Targets are fun to shoot, but I haven’t seen one grow horns or add meat to the freezer. Being prepared for the shot of a lifetime takes a different type of practice.
The basic idea is to do everything possible to simulate real hunting situations. My friends like to call me “Captain Obvious” when I say such things but most people just don’t do it.
Below are a few tips for more productive hunting practice. Most of these are from my bowhunting arsenal but they also apply to other weapons.
Wear hunting clothes and your harness. I’ve heard too many tales of bucks being lost to strings caught on bulky sleeves or the harness getting in the way of an awkward shot.
Setup practice stands and blinds similar to your real hunting placements. If you hunt in the woods you should practice shooting around trees. Likewise, if you’re in a wheat field ground blind, you need to avoid tall grass.
Bring a friend and take turns shooting. Your friend can move targets to random distances and situations while your eyes are closed. Once you get the all-clear, quickly assess and shoot. You need to be on autopilot in the field and repetition is the key.
Practice with hunting arrows and broadheads (and hunting loads for gun practice). Shooting my hunting setup casts away all doubt and adds confidence in the field.
Try to practice on days with varying weather conditions. Wind and rain don’t make practice more fun but it’s all about being prepared for what mother nature throws your way.
Add pressure to your practice. I like to make non-monetary wagers with my friends. For example, I REALLY don’t want to draft a hand written note confessing how superior Dikran’s hunting skills are! The fear of losing this bet turns up the heat, gets my adrenaline flowing, and makes me more prepared.
Keep practice sessions short. Limited practice opportunities can make us squeeze in too many shots. I’m a firm believer that 10 shots while you’re fresh is better than 100 when you’re tired.
(Exception to the previous tip): Finish every bow session by holding at full draw for an extended period of time. Let your muscles fatigue and then block out the pain to deliver an accurate shot. This is a skill you will need in the field sooner or later and I rarely see it practiced. Again, only do this once at the end of your practice. Repetitive shots when you are fatigued will lead to bad habits.
Please let me know if you have other practice tips for simulating real hunting conditions.
Live for the chase!
-Jeff French (Link)
Here is my personal best group as of yesterday. Not not the best but Im proud of it..I'm trying to cure a serious case of "Target Panic" that Ive had since last year. Im working on it!