Editor’s Note: Thirty seven year old Mike Hopkins of Junction City, Kansas, has been shooting a PSE bow since 2008. Hopkins is a classic example of how to become a better bowhunter. Mike decided to shoot 3D archery just before he took his first buck with a bow. As you’ll see, Mike consistently has been able to take more animals and a wider variety of animals, since he’s incorporated 3D archery into his bowhunting program.
PSE: What bow were you shooting in 2011?
Hopkins: I was shooting a PSE Supra HP. My PSE rep had told me how great the Supra was, and he encouraged me to try one. He let me take his bow home for a few days to practice with, so I’d have a better understanding and a better feel for the bow. He allowed me to set his bow up with my equipment, and I was really impressed with that bow. After shooting the bow, I decided that the Supra was one of the best bows a person could shoot in tournament archery, and in five out of seven national tournaments, I was on the podium to receive an award and a check. I won the Augusta, Georgia, shoot for my division, and I finished second in the Shooter of the Year competition in the Known 45 division. I gave the rep back his bow, but he helped me get one of my own.
PSE: What bow were you hunting with in 2011?
Hopkins: Last hunting season, I decided to try the Dream Season EVO. There had been a redesigning of the risers on this bow, and the improved design of the riser and the improved design of the limb pockets in this new bow made it a step up bow in the Dream Season line.
PSE: Why is it so important to you to shoot the newest PSE bows on the market?
Hopkins: I don’t necessarily have to shoot the latest and the greatest bow that PSE comes out with every year. When I choose a bow for tournament archery or for bowhunting, my first concern is, “Am I comfortable shooting this bow?” Just because a new bow comes on the market doesn’t mean that new bow is suited for every archer in America. That’s why PSE brings out so many new bows each year, and even has a custom shop if you want a custom bow built. Because PSE knows that different people like various types of bow configurations, the company offers a wide variety of bows that can fit almost anyone and will be comfortable for almost anyone to shoot. But since I’m on the PSE Pro Staff, I feel I have a certain responsibility to at least try the new bows that are brought on the market, and if they fit me and my style of shooting, I step up.
As a tournament archer, I’ve got to make sure that if I step up to a newer bow, it actually helps me shoot better than the bow I’ve been using. If it doesn’t, I’ll stay with the bow I feel most consistent with, and the same is true when I choose a hunting bow. I’ve got to make sure if I’m shooting a new hunting bow that it fits me, I feel comfortable shooting it, and that I have confidence shooting it. So, I don’t just shoot the latest and greatest, because it’s the latest and greatest. The new bows have to help me improve in both tournament archery and bowhunting, and if they do that, then I have no problem laying my old bow down and picking up my new bow. I feel that if I don’t have confidence in the new bows that PSE brings to the marketplace, then I can’t tell other bowhunters why they should consider one of PSE’s new bows if they want to step up. I really believe that I need to be shooting the bows that I’m talking about and promoting. I’m not going to shoot a bow or promote a bow that I don’t have confidence in and haven’t tested to know how it performs and why it performs the way it does. That’s the reason I shot my PSE rep’s Supra before I committed to owning one. There was no point in me getting a Supra, until I had tested it and knew it would help me shoot more accurately. The same is true of the Dream Season EVO.
PSE: Where did you hunt last season?
Hopkins: Last year I moved to Augusta, Georgia, to go to military school. I didn’t move until October, but I went to Florida in September, and my boy and I got to do some hog hunting. We each took a hog in Florida with our PSE bows. My son’s hog weighed right at 100 pounds, and I shot three hogs, two that were 50 60 pounds and one that we didn’t find the last day we were hunting. The fella we were hunting with found it a day or two after our hunt, and he said it weighed 180 185 pounds. I was experimenting with a couple of different broadheads, while we were hunting in Florida. I used the G3, the Grim Reaper and the Spitfire. I felt, for my type of shooting, the Spitfire was best for me. I like the Spitfires because they’re very simple. By that I mean, those broadheads don’t have as many moving parts. They’re expandable, with a good cutting diameter, and when I’ve shot animals with the Spitfires, the blades haven’t broken nor the arrows. The blades deployed on impact, and one of the other broadheads’ blades didn’t deploy. The reason I mention the hog hunt is because I didn’t take a whitetail with my bow last year.
PSE: Mike, let’s recap for a minute. The only reason you started shooting 3D archery was because you’d gone 4 years without taking a buck deer, and you’d missed several. You were a hunter who was using the sport of 3D archery to become a better bowhunter. Now, you’re primarily a 3D archery shooter and go hunting when you can. How did this change take place?
Hopkins: I really like the competitive aspect of 3D archery. I can’t really say that I hunt any more or less than I used to, but I have drastically increased the amount of tournament archery I shoot, mainly because I have more opportunities all year long to shoot tournament archery. Bow season has a very limited time frame. The law stops me from bowhunting all year long, but no one can prevent me from shooting tournament archery all year long. So, I discovered that I had a lot more opportunity to shoot my bow by both bowhunting and shooting 3D archery than I had when I only bowhunted.
PSE: If you have to make a choice of whether to go to a 3D archery tournament or bowhunt, which do you pick?
Hopkins: Fortunately, I haven’t had to make that choice yet. If I had to make that decision, the animal I had the opportunity to hunt, and where I had the opportunity to hunt would be a major factor in which way I would go. To me, part of the excitement of bowhunting is visiting different parts of the country, seeing various types of terrain and hunting under different bowhunting conditions. I’ve hunted in the swamps of Louisiana, the deserts of Texas and the hills of Tennessee and many other areas. The opportunity to go to a new place, a new state and a different type of terrain will make choosing to go to a tournament really tough.
PSE: What types of tournaments are you shooting right now?
Hopkins: I’ve just moved out to Kansas, and I’m primarily shooting state tournaments right now. I haven’t shot any national tournaments since I’ve moved here, and I’m primarily shooting the Known 50 class. I’ll only be here for a year or two, so I may not be able to shoot the national circuit, but I’m not giving up tournament archery. When I move again, if I can get back to the southeast, I’ll be right back into shooting national tournaments.
PSE: What’s a major reason that you advise bowhunters to shoot tournament archery?
Hopkins: A bowhunter who’s been shooting tournament archery knows his limitations and his equipment’s limitations, because of how well he’s been able to shoot in tournaments. There’s no question of, “Can I make the shot, or should I not take the shot?” If you’re honest with yourself, you find out for sure what those limitations are through tournament archery. So, when a deer comes in and presents a shot, you already know whether or not you can make that shot.