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PSE’s Georgianna Braden Says Women Archers Are Welcome in Hunting Camps


Ladies in Archery

PSE’S Georgianna Braden

Editor’s Note: Georgianna Braden of Houston, Texas, is a petite, pixie like lady. You’d never consider her as one of the top female archers, if you saw her on the street or in the courtroom. She is not only a tournament archer, but also an avid bowhunter and an advocate for women’s archery. Georgianna, who’s been shooting a bow for 7 years, and her husband Michael are both members of the PSE Pro Staff.

Georgianna, how are you accepted when you go into a hunting camp with all men or maybe only one or two ladies?
Braden: All the guys are super friendly. They understand that I’m serious about bowhunting, and they’re very welcoming. I get the impression that in most bowhunting camps, guys would like to see more women in the sport. They’d like ladies to understand what hunting is all about, and why they have such a passion for bowhunting.

Georgianna, how do you feel about you and your husband hunting together?
Braden: Many times Michael and I hunt in a pop up blind. We take turns hunting and running the video camera, because we try to film all our hunts. This way we can hunt together and still be in the same blind together. We can get excited for each other, share the hunt and both be successful. One of us can take the animal, and the other can get the hunt on the video, so we both go home with a trophy, a great video and a great animal. This way we can be together in the outdoors and participate in a sport that we truly enjoy. Michael and I enjoy being with each other.

Why do you film all your hunts?
Braden: We like to share our hunts with other people, and we think a video is a much better keepsake of the hunt than just a picture with the animal we’ve harvested. We’ve found that the video allows us to relive our hunt anytime we want to, with whomever we want to share that experience.

 

Couple Hunters

PSE’S Michael Braden

How did you learn to become a videographer?
Braden: Two days before we were leaving for our honeymoon, we received a video camera. We were going to South Africa for a bowhunt. Michael spent the entire plane ride reading the manual and learning about the camera, and when we arrived at our hunting camp, Michael gave me a quick lesson on how to use it. We both learned to run the camera through trial and error. We really like hunting together, because we have the opportunity to share the same experiences. We get to watch the animals come in, and we get to share in the process of what happens before, during and after the shot. Another advantage that we have is that with two of us in a blind, we have another pair of eyes looking for game. We also can notice things that the other hunter may not see.

Michael and I are each others biggest fans. We go through the joy of a successful hunt together and the depression of a missed opportunity with each other. When I’m in the blind running the camera, I am focusing on the animal just like he is. As I look at that animal, I feel like I am aiming the bow for him. I go through this same range of emotions when Michael is in a shoot off in an archery tournament. My stomach gets in knots and I try to focus on the target, focus on Michael and mentally aim for him. When I won the Indoor Nationals, Michael was the first person to get to me and give me a hug. That’s a great feeling for us to share. We go through the same emotions that any family does if a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a mother or a dad is a competitive athlete. Because we both compete, we understand how much time, energy and effort we put into practicing and trying to get better. When one of us is on the line in a major competition, we understand the number of hours and sweat equity that person has expended to get to that position, and we can cheer for them.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


Michael Braden’s Longest and Shortest PSE Shots


Long Shot

PSE’S Michael Braden

Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, started shooting with PSE in the early 1990s, turned pro, shooting a PSE bow, in 1996, and won the ASA Rookie of the Year. Then in 2009, he came back to be a part of the PSE Pro Staff and has been shooting for PSE ever since, besides coaching shooters.

Michael, when you’re hunting, what’s the maximum distance and closest distance at which you feel proficient?

Braden: I do my best to keep my shots as close as I can possibly get them. That being said, you have to consider the game you’re hunting and the location and the terrain where you’re hunting. For me when I’m hunting Texas whitetails, I try to get the deer inside 30 yards. I think the deer out at 30 and 40 yards can react to the bow and possibly jump the string. When you’re getting deer in close, you have another problem with the deer being able to see, smell and hear you. But, as you begin to hone your skills as a hunter, you can get a white tailed deer within 20-25 yards regularly. That’s a good range for a bow shot. So, even though I can take a 30 yard shot, I prefer to have the deer within 25 yards or less.

What’s the longest shot you’ve ever had to make?

