Shooting Practice Tips For Backcounty Bowhunters

Shooting Practice Tips For Backcounty Bowhunters
If you hope to be successful when bowhunting in rugged country, you'll need a quality bowsight and you must practice shooting up and downhill, even at steep angles.

The key to my mountain shooting success can be summed up in one word — practice.

I know, not real cutting edge. But the bottom line is, if you're going to bowhunt the backcountry of the West effectively, it takes commitment. I shoot virtually every day except during the months of December and January. I'm always on the road attending shows then so I consider that time period my "off-season."

Shooting every day sounds overwhelming, but it really isn't when you consider that on many of those days I may shoot only a couple dozen arrows. That takes only about 15 minutes and for most of these quickie sessions I shoot at 20 yards. I'd venture to guess each one of us has an extra 15 minutes a day to dedicate to our craft.


Accurate shooting is all about consistency, which means aiming and using the same form to hit the spot at 20 yards as at 60 yards. I supplement my short practice sessions with longer outings, too. A couple times a week I'll go down to the local pro shop and shoot against my buddies or shoot in one of the indoor leagues. One evening a week I'll shoot at my friend's house where we stretch the shot distance to longer yardages. Long-range practice exposes errors in form and equipment, and I find it very beneficial. Most years, I will also shoot about 10 3-D shoots.


I hunt the rugged, up-and-down country of the West a lot, and I've found a bubble level on my sight is a must. Not a cheap bubble level thrown on for looks but a quality bubble. I use a Spot-Hogg sight that features a precision bubble but also has 3rd axis adjustment capability. If your 3rd axis is set correctly, at full draw, your bubble will indicate when your bow is perpendicular to the world no matter what angle you're shooting at. This is crucial when shooting uphill or downhill. If your bubble is lying to you, it's highly likely you'll miss, or worse.

Another thing my sight has that helps prevent canting is a vertical wire aligned with the pins. I've found I instinctively keep my bow more straight up and down with a wire than without.

The most important thing is to include uphill and downhill shots in your practice regimen. Use a rangefinder that features angle compensation and become familiar with how angles affect the yardage you must shoot for. Also, practice shooting from your knees, and from a sitting position while making sure your bottom limb clears the ground. Pay attention to the details because in the mountains, the little things always count big.


Finally, avoid cramming your weekly practice sessions into one or two days. If you shoot for an hour or two at a time, most of that practice will actually be reinforcing bad habits or improper shooting form due to muscle fatigue. That can be hard on your mental confidence as well.

You've heard the old saying, "Perfect practice makes perfect." Well, that couldn't be truer than it is for shooting a bow and arrow. Short, high-quality practice sessions, in which you're focused on pinpoint accuracy, will pay huge dividends in the mountains. Good luck.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

Guest hunter Christian Berg visits Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky and gets his deer-hunting season off to a great start with an amazing velvet buck.

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 2

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt in a truly target-rich environment.

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony Peterson sees plenty of action while hunting whitetails and hogs in Texas.

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 1

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 1

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt that promises plenty of action.

Trending Articles

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when choosing heavy vs. light arrows for bowhunting. How-To

How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light

Curt Wells

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when...

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely. Scouting Tools

Advancements in Rangefinder Technology Through the Years

Chuck Adams

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely.

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt! Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

Here's how to choose vanes that will yield the best accuracy, forgiveness, and trajectory. Arrows & Broadheads

What Are the Best Vanes For Hunting?

Joe Bell

Here's how to choose vanes that will yield the best accuracy, forgiveness, and trajectory.

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

Taking long-distance shots at big-game animals has become acceptable, but here's why it isn't the ethical choice. Conservation

Is it Ethical to Take Long-Distance Bowhunting Shots?

Curt Wells

Taking long-distance shots at big-game animals has become acceptable, but here's why it isn't...

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort. How-To

Tree Saddle Hunting — Demo Climb With Aider

Mike Carney - June 07, 2019

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort.

Mountain hunts are a different game, and you must be prepared. How-To

Conquering Mountains: How to Prepare for a High-Country Hunt

Tom Edgington

Mountain hunts are a different game, and you must be prepared.

Follow these tips for finding deer antlers, even in areas where the competition is stiff. How-To

5 Shed Hunting Strategies

Tony J. Peterson

Follow these tips for finding deer antlers, even in areas where the competition is stiff.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.