Skip to main content Skip to main content

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

Popular Videos

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg arrives at Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky to kick off the beginning of his hunting season.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best New Climbing Aider Options

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more height per stick, but at the addition of very little weight to the stick setup. An aider can provide one or two more steps per each stick section, thereby greatly increasing height potential when needed and allowing you to carry fewer total sticks to gain a specific height.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Bowhunter stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now