Braden: I shot a really nice mule deer in northern Colorado at 72 yards. I was in a pop up blind, seated in a chair, and the animal had no idea I was there. The deer was relaxed and feeding, and I came to full draw several times, but then let down because the shot wasn’t just right. I know there are many people who take shots that long and longer, and at that place and at that time, I felt confident to make the shot. On a bigger animal like an elk or a moose that’s won’t react as quickly as a whitetail, you may be able to push your goal distance out to 30 or 40 yards. But my main thought is that I want to make sure that the animal will be where I’m aiming when the arrow arrives at that spot. You can take long shots if your ability and the weather and terrain conditions allow you to take those shots. I practice at distances of more than 100 yards.

To get ready for bow season, always practice beyond the distance at which you plan to take an animal. For instance, if you say, “I only want to take an animal at 30 yards or less,” then I’ll recommend that you practice at 40 and 50 yards. Then when you do have that 30 yard shot at animal, you’re not thinking, “This is the outer limits of where I feel comfortable shooting.” If the animal is at 30 yards, and the bowhunter has been practicing at 40 or 50 yards, then the hunter thinks, “Thirty yards isn’t a problem, because I’ve been practicing at 40 and 50 yards. I know I can make that 30 yard shot.” Being efficient as a bowhunter has a lot to do with how confident you are when a shot presents itself, and by practicing at shots longer than you plan to take. Then you can build confidence in your ability when you do get a shot. Always practice at longer distances than you plan to shoot.

Short Shot

PSE’S Michael Braden

What about the short shot?

Braden: Most people don’t practice the short shot, a point that’s drastically demonstrated in competition archery. The best professional archers in the country usually miss the short targets more often than the long targets, because very few people really practice short shots. To be a better bowhunter, you need to practice at every distance that you may have to shoot.

What distances do the pros miss when they’re shooting short shots?

Braden: Usually 25-28 yards. In competitions we rarely have shots shorter than 25 yards, but every once in a while tournament directors will put a target out at less than 10 yards. For instance, at the tournament at Redding, California we shoot a 4 yard butterfly target. I advise bowhunters to practice a 4 yard shot, since to make that shot, you’ve really got to know your equipment and how to aim. When I was in Redding this year, I shot the 4 yard butterfly for 47 yards. In other words, I aimed at the butterfly the same way I aim at a 47 yard target. When you’re taking this shot, your arrow is much lower than your line of vision. So, your arrow takes off well below your line of sight. Right out of the bow, you’ll hit extremely low if your bow’s sighted for 20 yards. Your arrow will come out of the bow below that 20 yard pin. But, at 8-12 yards, your arrow will impact a target behind your 20 yard pin. Then it will climb slightly and start its descent for the rest of its flight. So, your 20 yard pin will hit dead on somewhere between 8-12 yards and out to 20 yards, but once you get inside of 8 yards, your arrow will hit low. You have to give the arrow more yardage when you’re aiming to hit dead on at 4 yards. Professional archers practice that 4 yard shot for the Redding shoot a lot, because the worst thing that can happen to a competitive archer is to miss a 4 yard shot. So, when you’re out shooting 30 yards plus, don’t forget that sometimes a deer will be right under your tree stand, or a big buck may be within 5 yards of your ground blind. If you don’t practice those two shots, more than likely your arrow will hit between the deer’s legs. Good luck this bow season, and I hope I’ve helped you.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


Michael Braden Chooses Bowhunters First Bow


PSE Archery Compound Bow

PSE’S Michael Braden

Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, started shooting with PSE in the early 1990s, turned pro, shooting a PSE bow, in 1996, and won the ASA Rookie of the Year. Then in 2009, he came back to be a part of the PSE Pro Staff and has been shooting for PSE ever since, besides coaching shooters.

Michael, for a person who will start bowhunting this season, what bow do you recommend and why? I know that we have to consider the draw length and the weight that this new bowhunter can pull, but generally, what’s a good bow for a beginning bowhunter?

Braden: I really like the PSE EVO and believe it’s probably the best bow for most people getting into the sport of bowhunting. Its draw length is adjustable, and you can get the poundage light enough to start with so the individual can shoot the bow comfortably. You have to consider that when an archer first starts pulling a bow, he or she will not be using muscles that are used daily. But, as they begin to use those muscles, they’ll build that muscle strength fairly quickly. For that reason, buying a bow that’s light enough for you to start with and shoot accurately with is important. As your muscles get stronger, you don’t want to have to buy a new bow to compensate for your added strength. For instance, if you can only pull 50 pounds comfortably when you first start shooting your bow, within a few months, if you practice, you’ll build your strength up and be able to shoot a 60 or 65 pound bow. That’s the reason I like the EVO – it allows the hunter to dial the weight down, so he or she can pull the bow, shoot accurately and begin to build his or her muscles. Then by the time bow season comes in, the archer should be stronger than he or she was at the beginning and may want to increase the poundage. The EVO has the adjustments to let the archer do this. This bow will take an archer from being a beginner to being a top flight bowhunter without ever having to buy another bow. You can get a bow that maxes out at 60 pounds, but you can turn it down to start with to 47 or 49 pounds. There’s about a 10 to 12 pound range of adjustment.

