Four bowhunting/3-D experts provide tips you can put to practice to make 2022 your best year ever!
Did you have a dream season? Is your freezer full and your taxidermy bill high? If so, good for you. Possibly, however, you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe your season was a nightmare. One you’d just as soon forget. Either way, there is always room for improvement, and there’s no time like the present to get the 2022 ball rolling. As bowhunters, our goal should always be a clean, quick and ethical kill, and the advice to come from this sage group of veteran archers, if put to practice, will make you more efficient in the woods this fall.
One resounding theme, after sitting down with each of these stick-and-string gurus, was the importance of 3-D archery. While nothing can simulate an actual in-the-woods encounter, a competitive 3-D shoot gets the blood pumping and can spike the nerves. Settling your pin on a 50-yard bedded buck in front of your peers and executing a perfect shot is easier said than done.
When you can toe the line, control the butterflies and drop an arrow in the 10-ring, regularly, you’ll be that much more prepared for a heart-pounding big-buck encounter. In addition to reading and heeding the shooting tips to come, give serious thought to attending as many 3-D shoots as you can in the coming months, and if your able, hit a few on our must-shoot list.
His name is Yahsti Perkinskiller, and he’s one of the best archers I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting with. A master of controlling the mind and executing flawlessly during crunch time, Yahsti is known for his get-it-done ability in the woods and on range. His harvest list is long and distinguished, and his 3-D accolades include wins at the North American Indigenous Games and the Red Deer Valley Shoot in Canada, which is Canada’s largest and most prestigious 3-D shoot.
“The time is now,” Yahsti said. “Now is the time to stop doing what you’ve been doing for years. For many, that includes grabbing a bow that is too long with too much draw weight and going out and shooting arrow after arrow. Doing this actually leads to regression. It leads to making bad habits worse. If the bow is too long, extra movement is required. Having to tuck or raise your chin or move your head in any way to get your nose to the string is an unnecessary step. We want a draw cycle that includes as little movement as possible.
“In addition, if you can’t hold your bow out in front of you and pull it straight back with ease, you’re pulling too much weight. Too much weight means having to lower or raise the bow to reach full draw. Again, this is extra movement. Not to mention the fact that it will lead to injury, and at times, because of weather conditions or nerves, not being able to pull the bow back at all.
“Take the time to truly find a bow that fits you. If you plan to stay with your current model, make sure it fits you perfectly. Take the time to get your draw length exactly right. This may include adjusting your cam modules or doing some tinkering with your cables. Find where you want to be in your anchor — where it feels most comfortable — and take a measurement on a horizontal line from the corner of your lip to the throat of the nock.
Do this until you find the ideal measurement. This will be one that allows you to reach full draw and not have to peek up or down to center the peep. Don’t get frustrated. I cut my loop off seven times during my most recent setup. Now is the time to do this stuff. Now is the time to build perfection. If you’re not confident with your tuning abilities, visit your local pro shop and have them help you achieve your perfect draw length.
Get the most out of your equipment and shoot as many 3-D shoots as you possibly can in the coming months. Remember, that deer will be at his very best. You better work your butt off to make sure you’re at your best as well.”
A legend in the world of archery, Tim Gillingham works tirelessly each year to make sure his arrows are lethal in the woods and find the 12-ring on the foam he shoots.
“If I had to give one tip that archers need to do this offseason, it would be to surround themselves with great shooters,” Tim said. “If you want to shoot better, shoot around and get tips from the guys and gals that are consistently getting done on the range and in the field. Most of these people are great teachers, and love to pass along what they know. If you surround yourself with the best archers you can find, you will become like them.”
Of course, Tim, being a gear guru, had some other helpful tips archers can do this offseason as they start to prepare for the fall of 2020.
“I love shooting today’s high let-off bows,” Gillingham said, “but I just shoot better when I’m shooting a higher holding weight.” “During these offseason months, tinker with the holding weight on your bow. I say this for a pair of reasons.
First, the more tension there is in a system, the harder it is to make a mistake. Another thing a higher holding weight will eliminate is your dwell time. Dwell time isn’t a good thing. If you have to wait micro-seconds for the arrow to load up once you trigger the release, the more negatively you can influence the shot.
When I have a high let-off, I really have to make sure and follow-through a lot better. When I have higher holding weights, the arrow hits where the pin is. I hold 22 pounds with my target bow, and while this is a bit much for the hunter, I do recommend around 17 pounds of holding weight for the bowhunter. I challenge you to play with your holding weight. Remember, those who try nothing learn nothing.
“I also recommend playing with the mass weight of your bow. This will be accomplished with your stabilizer setup. When your nerves are jangled on the 3-D course or your knees start knocking because your target buck walked out, nothing will help you stay on target like mass weight.
Play with the length and weight of your front and rear stabilizers. If you can find ideal mass weight and marry that weight with a solid holding weight, you’ll be on your way to better shooting.
“Lastly, tinker with your arrow weight. Again, if an arrow is too heavy, it stays in the bow longer and gives you more time to influence the shot. Know your gear and learn your gear.”
Mr. Prime Time
One of Prime Archery’s top pro shooters, Kenny Lantz performs in the woods and on the competition trail. Aside from the numerous game animals he’s piled up over the years, Kenny won the IBO World Championship and National Triple Crown in 2007. In 2009, he struck gold in the prestigious Southern Triple Crown. Most recently, Kenny topped the podium at last year’s ASA in Foley, Alabama. When it comes to handling the pressure and performing, Kenny had this to say.
“There are so many great accessory products on the market today. I really feel guys and gals are doing themselves a disservice if they don’t get out there and test some stuff. If you’re not happy with your sight, rest, stabilizer or whatever, find one you are happy with. In archery, confidence is everything. You may need to play with your peep aperture so that every time you pull back your bow, your housing is perfectly centered. There are so many different things you can do.
Kenny realizes, when it comes to archery, there are different strokes for different folks.
“I could recommend switching to a hinge or thumb-activated release, and while that may help some, it won’t help everyone. What will help the archery masses is to shoot with others. Shoot with buddies and make small wagers for fun. Get the blood pumping and learn how to deal with the jitters.
Join a league at your local pro shop. Few things, in my opinion, boost accuracy like spot shooting. You can make a bad shot on a 3-D target and still hold a 10. If you make a bad shot at 20 yards on a spot target, you’re out of the X. Learn to aim small and miss small.
In addition, jump in some 3-D tournaments. Getting out and walking a course is great exercise, and you’re getting to shoot at lifelike animals in hunting-type scenarios. The more 3-D you shoot, the easier it becomes to block out the noise and just focus on making one good shot, and that’s what you need to do in the woods.
You spend your work vacation chasing game, and when you get that opportunity, you want everything to be muscle memory. Though you can’t replicate the feeling of shooting at a live animal, you can train your body and mind to block everything out and focus on making a good shot.”
Phil Mendoza is the owner of No Limits Archery in Denver, Colorado, and is a certified archery coach. Over the years, I’ve taken a lesson or three from Phil, and can testify to the fact that his knowledge is sound. In addition to his coaching, Phil is a top-tier bowhunter and was the first-ever Train To Hunt National Champion.
Phil’s tip, while as he put it, “ is a tad less sexy,” is paramount to becoming a more proficient archer.
“You need to journal, and record keep,” Phil said. “You need to create an archery journal. This includes journaling your daily shooting, competition shooting and your hunts. As you begin preparing for 2020, write down your progress. Be honest with yourself and take note of what you need to improve on and what’s going well.
As the weeks and months roll by, you can and need to look back at your journal and track your progress. Having weeks, months and eventually years of notes to look back on will give you a solid baseline to go off. You can look back and see how you’re improving.”
Real advice from some real good shooters. What you do with it is up to you. Remember, next year can be better, even if last year was border-line perfect. As archers, there are always things we can do to take our shooting and our success to the next level.
Jace Bauserman in an outdoor writer, adventurer,