The string tightly rolled into my first finger bend, my shooting glove quickly compressed against the string serving, and the buck moved into my shooting lane. With a slow, methodical, fluid motion, the arrow was on its way.

In the fraction of a second, it seems a million things need to flawlessly take place to connect and make a successful shot. It’s not something that just happens. Hours and hours of practicing my bow, focusing my shots, and mentally preparing for the opportunity created the success!

What I’ve learned in life and in bowhunting is that to be systematically successful, one must practice outlined procedures. There must be repeatability with positive results. Time after time, I’ve heard archery instructors teach repeatability of form, release, and sight acquisition. These procedures must be mastered and repeated to consistently be accurate.

Proper practice resulting in targeted results is what we’re looking for as archers ... packing tight groups into the X-ring is our goal! No matter if you’re a field archer or on the 3D course, accuracy and repeatability are no accident. It takes a system of procedures—target acquisition, ranging, drawing, proper form, sighting, and optimal release—to get the arrow where we need it to be placed. 

As bowhunters, this is even more true. Bowhunters experience environments with even more variables that we need to systematically be prepared for. This is sometime easier said than done because most of the variables we experience have a mind of their own. Targets typically don’t move, they don’t think, and they don’t create rapidly changing decisions for us! 

Bowhunters are familiar with their equipment. The hours and hours of shooting in the backyard and on the 3D courses have honed their shooting skills. As the season quickly approaches, bowhunters modify their practice to mimic everything they may encounter in the field with gear, clothing, and shooting positions.

When I was in the Coast Guard years ago, I was assigned to a search and rescue boat. We were prepared for anything that we could possibly face: fires, drownings, hypothermia victims, and sinking boats. We had the tools ready and available, not to mention the countless hours we had training to use them. Every scenario had its own procedure. We were taught that how we trained was how we would perform in the field and under extreme pressure!  Attention to details and flawless execution of the procedures were a must! Being successful and lives counted on it!

As a bowhunter, I’ve adopted a lot of the same philosophies on being prepared for a wide variety of situations and how to execute proper procedures to be successful.

Bowhunting from a treestand is somewhat controlled compared to a spot-n-stalk hunt, but procedures are a must. I plan and run through every scenario I can possibly think of that could and might happen. I pre-range as many markers as possible so I don’t need any extra movement or frantic ranging when the whopper walks into range. I even visualize my movements once a deer is spotted and approaching. I like to limit myself to three movements when a deer approaches: stand up, grab bow, and draw. But when the witching hour approaches, you’ll never find me sitting, so I’m down to two steps!

Predetermining these steps will help eliminate buck fever and unwanted mistakes at that moment of truth. The key is to have a plan and practice your procedures!


Heath Painter

Tribe Archery