PSE Hunts

PSE Bow Hunting

How much weight does a person really have to be able to pull in order to efficiently harvest a white tailed deer?

Braden: With the bows we have today, you could take a deer with a 40 pound bow. We don’t have to pull those heavy draw weights of 60-80 pounds like we did in the old days to be efficient as a hunter. Many men feel they have to pull the biggest, heaviest bows that are made, but you can harvest any animal on the North American continent with a 60 pound PSE bow. You just have to make sure what the laws require in each state where you will be hunting, as far as the bow weights that a hunter can use.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


PSE’s Michael Braden on Teaching Shooters


PSE Compound Bows

PSE’S Michael Braden

Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, started shooting with PSE in the early 1990s, turned pro, shooting a PSE bow, in 1996, and won the ASA Rookie of the Year. Then in 2009, he came back to be a part of the PSE Pro Staff and has been shooting for PSE ever since, besides coaching shooters.

Michael, when a bowhunter comes to you and says, “I’ve been bowhunting for several years, and I want you to check me and my bow out to help me learn to shoot better this year,” how do you coach this person?

Braden: Each piece of the puzzle on how to shoot better is just as important as any other piece of the puzzle. Shooting better is not only about your equipment, but your form and all the elements that go into shooting accurately. I always start with the archer first. I want the archer to understand his or her shot sequence, his form and the execution of a good shot. Next, I want to help strengthen his ability to hold the bow at full draw and aim correctly. Archery is an individual sport, so you have to make sure that the individual is married to a bow that fits his or her individual needs. For me, the first considerations are draw weight and draw length. I start out by making sure that the archer can pull the bow easily and comfortably, and that the draw length is matched perfectly to the individual. The archer is the core part of shooting accurately. Therefore, the equipment has to fit that individual as perfectly as possible. If the archer feels good about his form, shot sequence, bow mechanics and execution, he’ll feel much better about releasing the arrow when an animal presents a shot. Once the archer is in good shape for bow season, then we start considering different equipment and why the archer may shoot better with certain types of equipment rather than other kinds of equipment. We match the arrow and the broadhead to each bow and each archer.

We’re seeing a lot of women coming into the sport of archery, and especially into the sport of bowhunting. One of the most limiting factors seems to be the ladies’ concern about the strength required to pull bows. How do you usually start a lady in the sports of archery and bowhunting and convince her that she can become proficient enough to be a bowhunter?

Braden: Women, like men, come in different shapes, sizes and strength levels. I feel that the most important consideration when teaching a lady to shoot a bow is to start out shooting very light poundage, so she instantly sees that she can draw and hold a bow. She doesn’t have to be a super strong athlete. We have to make sure that the bow is not intimidating to a lady interested in the sport of archery. I want a lady to be able to draw the bow really comfortably, even if I need to start her out on a very low draw weight. As new archers begin to shoot their bows, they will build muscle strength very quickly. If they shoot and practice regularly, they will build muscles they don’t use every day. Through practice and repetition, they will strengthen and hone those muscles, so they can move up in poundage relatively quickly. I think their shooting enough arrows in practice sessions to learn something new every time they practice is very important. If they only can draw the bow back five times before they’re fatigued, they won’t be able to shoot enough arrows to progress quickly as archers. A beginner who only can get off 3-5 shots in a practice session will be very intimidated.

If you had a lady come to you and say, “I want you to teach me to shoot the bow,” and you didn’t know her already or know how strong she is, what weight of bow will you start her with, and how many arrows will you want her to shoot in a practice session?

Braden: I’d start her pulling a bow weight in the mid  to the upper 20 pound range and know that the lady make sure she could draw this weight comfortably. Hypothetically, I’d like to have a lady shooting 25-30 pounds and possibly shooting 30-40 arrows in a practice session, if she can shoot that poundage and that many arrows comfortably. From that baseline, we’ll begin to build her skill, muscle memory and the amount of weight she pulls.

