So you love to hunt or want to hunt. And you want to use a “primitive weapon” such as a bow and arrow.
Here are the different types of bows:
- English Longbow
- Recurve bow
- Mongol bow
- Repeating crossbow
There are hunters with guns and hunters with bows and arrows. The reason you would want to choose a bow is to make it a very personal encounter with the animal. You have to come up close and so close that you might hear the animal breathe, or even see its hair moving in the wind.
If you would love to experience this, then you are on the right track. Archery is a specialized sport but with enormous satisfaction and a high sense of accomplishment. It is an extremely rewarding experience since every deer and every hunt is different.
Buying your first Bow
Buying your very first bow might seem challenging but you could be surprised as to how easy it is. In order to prepare physically and mentally for your first shoot, you will have to obtain your bow and arrow as quickly as possible.
Tips for purchasing your very first bow:
- Choose a bow that has a wide range of adjustments to make.
- These adjustments should also be easy to make. The bow should fit the shooter perfectly in order to work properly. It usually takes several rounds of adjustments to get a bow to work 100% for a new archer. You want this to be easily done and not struggle with complicated adjustment settings. This will easily discourage a new excited hunter.
- Look out for specials and do not overspend on your first bow. You still need some funds for extras and accessories.
While it seems to be a good idea investing on top of the range, high-quality arrows, it might not be necessary for a new archer to spend a fortune on this. There is usually a steep learning curve which includes losing arrows. For new-time archers, the basic carbon arrows will do perfectly well. They are tougher, quieter, and faster and are often cheaper than the aluminum ones.
In any hunting situation, the broadhead is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you could invest in. Its relevance is determined by the fact that no matter how much you spend on arrows, rests, releases, and targets, it is the broadhead that matters most when the arrow strikes an animal.
There are two main categories and two main things to consider when purchasing a broadhead:
- Fixed Blade Broadhead – the blades do not fold away which indicates that they offer greater penetration with a zero chance of blades not expanding.
- Mechanical Broadhead – such blades are tucked away until they strike a target. It is suggested that without blades sticking out it will fly more like a field point.
- Considerations when purchasing broadheads are accuracy and sharpness. You would want to choose blades that are as sharp as possible. Als,o choose blades that have similar characteristics to the field points you practice with.
For a beginner, a trigger-type release is a preferable option to choose. The wrist strap offers better control and can make drawing the bow easier.
Choose a safe option meaning one that takes intentional effort to open and closes when released. You should at the same time be looking for comfort in order not to make it an unpleasant experience.
The target itself could become a challenging decision for a beginner. They are either canvas, material filled with enough filling to stop an arrow, or they are made of layered foam.
Although bag-style targets are more cost-effective and transportable, they tend to wear out faster and will not stop a broadhead-equipped arrow effectively. The layered foam-style targets are more expensive but will last longer and most of them can be used for broadhead practice too. I found this layered foam target on Cabela’s that really works well if you are getting started.
Although it does seem out of the ordinary to start planning your first hunting trip in the summer, it is for sure the perfect time. Hunting season always comes sooner than expected and it is best to be prepared and ready. Physical preparations do take a while and therefore has to be initiated well in advance.
A basic level of physical fitness is required if you are about to take up bow hunting or hunt in a mountainous area where some degree of fitness is a requirement. Even if you only intend on practicing or hunting behind your house a few times, it would really help to be strong and flexible.
One option is going for regular workouts but the best preparation is still to get out there and actually do the activities. A few options to consider is to shoot your bow in your backyard. If that is not an option then pay a few visits to any archery in your area. Some people opt to set up a small corner in their garage by using a good backstop and target. Then simply draw your bow back and hold it as long as you can. This will strengthen the appropriate muscles and develop your endurance. Do this several times but be careful not to release the trigger. Bow hunting or archery requires a high level of focus and patience so do not rush it.
Once you have practiced this you are ready to actually shoot your bow. In the first few weeks, you should aim to do so a few times each week by shooting 10-12 arrows at a time. A good exercise for endurance is to draw and hold your bow back for up to three minutes before releasing the trigger.
We have mentioned working out to exercise specific and much-needed muscles.
Here are a few exercises for bow hunting to help improve your strength:
- Do upright and bent-over rows to help build your back and shoulder muscles in a way that’s very similar to actually drawing a bow.
- Working with front dumbbells: do raises with static holds. Hold a dumbbell-like you would hold the bow in front of you for as long as you can. This will develop your skills of stability when holding the bow.
- Remember flexibility and mobility are just as important. Do a few of the following stretches before and after your practice sessions:
- stretch each arm to the left and right, holding it with your other arm for 20 seconds. Then stretch them up high and rotate them down behind you as far as you can. Do a few repetitions of this.
- Now do some simple shrugs, moving your shoulders in a circular fashion forward and backward.
- Continue this movement with your arms, circling them around you. Gently pull your head in all directions to loosen your neck muscles. If you can discretely do these in the tree stand when you’re hunting, it will help to keep your muscles flexible and ready.
Since bowhunting is a close and personal experience it does take some courage and mental fitness. If you are excited about doing it then you are on your way to becoming a great hunter. If you do experience some doubt and fear then this is perhaps not the right time to be initiating it.
Visualization is a superb technique to mentally practice your first shot. It prepares you for the upcoming confrontation. The easiest way to do this exercise is to close your eyes and picture yourself shooting. Do this a few times every night before going to bed.
Picture yourself as being in a real hunting situation. Watch and feel how you close the distance and make the shot. Hear the sounds of the leaves under your feet, feel the emotions of seeing the animal walking nearby and imagine the results.
This is the most powerful exercise to enhance mental clarity and prepare you for the moment of reality. It is used widely in a variety of different sports.
Breathing Control – Breathing is extremely important since the more oxygen you get to your brain and to the muscles, the better your performance will be. It is a natural phenomenon to breathe shallow and hold one’s breath for longer when in stressful situations. This, however, will result in muscle fatigue and poor performance.
Practice controlling your breathing by taking in a breath of air with your trigger finger resting on the trigger. As you exhale the air, you slightly hold your breath and begin to squeeze the trigger.
Once you are mentally and physically prepared you are ready to buy your field gear.
Your Bowhunting clothes should have a proper fit. If clothes are baggy it could send the arrow off target when a released bowstring struck the clothes. It should also be durable since it should last for more than one season.
Items you will need:
- Hunting hoodie – such as the NOMAD CAMO Hoodie
- Pants such as the Nomad Dunn PRIMALOFT Pant
- Boots – should be sturdy, broken-in and fit your feet perfectly.
- Latex gloves
- Sharp knife
- Knife sharpener
- Bone saw