Sweat Now, It Pays Later

J. Guthrie

The thermometer outside is hovering around 100 degrees and you can’t walk from the car to your back door without breaking a sweat. This upcoming bow season is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you want to see more success come September, now is the time to practice.

There are some archers that can skip a summer’s worth of practice, pick up their bows and be in perfect shooting form a week before the season. But for the majority of us, it takes lots of practice to reach the level of proficiency bowhunting demands. Dusting off your bow a couple of weeks before season is just not going to cut it.

You end up trying to sight in and fine tune form in marathon shooting sessions that hurt more than help. Subtle form changes from shot to shot send arrows all over the target—changing your grip, anchoring a little higher or lower, even squeezing your release differently—and you end up making constant sight adjustments. Shaky muscles and dropped shots add to the frustration and hurt your confidence. Opening morning finds you doubting your setup and ability.

Last season after missing a couple of opportunities because I wasn’t confident in my abilities, I vowed to do better. About the middle of March, I headed out to my backyard for 30 minutes of practice. I haven’t made it out to practice everyday, but more often than not, I do. Sometimes I shoot longer, sometimes less, but it will add up to hundreds of hours of practice.

In the past months, I have sorted out several flaws in my form, changed my anchor point and fixed a hiccup or two with my gear. I no longer punch my release, but have programmed a smooth trigger squeeze into my brain. I have been able to turn my poundage up 10 pounds because my bow muscles are in terrific shape and the time I can hold my bow at full draw has increased exponentially. The best part is shooting at new spots on my target because the centers are shot out on the original target spots. There is nothing more satisfying that watching your arrows sink into inch-square spots on your target from 40 yards away.

This is probably old hat for some of the better archers out there, but it is an absolute revelation for me. The sweat and persistence now will pay off when that doe steps into a shooting lane 38 yards away, when that buck stops behind a tree and I have to hold my bow back for that extra 30 or 40 seconds. My confidence and ability is as good as it has ever been, and it just took 30 minutes of shooting every day or other day to get there. Sweat now, it pays later.

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