How fast can you take this new lady, who never has shot a bow before, and have her hitting the target at 20 yards?

Braden: Within hours. Learning to shoot accurately, even for a beginner who’s never shot before, doesn’t take nearly as long now as it did several years ago. Today we have better equipment, better targets and better teaching methods. One of the big improvements in the speed at which a beginner learns is our ability to get the newcomer fitted correctly with the right bow. In past years, many newcomers would just buy a bow and try to learn to shoot it. Today, we teach, “Let’s see which bow you can shoot most comfortably and enjoy shooting, and then make the buying decision.” If the student is fitted properly with the right bow, he or she can be proficient enough to hunt in an extremely short time.

How many coaching sessions do you think would be required to take a person who’s never shot a bow before to a level of proficiency that allows that person to bowhunt?

Braden: I think 2-4 months of consistent practice and building up strength, understanding and knowledge of the sport, is enough time for anyone who really wanted to learn to bowhunt to become proficient enough to go into the field and take game when bow season arrives.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


Michael Braden Discusses Young and Old Archers – PSE Has a Bow For Everyone


PSE Archery Bows

PSE’S Michael Braden

Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, started shooting with PSE in the early 1990s, turned pro, shooting a PSE bow, in 1996, and won the ASA Rookie of the Year. Then in 2009, he came back to be a part of the PSE Pro Staff and has been shooting for PSE ever since, besides coaching shooters.

Michael, you shoot almost all the disciplines of competitive archery, and you also coach almost all the disciplines. Why do you like competitive archery so much?
Braden: I guess it’s because archery fits everyone. There are categories of archery for every age, gender and skill level. There’s no reason that anyone can’t shoot competitive archery. We’ve even proven this with our physically impaired athletes – many of them compete in the Paralympic Games. So, there are no physical or age barriers that prevent anyone from coming into the sport.

Say you know a +65 year old man who’s retired, has bowhunted most of his life and wants to consider the possibility of shooting 3D archery now that he’s got some time on his hands. How are you going to teach him to shoot target archery?
Braden: The first step is to identify his draw length, and how much poundage he can pull comfortably. By using different cams, we can test some different draw cycles to find the one with which he’s most comfortable. If this gentleman can pull 55-60 pounds comfortably, that will open a number of doors to different types of bows and setups that he may enjoy shooting. He can buy a bow with a moderate draw cycle and use a faster cam. I think draw length and poundage that the person is comfortable with are the first and most important factors to consider when getting anyone into competitive archery. Then, we need to determine how harsh a cam he can draw comfortably. If he has a longer draw length and can pull fairly heavy poundages, he has the option of shooting almost any PSE bow. If he has a shorter draw length and can’t pull a lot of weight comfortably, we’ll look at some shorter axle to axle bows with lower brace heights, to help him get some speed out of his bow that he may need to be competitive. When we’re talking about target archery, one of the most critical factors is making sure that the bow fits the archer, and not trying to make the archer fit the bow.

Hunting at any Age

PSE Bow Hunting

As an archery coach, who is the oldest person you’ve ever coached to shoot competitive archery?
Braden: I had an older doctor friend of mine, and his objective was to be a proficient bowhunter. Money and time were no objects. He asked me to help him become the best bowhunter he could be, and I spent time preparing him for several different hunts. He went on his first grizzly bear bowhunt when he was in his mid-70s, and he had a successful hunt. He also took a moose with his bow on that hunt. At that time, he was pulling about 60 pounds.

Let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum. How early do you start working with young archers?
Braden: I start with a youngster whenever he or she is old enough to pay attention and learn. I taught a youngster for several years, who is now 16 or 17, and she’s doing really well in FETA and NAA competitions. She also made the United States Junior Archery Team and will represent the United States at the Olympics in London. I also have my nieces shooting archery in their schools. I started them shooting when they were 10-12 years old, what I believe that 10-12 years old is a really good age to start a youngster shooting bows, They’re old enough to understand what you’re trying to teach them, and they learn quickly. They pay attention. Too, that’s the age when they’re exploring a lot of different sports.

