So, bow season is over and you can start thinking about next year. I’m sure you, like many, have been out scouring the woods looking for sheds, newly worn trails that you never knew existed as you avoided venturing too far into that big buck’s bedroom, or picking out new stand locations with all the new information you are gathering. What about your shot, have you been looking for that too? Have you even thought about? If you’re like a good number of bow hunters, you’ll pick up your bow a month or so before the season and “make sure it’s still sighted in.” I see way too many people that ethically shouldn’t be bow hunting, yet take to the field every year in pursuit of that big buck anyway. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes we hear the story of “I don’t know what happened, I missed” If you’re reading this and you do practice all summer, attend 3ds, and really prepare for that moment of truth, I thank you. But, this still applies to you too.
Even if you’re a seasoned veteran in the woods, you would still benefit from some time dissecting your shot process, understanding it, and making it something you don’t have to think about. Something I’ve learned over the years of competing and hunting is that your conscious mind can only think about one thing at a time. If you’re thinking about what your sight picture looks like and holding your pin on what you want to hit, you can’t at the same time be thinking about what your release hand is doing. As soon as you shift focus from one to the other, what you were thinking about suffers. What your mind can do it run a “program” subconsciously without taking focus off of what you are consciously thinking about. If you can teach your body to run your shot “program,” you can focus on aiming. One of the easiest ways to write your subconscious program for your shot, is blank bailing.
I’m sure a lot of your have heard that term before(blank or blind bailing), but has anyone broken down what it actually means to blank bail? For me, blank bailing is a way to reinforce my shot process and strengthen it. Over the years blank bailing has created a shot program for my body to follow so I don’t have to think about it. Weather I’m on the tournament line in Vegas shooting for thousands of dollars with my nerves on edge, or that big buck walks out in front of me and my heart is pounding, once I start my shot process my body can run on auto pilot. All I have to do is worry about aiming.
How do we set up for blank bailing? My setup is a hanging target in my basement where I can put myself about 3-4 feet away with the target at shoulder level. The purpose for this is that I don’t have to worry about missing, all I have to worry about is my shot process(remember the conscious mind can only think about one thing at a time). With the target being at shoulder level, you are putting yourself in a good position to get you posture correct. Now, all you have to do is build a shot process and execute it.
Your shot process can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. I would suggest that no matter what end of the spectrum you are on, write it down. The key to being accurate with a bow and arrow is to be as boringly exact and repetitive as possible. Here is my shot process. It begins after I clip the release onto my d-loop. 1) position my hand on my release 2)position my hand in the grip of the bow 3)point my bow just above what I want to shoot 4) draw 5)anchor with my first two knuckles on the edge of my jaw bone 6)touch my nose to the string to line up my peep and sight housing 7)bring the sight down to what I want to shoot 8)slowly relax my hand while building tension with my back until the shot breaks. I know, that seems like a lot of steps to shoot an arrow. But, if you consciously think about every step as you are doing it, after a while the whole process will become a subconscious “program” that will run on its own.
No matter what skill level you are current at with shooting a bow, I can promise you that if you take a couple weeks and really focus on building a shot process that you can follow and repeat over and over and over again, you will be more proficient. Now, is a great time to do this as it is still cold outside and 3d/outdoor archery season has yet to kick off. If you are shooting in winter indoor leagues, take some time every week and really work on and refine a shot process to make yourself better. It won’t take much to make you a better archer and give you a better chance of getting that buck of a lifetime when the time comes. It can be as little as 20 arrows per day 3-5 days per week. As long as you are focusing on the process!
Over the next few months I will be writing short articles on different topics related to hunting with a bow and arrow, and how to make yourself a better archer. If you have anything you want to ask, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will work on answering your questions. Have fun and be safe