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Maintain mid-season form.

Most archery hunters are so excited before the season starts that they practice every chance they get. However, once opening day comes and goes, practice becomes less appealing and soon all the benefit they received from months of practice begins to erode away.

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Don't let this be your pattern. Even the best habits disappear if you don't take the time to reinforce them. Daily practice during the hunting season is the most important step you can take to maintain form and confidence.

The strength required to draw and aim in a relaxed, steady way is not something built up naturally in daily life. The muscles we use in archery are not muscles we use for many other activities, so they need training to stay strong. The best way to keep shooting muscles strong is to shoot.

In the same way, the ability to focus on a small spot as you aim and squeeze the trigger slowly is an unnatural habit that requires constant reinforcement.

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Several of my friends shoot with me during the summer as we all prepare for the season. They become darn good shots by opening day. They are using perfect form all the way through the shot. Yet, some of those same guys turn back into twitching trigger-slammers just two months later. A lack of practice has replaced all their good habits with the same old bad habits they worked so hard to break. I can't emphasize this too much: You have to practice during the season if you hope to execute well when the shot finally arrives.

As a minimum, practice enough during the season to maintain your form. That means you should make it a goal to shoot 20 to 30 perfect arrows every second or third day. Take your time and shoot each one with maximum concentration. Be realistic; wear your hunting jacket, gloves and facemask (if you use one) so you'll be accustomed to the feel, encumbrance and sight picture that you will face under real hunting conditions.

As the weather gets colder and the clothing becomes thicker, this type of practice is even more important. Don't try to make your practice sessions easy. Make them realistic so you are ready.

Shots that seemed easy during the summer may begin to seem difficult by mid-season. While practicing, mix in shots from your maximum effective range, and spend the time to troubleshoot and correct any bad habits that may creep into your form. The most common culprits of a mid-season shooting slump are trigger punching, dropping your bow arm during the shot (or right after), tension in your bow hand (or snapping it shut during the shot) and waning physical strength.

Stick with the fundamentals and be thorough. Don't let any bad habits creep into your shooting now. If practice time is limited, don't rush through 30 arrows; instead shoot fewer arrows, but give each one of them total concentration.

Broadhead Practice

Unless you shoot mechanical broadheads and are satisfied that they fly exactly like your field points, you should do most of your in-season practice with broadheads. This will improve confidence and allow you to identify problems on the range that might not show up when shooting field points. Broadheads are more sensitive to arrow flight problems than field points. A slight change in arrow flight can have a big affect on broadhead accuracy, but little affect on field point accuracy. So, be sure to use broadheads.

Bulky Clothes

Thick clothing is an unfortunate reality of late fall and winter bowhunting. Two problems result. First, you find that all those layers bind your arms and shoulders making it hard to reach full draw. Second, thick sleeves find their way into the path of the bowstring.

Wear a thick vest to eliminate layers from your arms. That will free up your draw and help reduce bowstring interference. If you still have a problem, find an armguard. Only by practicing in your heavy clothes will you know what to expect when hunting, and only then will you be fully prepared.
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Title Annotation:FullDraw
Author:Ulmer, Randy
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:679
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