With what bow would you start a youngster?
Braden: Both my nieces are shooting the PSE Chaos. PSE has this bow in a one cam or a two cam, so the youngster, coach or parent can choose which one of these two setups the youngster is prefers. I like the Chaos for youngsters, because it’s lightweight, the draw cycle is not very harsh, and the poundages go down very low. It also has modules that allow you to adjust the draw length as the youngster grows, a very important element for a bow to have when you’re starting children at 11-12 years old. They’ll hit growth spurts at different times and may grow a foot in a year, so you may have to change their draw lengths every 2 months when they’re in one of those growth spurts. Therefore, being able to adjust the bow as the child grows is important for several reasons. By adjusting the bow, you don’t have to buy a new bow, and the child doesn’t have to learn to shoot a different bow, since you can just adjust the one with which he or she is already comfortable.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


PSE’S Michael Braden Loves His PSE Bows


PSE Archery Compound Bow

PSE’S Michael Braden

Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, started shooting with PSE in the early 1990s, turned pro, shooting a PSE bow, in 1996, and won the ASA Rookie of the Year. Then in 2009, he came back to be a part of the PSE Pro Staff and has been shooting for PSE ever since, besides coaching shooters.

Michael, what is it that you like about PSE bows?
Braden: PSE always has had really good bows in every area of competitive archery and bow hunting. This quality of PSE bows is important to me, because I shoot both 3D archery and spots, and I also bow hunt. So, my participation in archery covers just about the entire spectrum of the sport. I try to shoot just about every kind of archery that I can shoot.

PSE Archery

PSE Dominator Compound Bow

Okay, let’s look at your bows of choice, and why you choose them.
Braden: For shooting indoors, I shoot the Dominator Pro with the Mini Evo Cams. I’ve really grown to like the ME Cams, because I like a really hard wall. With this cam, you have the ability to create that wall. And, I’ve always been a fan of two cams. The ME, because it’s a hybrid, is little more like the two cams, so I’ve really grown to like that cam. This bow is the one I’ve primarily been shooting spots with, but I’ve also been shooting the Dominator 3D. This bow is somewhat shorter axle to axle and somewhat faster than the Dominator Pro, and it allows me to test different arrow weights, sizes and poundage. I’ve really grown to like the Dominator 3D with its stiff riser and bridge support, so that I don’t have a lot of lateral torque on the bow. Their shorter axle-to-axle and shorter brace heights are elements that generate some really good speeds to help me be more competitive in the 3D arena. For me, the PSE Dominator 3D bow will be set up for IBO, which allows 5 grains of arrow weight for every pound you pull. The IBO rules also take into consideration draw length. The more draw length you have, the faster the bow will shoot. The Dominator 3D, with a 29 1/2 inch draw, delivers 314 feet per second for me, IBO. When we shoot ASA, there’s a speed limit of 280 feet per second, so I may shoot a bigger, heavier arrow when I’m competing in IBO. I choose to change arrow weights rather than change bows, to shoot two different tournament circuits.

Which hunting bow are you shooting, and why?
Braden: That’s a tough question. I’ve got several hunting bows that I really like, and I’m not sure which one I like the best. I have the PSE EVO, and I’m also shooting a custom bow, which is a Supra with short limbs and the EVO cams. It’s similar to the PSE Freak, because it has a Supra handle with the big EVO cams. So, I’m basically shooting the PSE Freak with short limbs, and I really like that bow. This is one very important reason I shoot PSE that everyone may not know. PSE has a custom shop, so you have the ability to take component parts from different bows and find that magical configuration that you like. The reason I like the PSE Freak with short limbs is because I come from a target background, and I like a more stable, more forgiving bow for my hunting. This bow is a little bit longer axle-to-axle than most of the hunting bows on the market today.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


PSE’s Michael Braden Tells Why Archery Coaching is Important


Editor’s Note: Michael Braden of Houston, Texas, has won both ASA 3-D tournaments and IBO tournaments. He’s won seven national championship titles and four Male Shooter-of-the-Year titles. In 2004, he won the first and the second legs of the IBO Triple Crown, and he claimed the title of IBO National Triple Crown Champion and IBO National Triple Crown Team Champion in the same year. He’s won the NFFA Male Shooter of the Year, the ASA Rookie of the Year and many state and local tournaments. He bought his first bow at a pawn shop in 1989, shot his first archery tournament in 1991 and became a professional staffer with PSE in 1996. As well as being a tournament archery shooter, Braden’s an archery coach.

PSE’s Michael Braden on How to Overcome Target Panic

Question: Michael, how long have you been a coach?

I started coaching in the mid-1990s. I was working at an archery shop and helping people learn how to shoot their bows. I’ve increased the amount of coaching I’ve done over the years.

Question: We usually think of an archery coach as being a coach for tournament archers. But does a bowhunter also need an archery coach? How can you help bowhunters?

