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How To Practice For Hunting Western States

Tracy Breen

If you are a Midwest or Eastern bowhunter heading West this fall, one of the most important things you can do is make sure you can keep your arrows in a pie plate size group at forty yards and beyond. For most Whitetail bowhunters (including me), the average shot taken in the field is inside thirty yards.

As a result, we often practice at thirty yards. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery of Minnesota has hunted all over the West and believes if bowhunters are heading west, they need to practice at long ranges.

“When bowhunting out west, a forty-yard shot is often the norm. Fifty- yard shots and beyond are common place,” Schaffer said. Schaffer regularly shoots his bow at distances of sixty yards and beyond. “Any flaw in a person’s shooting form is going to be more exaggerated at longer ranges. By practicing at longer ranges, archers quickly learn what they need to fix to keep a small arrow group.”

When shooting at great distances, any flaw in your bow setup will also be magnified. At thirty yards, almost any arrow setup will fly well. At seventy-five yards, if your arrows don’t weigh the same, if one or two of your arrows has a flaw or if your broadhead planes, you will quickly notice your group isn’t very tight.

When I pull a dozen arrows out of a box and fletch them up, often I have a few that don’t perform at longer distances. These arrows get thrown into a box and aren’t used for hunting. To make sure my arrows fly well and to make sure they all weigh about the same, I weigh each arrow on a grain scale.

I like each arrow to be within five grains of each other. Sometimes I have to screw on several different broadheads to get just a few that weigh the same. In the end by fine tuning my arrows, I end up shooting better.

To fine tune your overall accuracy, Schaffer believes every archer should spend lots of time shooting at fifty yards and beyond. “After weeks of shooting at fifty yards or greater, shooters will start to notice is a thirty-or forty-yard shot starts to feel like a piece of cake. When going out west, a person’s chances of success are greatly increased if they practice at fifty yards and beyond.”

When a bull elk is screaming and raking brush, your heart will be thumping, your hands will be shaking and your mind will be racing. The last thing you want to worry about is if you can make the shot.

Fine tune your setup, fine tune your shooting form and fine tune your long distance shooting. When the moment of truth arrives, your chances of taking home a trophy are much greater than if you only practiced at thirty yards all summer.

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Sponsored by: Schaffer Performance Archery


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