If you’re here because you’ve decided to pick up a bow to use for hunting, first off, I applaud you. A bowhunter isn’t just a throwback hunter who uses old techniques, but someone who is looking for a different kind of challenge. Not only does bowhunting require discipline to master the fine art of archery, but he has to learn skills many hunters take for granted. It can be a daunting task, and maybe you look up to expert bowhunters and wonder if you could ever become like them. But even they started where you are, learning the basics of bowhunting.
While this won’t be a complete beginners’ guide, I aim to give you some of the best advice I know to help you on your way to become an expert bowhunter.
The first tip I have from you was given to me when I was learning to use the bow. I had come to the assumption that I had to build up my body so that I could handle a stronger more powerful bow so that I could be a better hunter. See, I’d heard stories about English longbowmen, some of the best archers in history, and how powerful their bows were, so I decided that I needed a powerful bow to become a better archer and bowhunter as well.
This isnt the case at all: you don’t need to have the heaviest bow you can get to become a good hunter. While it’s true that you may eventually need a heavier bow to take down bigger game animals, it’s not necessary to become a good bowhunter. What you do need is a bow that fits you well, one that feels comfortable in your hands. I would advise about 50-60 pounds for men, and 40-45 pounds for women; you should be able to pull it at the draw weight comfortably without straining. Other than that, you have to decide what feels balanced in your hands. Otherwise, a more powerful, heavier bow can actually throw off your aim.
The next tip I give you, you may have heard from a friend or instructor, and you will hear it from many other bowhunters as well: practice, practice, practice. Take the time to become familiar with your bow, and to improve your archery technique. Master the basics of taking an arrow, and shooting at a target at different ranges, focussing on the closer ranges that bowhunting will require. It will be tedious, and some bowhunters fail exactly because they consider it beneath their time and effort to practice. But it is the only way to become excellent, to become confident in your technique and your aim.
Concentrate on perfecting your form. With a target 10-15 feet away, take five or six arrows and shoot repeatedly, focusing on your form. Draw, then let the pin float and settle. Pull the bow with steady forward and rearward pressure. your goal is to have consistency from one shot to the next. Make a deliberate effort to master your form, even before you attempt to aim your shots. Once you feel confident that your form is consistent, you can begin shooting at targets, maintaining your form and consistency with each shot.