Every one in a shooting sport should have a coach. A coach keeps a person pointed in the right direction and helps him or her stay grounded in the fundamentals of shooting. A coach also teaches the proper techniques for many aspects of shooting to help prevent symptoms of target panic. Target panic is a difficult thing for some people to understand. The word bowhunters use to describe this is buck fever. Many people will see an archer shoot, and when the archer isn’t shooting as well as they think he should, they’ll say that the archer has target panic. As a hunter, you set yourself up to have target panic, because you believe you have to control the release at the very moment the animal stops or walks into a shooting lane. Too, because bowhunters are in the woods all day, sitting-still in tree stands for hours, they may be cold. But more importantly, the number-one problem bowhunters have is they believe they have to control their releases. That belief sets-up bowhunters for making a bad shot or missing the animals they’re hunting.

Question: Let’s use a bowhunter in a tree stand as an example. He has a 250- to a 300-pound 12-point buck in front of him that will score 150 or more on Boone & Crockett. This buck is the biggest one this hunter ever has seen. Now he has to stand, draw and make the shot. How does a bowhunter overcome this problem?

That situation is exactly why a bowhunter needs a coach. The coach will teach you proper fundamentals and shot sequence and execution. Then when that animal presents that shot, you go through a shot process, rather than thinking about how many inches of bone are on that deer’s head.

Question: What’s the shot process?

The only reasons the hunter needs to look at the animal is to determine if it’s a shooter buck, how far away the animal is, and where the spot is on the animal that he’ll stare at to execute the shot. That’s the shooting sequence. You go through that same shot sequence just like you will in practice or if you’re shooting a 3-D tournament. You decide if you’ll take the shot, what distance you are from the target and where on the target to place the arrow. Whether the target is paper or a deer, the process is the same. The second step is the execution of the shot. I come to full draw, take a deep breath, hold my breath, feel my anchor, wrap my finger around the trigger and let my finger touch the trigger. Then I get lost because I’m so intently focused on the spot I want to hit that I’m not conscious of the bow’s firing. Actually pulling the trigger on the mechanical release is a subconscious process that the hunter shouldn’t think about.

PSE’s Michael Braden Explains Shooting Form and Style in the Field

Question: Michael, most bowhunters will be shooting from tree stands or ground blinds. Since the shooter won’t be standing at the line like he will be at an archery tournament, how can an archery coach teach form and shooting style? More than likely, the shooter won’t be able to place his feet correctly like he will if he’s standing at the line shooting an archery tournament. Too, he probably won’t have the proper posture like he will in an archery tournament. How do you coach a hunter to have proper form when he’s sitting in a chair in a ground blind or possibly in a tree stand and has to bend-over to shoot under a limb?

First, I’ll coach the shooter to maintain the best form he or she possibly can, whether he’s in a tree or sitting in a chair in a ground blind. I also coach my shooters to practice sitting in a chair and shooting from a ground blind. Sitting in chair not only changes your form, but it also changes your stability. When I coach bowhunters, I have them practice shooting from their chairs and tree stands. I try to simulate all the different ways a hunter may have to contort his body to get-off a shot. I coach my students to shoot as far as they can to the left and the right in practice, because I know a bowhunter doesn’t know exactly where a deer will appear. The bowhunter needs to find out how he can move his body to get-off an effective shot. He also needs to practice from a tree and shooting uphill and downhill from a ground blind. One of the tactics I recommend to my students is to practice every-possible shot they think they may be called upon to make well before deer season. Don’t just stand in the backyard, and shoot the same target at the same distance on level ground every day.

Question: The form a bowhunter uses is often completely opposite of the form a tournament archer uses. If you’re trying to get a hunter ready for bow season, and you put him in a tree stand and turn him sharp to the left and the right or have him half standing to simulate shooting under a limb, how do you correct his form to enable him to shoot properly from a sitting position?

The bowhunter’s form isn’t completely different from the tournament-archer’s form. I agree that rarely does a tournament archer have to shoot from a seated position in competition. However, it’s very likely that the bowhunter will have to shoot from a seated position. In coaching a bowhunter, I’ll take him to the extreme limits of his ability to execute an effective shot. I want that hunter to know what angle or body position is too extreme for him to shoot effectively. Once we know that, then we can determine where a deer or any other animal has to be for the hunter to take or not take the shot. A bowhunter sitting in a tree needs to know when a deer’s at such an extreme angle that he’ll have to contort his body into an extreme position to make an effective shot. In bowhunting, understanding when not to shoot is just as important as knowing when to shoot.

