hunt in Canada. Rain for 10 of 11 days. I was exhausted and my bow and hand were soaked. While I never got a shot at a bear I have no doubt in my mind my shot would have still hit its mark. This kind of practice may sound torturous, but I promise it will make you a better shot, as it did me.
In 2015, I shot my caribou at just over 50 yards in a stiff wind and dropped him almost exactly where he stood. So I will continue to push myself to “take” the crazy shots when practicing. When the opportunity presents itself I will be able to “make” that shot in the field.
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