Adverse Conditions = Success
In teaching advanced archery, one of my lessons revolves around “adverse conditions” training. What I mean by adverse conditions is that when you’re shooting arrows in your backyard you are generally shooting at a large target over flat terrain, at a known yardage and in fair weather.
But the inexperienced bowhunter soon realizes that the mountains are very different than practicing at home.
In a real-life hunting scenario you often find yourself shooting from a kneeling position, up or down steep hills, through brush or limbs, at unknown distances, with a fly buzzing around your face and aiming into the sun.
It’s no wonder bowhunters have such low success rates!
In the real world, whether fighting the mountain or fighting the rat race of life, we are constantly battling adverse conditions. Therefore we must practice shooting through adversity in order to become better and stronger at whatever we’re doing.
Adverse Conditions Training
The secret to successful bowhunting is to practice in adverse conditions. This means placing as many mental and physical obstacles between you and the target. The following are some ways to practice for adverse conditions.
Have your shooting partner yell or poke you right before you shoot. Shoot at unknown distances. Shoot with a strong crosswind. Shoot through heavy cover or around obstacles. Do whatever you can do to make practice harder and it will pay off in the woods.
Through many years of real-life hunting experience, I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle is yourself. Even if you shoot 10,000 arrows in the preseason, you’re never really ready when that buck-of-a-lifetime steps out in front of you. When it happens you’ll likely come unglued!
My brother, Russell, relates a story form years ago when he was still new to bowhunting. A small, two-point buck stepped out fifteen years in front of him. Sure enough he panicked and sent his arrow plowing into the dirt at the buck’s feet!
How does one prepare for that kind of pressure? The following are the best ways I’ve found to practice for high-pressure shooting situations:
- Don’t shoot square targets. Instead, shoot realistic 3D targets. If you don’t have a 3D target you can always dangle small balloons from a string in front of your target. You might be surprised at how difficult it is to hit a balloon as it dances in the wind. Not only will this prepare you for realistic situations, but it’s a lot of fun.
- Compete! At least once or twice a year, sign up for a 3D tournament, even if you aren’t that good. Competitions–especially ones with lots of money on the line–always raise adrenaline levels. If you aren’t up for a formal competition, you can create competitions by practicing with a couple friends. Put a couple bucks on the line and watch the competition soar.
- Sprint to and from your target to get your heart rate up, shoot quickly, and repeat. I admit, this isn’t a fun way to practice, but it sure helps.
Remember, overcoming adversity is how we grow stronger in both life and bowhunting. Anticipate adversity–even welcome it–and you’ll be stronger for it.
What are you doing to make practice more challenging?