Knowing the extreme angles from which you can shoot plays an important role when considering stand placement. When I’m coaching, I have the bowhunter sit in a chair like he plans to hunt. In other words, if you’re sitting in a ground blind or a tree stand, where will the target be? Most bowhunters sit in their chairs facing the targets. But that’s really the worst position. You can’t shoot effectively straight-out in front of you. If you’re right handed, you’ll want the chair turned slightly to your left. I teach bowhunters that they need to set-up their tree stands, so that they’re sitting in the best-possible positions to get maximum form when animals come-in to them. So, many times we can solve shooting-form problems by how we set-up our tree stands, according to where the deer will come from, and where we want to take the shot.

Question: If you’re hunting a trail and looking straight-down the trail, where do you want to set-up your tree stand?

I’ll set-up my tree stand, so that the deer will come to the left-hand side of the tree stand, because I’m a right-handed archer. I want that deer to be 90-degrees from me, when I’m in my tree stand. I should be able to put-out my left arm straight-out to my side, and that’s the direction from which the deer should come. Then when the deer approaches, I can draw the bow and shoot to my left, while I’m seated. One of the biggest problems bowhunters have with form isn’t the proper alignment of their bodies before their shots, but rather putting their tree stands in the wrong places. Then they’ll have to use poor form if an animal comes-in to them. Many times the bowhunter wants to set-up his stand to see the animal coming-in comfortably, rather than setting-up his stand to take the shot comfortably.

Michael Braden Coach2

PSE’s Michael Braden Tells Us How to Make the Half-Standing Shot from a Tree Stand

Question: Michael, if a deer comes-in from a direction you’re not expecting, and you have to shoot under a limb to get off the shot, you’ll be in a half-squat position. How do you make this shot?

I’d recommend you not take the shot. This is where training comes into play. If you’ve never made a shot like this before, more than likely you won’t make this shot if you decide to take it. However, if you’ve practiced the half-squat shooting position and developed the form you need to accurately make this shot, then this will be a “take-it” shot. When an animal stands in front of us and presents this type of test to the shooter, we need to reflect on how our training has prepared us for this style of shot. That’s why I say if you’ve never practiced this type of shot, more than likely you won’t make it effectively. However, if you’ve practiced this type of shot and can remember how you’ve aligned your body to shoot accurately, this very well may be a “take-it” shot.

This is the reason I say that training for a bowhunter has to include every type of shot he possibly may be called-on to make. Having a coach watch you as you practice those different shots can help you make them more effectively. I want to practice and have my students practice every extreme shot they may be called-on to make in the field. Then, when an animal presents itself for a shot, the student knows immediately from practice whether he can make that shot. There are times when I’m hunting that I won’t take the shot, regardless of how big the animal is, if I know I can’t execute a perfect shot.

PSE’s Michael Braden Explains How to Shoot from a Ground Blind

Question: Michael, a number of hunters have started hunting from ground blinds, and most of the time when you’re hunting out of a ground blind, you’ll have to take a seated shot. In most blinds, you only have a certain amount of distance you can move up and down, because the blinds have horizontal slits instead of vertical slits. How do you coach a hunter to shoot under those conditions?

You need to practice in the environment in which you plan to hunt. If you’ll be shooting from a ground blind, then practice shooting from a ground blind. I know of quite a few archery shops that will let bowhunters set-up ground blinds at their ranges to simulate hunting conditions. My wife Georgina lifts her bow just a little as she draws. When she gets in a ground blind, she gets a little claustrophobic. She can’t lift her bow quite as high as she normally does when she draws it. She struggles the first time she tries to draw-back her bow in a ground blind at the beginning of hunting season. When she has that claustrophobic feeling of not being able to raise her bow high-enough to draw it, she has to change the position of her drawing motion until she practices in a ground blind a few times, and it becomes more natural to her. Before hunting season, she needs to practice drawing and shooting, if we plan to hunt from a ground blind. That may change her technique from the way she shoots in practice or in a tournament.

Question: Most archers who hunt from a blind want to get as close as they can to the opening they’ll shoot through when the animal comes-in to make sure the arrow gets out of the blind when they release. Is that a good idea?

Definitely not. I recommend will and coach the hunter to stay as far back in the blind as possible. The further you are to the back of the blind, the less movement an animal will see. Plus, you have more room to draw and move, and you’re less likely to have light reflect-off any of your equipment.

