By Jared Bloomgren
With the bow seasons 2012 fading away and spring seasons of 2013 just around the corner, many of us are left with the anxious feeling of what to do next!? For many this causes some extreme anxiety as well! The past seasons are always engrained in our minds and 2013 seasons will be here before we know it. This applies even more to those that do not hunt during the spring time. Now is not the time to let your shooting fall to the back seat! There is never a time for that for the serious archer…..
The past seasons are slowly fading away and leaving those important memories and lessons burned into our minds forever; we are left with the “off season blues.” Now is the time to freshen up a few of our skills while patiently waiting for the next season. Many people hang their equipment up and leave it alone until just before the next season. However, this is when it is a good time to sharpen up on your shooting skills. It will pay off in the future seasons to come.
I find it very comical when someone comes up to me and when asked how the shooting has been going I get a reply along the lines of, “I only pull the bow out to shoot it just before season to make sure it is still on.” The customer is always right, right? Well not in this case, I just smile and say that I disagree with their thinking 100%. Generally they are very receptive and listen to what I have to say and why I feel that way. So what is there to do during the off season I am often asked?
This may include some 3-D shooting, league shooting, outdoor ranges, or getting together with some friends in the back yard and flinging a few arrows while telling hunting stories. Although 3-D shooting is hard to beat, if you don’t have the time to get away and commit to these events like I do, there are other options. Something I enjoy doing during the off-season is what I like to call “spot shooting.” Others may know this as “stump shooting.” There is no set schedule, just whenever you can get away.
Now I know when I say “spot shooting” most instantly think about punching paper at a spots league from 20 yards or something similar. But not this guy! Nope…..think of shooting that will challenge you with various scenarios and shot situations. Various stance and positions, standing and sitting. Listen up!
This is something I have been doing for quite some time now and it helps me out a great deal. I got this idea when I was younger. I would go hiking or go for walks in the outdoors looking for sheds or scouting for future seasons. I got to thinking, “Why don’t I carry my bow with me and shoot at different spots while I was out?” This has helped me a great deal with range judgment. (Keep in mind this should only be done away from people in secluded and/or designated areas.)
You are offered with many different shooting scenarios in changing terrain and conditions. Simply pick out a dark patch of grass, a cow pie (preferably dried up), mounds of dirt, or anything you can find to shoot at that won’t ruin your arrow! The possibilities are endless! Also just an FYI, rocks are not a good choice for obvious reasons. But it never fails that I usually end up finding the rock that I am not looking for from time to time.
But no matter what you decide, one does come across patches of rocks that are unseen by the eye. Trust me, you will go through a few arrows but if you pick your spots wisely it will keep broken and/or bent arrows to a minimum.
I have found carbons to be more forgiving for this type of shooting for obvious reasons. Aluminum tends to bend pretty easy as we all know because it retains memory. The nice thing about carbon arrows is: if they are not broke they are usually good to go. I flex check my arrows often to avoid downfalls. I also tip my carbons with 100-grain Zwickey judo points or some style of rubber blunt. This will keep your arrows from skipping into the next county. The judo tip usually makes it quite easy to find your arrow after the shot. The tip does not allow the arrow to completely bury itself under grass or dirt. But don’t get me wrong; the judo tip does not make your arrow invincible to loss. I have plenty lying around out there as well as many busted arrows to prove this. Despite the loss of arrows, I feel this hobby has helped me out a great deal with range judgment and depth perception as well as different shooting positions and elevations.
I will also use my broadheads every chance I get as well. There is nothing like using your hunting set-up year round to perk your confidence in your ability and equipment. There are also rabbits and squirrels that you may run across while hiking, scouting, or shed hunting that all taste pretty good! Prairie dog towns are also another fun place to practice hitting small targets at extended ranges! They don’t taste near as good as a rabbit though!
So even if you shoot league, go to 3-D shoots, or fling arrows in the backyard, and/or you just simply want to try something different to put a bit of a spin on your shooting, try “spot shooting,” it just may be something the “off-season blues” called for…below are a few things I do.
When I go on a family hike or with friends you will see me toting my bow along. It is a great way to sharpen up my skills and keep on my A game. I like to think of my bow as an extension of me. I often times get weird looks from others on hiking trails but if they are bowhunters they often think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
It is also fun to get together with a few buddies and go for a long hike. Each person takes turns picking out what they want to shoot at along the way. Usually the one who makes the least effective shot goes and retrieves everyone’s arrows in an attempt to redeem themselves on the next shot. I also like to carry a pack with weight in it to help learn the best ways to shoot with a pack on and the additional weight and how to maintain your form and balance. The various shot scenarios will help you determine how to keep the correct form when shooting angled shots. It is a fun way to add a little competition all while increasing your effectiveness.
Another thing I like to do while out is to push myself in order to get my heart rate racing and my breathing going full force. Quickly look around and pick something to shoot at and take the shot while huffing and puffing. This helps me to control my breathing while completing that shot. There have been numerous times that this has happened while hunting. Knowing how to shoot under these conditions can reap big rewards for you in a future hunt.
So this spring I will be out shed hunting, this summer I will be out scouting, I will be hiking, getting myself in shape, fixing fence, etc….the options are endless, but you will find me with my bow right there with me as I sharpen up on my shooting. Will you?!
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”
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