Archery season: Time to get ready

August 20, 2013 

For those that haven’t noticed the increase in morning traffic as those big yellow buses took to the streets this week, school has started, and that’s a surefire sign that my favorite part of the year is but a few short weeks away.

The 2013 archery deer season opens in mid-September!

Although there are some bowhunters that are serious enough about the sport that they shoot year-round in preparation for it, most of us definitely don’t fall into that category.

Quite a few, including me, don’t get serious about it until summer hits, but far too many never pull their bow out until the day before the season, take a few shots at a target in the yard and then consider themselves ready to climb a tree on opening day.

If you’re one of those, who do you think you’re fooling?

No, you don’t have to be one from that other group that spends days upon days with your bow in hand throughout the year to be successful come opening day but finding that success can come a lot easier and safety can be assured by doing a few things well in advance.

First and foremost, do you take the time to give your equipment a good overall inspection regularly? This is extremely important when you pull your bow out for the first time each year as both time and usage can be detrimental to it.

Checking things out

How does that bowstring look? Is it fraying? Are the servings in good shape? Even if they’re showing no signs of problems it’s very possible that your string still needs to be replaced since all of them stretch over time and, ultimately, lengthen your draw length, affecting the bows “shootability” and accuracy.

Many manufacturers recommend changing out the bowstring every two to three years, but Pete Shepley, founder of PSE archery and one of the foremost authorities on all things bow-related, takes that a step further, saying that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead and have a new one put on every year.

Especially when you consider things like there’s nothing more important than your safety, strings aren’t a huge expense and spending hours in a tree stand with an underperforming bow makes about as much sense as attempting to take a deer with a slingshot.

Is everything that’s mounted to your bow tight? A single shot from today’s highly efficient compounds sends a ton of energy through the system causing enough vibration to make even the smallest thing that’s loose sound like a train passing by.

If you have any doubts about your equipment, whether it’s how well it’s tuned or its overall condition, it only makes sense to tote it into your local pro shop and have a bow tech take a look at it.

Practice makes perfect

We’ve all heard that saying a thousand times and know it to be true. Repetition matched with good shooting form is key when it comes to making good archery shots. Much of what you’re doing becomes “muscle memory” and can go a long way in helping you accomplish the task even in the face of a bad case of nerves, better known as “buck fever.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to go out and shoot a hundred times each day to get to that point. The truth is that practicing too much actually works against you.

Head out to the yard and fling a few arrows until you start feeling tired. Even if you’re not feeling it, the exhaustion that’s creeping into your muscles will probably be showing in the way of arrow groupings that begin to get larger and larger. Whether you’ve shot only three arrows or three dozen at that point, stop and put the bow away for the day.

Try to slowly increase the number of shots that you can comfortably and accurately take each day and you’ll soon find yourself shooting more times than you’re able to count.

Most of us take these practice sessions from a standing position on the ground which hardly matches the true shooting scenario that we face during the season. If at all possible go ahead and hang a deer stand in your practice area so that you can best replicate an actual hunting scenario.

Fire a few while both standing and sitting. Move your target all around, even behind the stand, and vary the distances so that when that real shot that you’ve been waiting on actually presents itself you’ll be prepared and have no surprises. After all, those deer don’t work off of a script and things rarely happen as perfectly as we’ve envisioned them in our minds.

Note: If using one of the modern, layered foam targets that are most popular today, turn it on its side when shooting from a tree stand. This allows the layers to run vertically and increases the life of the target when shooting from a raised position.

Try a 3-D course

Although most archers these days make use of a rangefinder to determine distances for us when we’re hunting, things often happen so fast that there’s no time to make use of them.

In such a situation it helps a great deal if you’re able to make a pretty good guess on the fly and there’s no better way to become accustomed to judging distance than by taking some rounds on a 3-D archery course.

Owned by Clover native Ken Cobb, Robin Hood 3-D Archery Range in Rock Hill is perfect for getting in a lot of good practice and at $10 per round it’s affordable as well. You can get more information, along with their hours and address, on the website at

So don’t put it off! Every day that you wait to prepare your odds of pulling off that perfect shot dwindle.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.

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