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.

Recommended for You

ATA Show

New Recurve Bows for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 11, 2019

In the market for a new traditional bow? Here are our top picks from the 2019 ATA Show!

ATA Show

Best New Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

From fixed to hybrid to mechanical, we've rounded up the best new broadheads from the 2019 ATA...

How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daytime Bighead Carp Bowfishing

Curt Wells is with members of the Muzzy Bowfishing team as they set their sights on bighead carp during the day in Kentucky.

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek has a chance to fill his buck tag on a mixed bag hunt in Texas.

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.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Game

Massive Alaskan Brown Bear is the New World Record

Lynn Burkhead - October 18, 2018

Archer Chris Cammack has arrowed the new world record for brown bears with his Alaskan giant.

How-To

Tree Saddle Demo Climb With Aider Use

Mike Carney - June 07, 2019

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

Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

Small Fixes for Your Traditional Archery Setup

Fred Eichler - September 26, 2018

Try these small tweaks to improve your recurve or longbow shooting performance!

How-To

How To Increase Your Bowhunting Success Rate

Joe Bell

If you want to improve your success rate and notch more tags, avoid these common errors.

How-To

Small Prescribed Burns for Your Treestand Locations

C.J. Winand

A micro project could enhance the action.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×