Question: What’s the biggest problem most hunters have when shooting out of a ground blind?

They don’t really understand the difference between line of vision and the path of the arrow. The bowhunter’s line of vision in a ground blind is above the path that the arrow will fly. So, there are times when a bowhunter shooting downhill will come to full draw and see the animal in his or her sight picture and nothing obstructing his line of vision. But the line that the arrow will take is below what the bowhunter is seeing. I’ve seen many archers shoot the bottoms of the windows they’re shooting through, because they don’t recognize the difference between their line of vision and the path the arrow will take when it’s released.

Michael Braden Coach3

PSE’s Michael Braden Explains How to Choose Bow Weight

Question: Michael, don’t most bowhunters try to over-bow themselves?

For many years, we’ve believed that the more bow weight we can pull, the better we’ll shoot, and the truer the arrow will fly. We know that the more poundage we pull relates to the speed of the arrow, the kinetic energy the arrow can deliver and the penetration of the arrow. So, the more poundage we can pull, the better-off we’ll be in a hunting situation. However, drawing a bow is easier when you’re standing than when you’re sitting. Also, when you’re practice shooting in the backyard and warming-up, pulling a heavy bow isn’t as difficult. However, when you’re hunting, you’re usually cold from a temperature standpoint, but you’re also cold because you’ve been sitting in one position for hours and haven’t drawn your bow. Therefore, your being able to draw your bow comfortably without contorting your body and being able to point your bow straight at your target and pull the bow straight back, without having to lift it, in a comfortable, controlled manner are important to your success. That’s far-more important than being able to pull heavier poundage. You may have to give-up all the advantages of shooting a heavy-weight bow, because you can’t pull it as easily as you need to make an accurate shot, if you’ve been sitting a long time, and you’re cold.

My wife Georgina has a short draw length and only pulls 48 to 49 pounds. But she can take any animal in North America shooting that weight, because she shoots accurately. With the compound bows and arrows we have today, we don’t have to shoot extremely-heavy weights to get great accuracy and performance out of our bows, like we had to in the past. The bottom line is that you should be able to draw-back your bow easily and comfortably when you’re cold, and when you’re wearing heavy, bulky clothes. Whatever weight you can draw under those conditions is the bow weight you need to use when hunting. If you train with a 65-pound bow and turn it down to 62 or 63 pounds, you’ll be surprised at how much easier the bow is to draw and shoot in hunting conditions. If you train with 65 pounds and shoot 60 to 62 pounds, more than likely you can shoot that bow comfortably under most hunting conditions. If you want to practice at 65 pounds and then turn the bow down to 60 or 62 pounds before you go hunting, you should be able to shoot that bow comfortably.

Question: How do you compensate for taking a shot going uphill or downhill?

As you shoot uphill and downhill, cut yardage (shoot the target for a lesser distance than your rangefinder tells you the animal is), because there’s not as much gravitational pull on the arrow as there is when you’re shooting on flat ground. Most people realize that when you’re shooting downhill, you need to reduce the yardage, but the same is true when you’re shooting uphill. There are some great computer programs that will help you with these two problems. Also, today there are some good rangefinders that actually compensate for uphill and downhill shooting. Those rangefinders will tell you the distance to the target, the angle uphill or downhill and the corrected range. So, when coaching a bowhunter, I have them train shooting uphill and downhill. If I ask the student how much he thinks the angle is, either uphill or downhill, and then check that angle with my inclinometer or rangefinder, I can tell them the exact angle.

Get a rangefinder that compensates for the angle of the hill, because it takes all the guesswork out of how much yardage you need to take-off, if an animal is uphill or downhill. So, if you’re hunting in hilly country, I strongly recommend you get one of the new rangefinders that compensates for uphill and downhill shots. I always suggest that every hunter use the best technology and equipment he or she can find to help him shoot accurately.

Question: What’s the biggest problem for bowhunters?

They don’t set-up properly. Also, perhaps their bows don’t fit them, and they don’t receive instructions from a coach to get them pointed in the right direction and to help them learn to shoot a bow accurately before they try to shoot animals. Also, they may not have practiced enough to know when to take their shots. As hunters, we owe it to the animals we hunt not to take any shots if we’re uncertain about whether we can make accurate shots. I advise any bowhunter to get with an archery pro or coach – well before deer season and have the coach check his form and equipment and advise him on how to shoot more accurately.

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