What Do I Need To Start Bowhunting?
Renting equipment from your local range will allow you to test a variety of bow types, bow sights and settings to find the particular set up that works best for you. Your local archery range will likely offer the services of an expert who is well versed on the features of each type of bow as well as the different equipment options that are available, and this expert will be able to help you decide what is best for you. When you do purchase your own equipment and start bowhunting you will know you have the best equipment for you because you have already tried many of the available options at the range. Once you have selected the archery equipment that best suits your own shooting style and preferences, you will need to spend time learning the different skills you will need to be proficient when you start bowhunting in the field. You will need to learn the fundamentals of archery that can only be learned at the range with hours of practice. These fundamentals can be taught to you by a personal shooting coach or by a friend who is already experienced, but they can also be self taught once you know what they are. Learning to shoot at your local archery range has an advantage, and will give you the opportunity to watch proficient shooters as they apply each fundamental while practicing their own skills. Learning proper stance and placement of your hands, arms and fingers should be your first goal; this can be learned by watching the best shooters at your range.
Arrow placement on the bow and string, called nocking, is one fundamental that may be difficult to learn while watching others shoot, but the basics of arrow placement will generally be learned as you set up your bow prior to shooting, as it will be specific to the type of bow and bow sight equipment you are using. As you watch the more experienced shooters, note the techniques that are used in drawing back the bowstring, anchoring, and holding at a full draw while aiming the arrow. The next two fundamentals are release and follow through. Your release should be smooth and relaxed: as you hold your aim, focus on breathing, and as you complete your exhale, slowly relax your draw hand to release the string, then maintain follow through by holding your aim until the arrow reaches your target. Learn and practice these fundamentals, before you start bowhunting.
When you have learned the fundamentals of archery, you will need to practice them in the field before you start bowhunting. Many shooting ranges do have what is known as a "3D" range. A 3D range is set up to offer a number of life-sized, three dimensional targets. The targets are intended to represent the different types of game animals that you would encounter when you start bowhunting, and the targets are placed at different unmarked ranges. While 3D shooting will help you learn skills such as range (distance) estimation and point of aim, an aspiring bowhunter will need to become proficient with his or her shooting skills in the field. Field archery skills can be practiced while "stump shooting". Stump shooting involves walking through actual field terrain or a forest, and selecting a number of targets or "stumps" that vary in size, shape and distance. Stump shooting teaches the important skill of estimating unknown distance, which you will need to start bowhunting.
Once you become more proficient with your bow, having learned the fundamentals of archery, and having learned to estimate the distance between yourself and your target, you will want to prepare yourself for the actual use of your skills to take game in the field. Bowhunting requires more than great archery skills. It also requires great field skills. Depending on whether you want to try stalking game on the ground or shooting from a blind or tree stand, there are some skills you will need that are crucial to success. You will need to learn the skill and art of camouflage, so that you can visually blend in with your environment. While deer and other game animals do not necessarily see differences in color, they can easily see changes in patterns. Game animals often have acuity for seeing movement, and have a very keen sense of smell. So you must learn to camouflage both your scent and your movement.
Camouflaging your scent can be passive, by using charcoal impregnated clothing, or it can be active, by maintaining a downwind location relative to game at all times. Camouflaging your movement can also be both passive and active, passive being accomplished by wearing silent clothing and gear and active by learning to stay very still or to move very slowly and silently. One of the most important skills you will need to start bowhunting is the skill of tracking. Whether you are tracking game to locate it and to position yourself for a shot, or tracking game that you have already shot and wounded, it will take time and practice in the field to learn. Finally, you must learn to field dress your game. Field dressing your game properly will allow you to preserve the freshness of the meat and to efficiently bring it out of the field. Once you have all of these skills mastered, you will be ready for the many challenges and rewards, and you will have what you need to start bowhunting.
Written By : Jeff VanMeter, United States
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )