A lot of bowhunters face the difficult task of staying in good shape and form during the off season. Those living in the more southern parts of the country can obviously cope with winter a little better but even in decent weather perhaps there are other obstacles keeping you from practicing. For example, not having anywhere safe to shoot if you live in town or maybe time constraints due to work and family obligations. Despite the many reasons, if a hunter can figure out how to keep their bow drawing muscles in good condition and keep a good form it will definitely make them a much better bowhunter all around.
As we learned about in Practice Does Not Make Perfect, most of us know how important it is to practice shooting our bow many months before the season, if not year around. There is no reason to finally have a shot at a monster buck only to blow it because you were out of practice. Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity and there probably isn’t anyone reading this that wouldn’t like a little luck in shooting the buck of a lifetime. Whether it’s cold weather, a particular situation, or time constraints there are some basic tips that may help you during the off season.
This is an obvious solution if the outdoor conditions where you live suck. Let’s face it, nobody wants to shoot a bow when outdoor conditions are less than tolerable. There are many indoor ranges that will allow you to shoot your bow indoors. It may cost a slight fee, which is understandable but being able to shoot inside at room temperature in a t shirt can be priceless if it’s nasty outside. Many ranges will have set hours for public shooting and may even hold indoor leagues on a weekly basis. Some hunters are not into shooting indoors because they feel it isn’t the same as being outside, you don’t have to judge yardage, and it isn’t a hunting type of scenario. But most serious bowhunters will tell you that if you can get good at shooting a 300 round 5 spot target, it will definitely improve your overall game. It’s all about proper form, concentration, squeezing the trigger, and just getting in some string time. It all starts at 20 yards.
Some guys will set up their own range in a basement, garage, or pole barn. Even the inside of a cold storage building or old barn would shelter you from the elements. If you have the room, proper targets, and some sort of back stop it can be done. Just remember to be safe and use common sense. You probably don’t want to shoot from the living room clear into the kitchen just to get some practice. Think about the possibility of danger and really think it through before you do anything drastic. Safety always comes first.
Get Regular Exercise
This is a good solution if shooting indoors is not an option but could also be used in addition to some indoor shooting. Just keeping your muscles toned and in good shape will certainly help. Exercises that mimic pulling back a bow are the best. If you have access to a cable machine these types of exercises are easily performed. If you aren’t the gym type then a cheap set of exercise bands will also do the trick. Even some good old fashioned push ups and pull-ups every other day would be very beneficial the next time you were able to shoot your bow. Search the Internet for different types of exercises that target your arms, shoulders, and upper back as they are the working muscles involved in drawing and shooting a bow.
Bowfit Archery Fit Combo
This is along the lines of exercising but I felt it needed it’s own little plug. I mentioned using exercise bands to help you stay in shape. These can be found at most any sports or athletic store. There is also a product called the Bowfit that is actually made to help bowhunters stay in shape, get stronger, or to warm up your muscles before hunting. The Bowfit Archery Fit Combo can be picked up at your local Cabelas store or online. It comes with an Archery Fit DVD that will show you all the different exercises and how to perform them properly. There are a lot of good customer reviews on the product so I thought it was definitely worth mentioning.
If shooting indoors or exercising are not feasible options for you, then your only other choice is to pick up your bow and start shooting as soon as you can. Once the weather breaks get out there and practice. Hit some outdoor 3D shoots and within a month or so you’ll be right back on track. The important thing to remember is that you are at least giving it an honest effort. As hunters, we want to be the best sportsmen we can possibly be when trying to harvest any type of big game. It is the ethical and responsible thing to do.
Thanks for reading and happy bowhunting!