Pine Ridge Archery
ARCHERY IS ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS
Another thing that can help you is an Allen wrench that is built with the archer in mind. When I was a kid, I rarely adjusted the sight on my bow unless it was way off. The main reason I didn’t want to adjust my sight was because I had to stop what I was doing and dig up the right size wrench. If my sight was off a little bit, I kept shooting and compensating by raising or lowering my bow. Pine Ridge Archery makes an Allen wrench set that has every possible size wrench built in one easy-to-use set. It’s good to have in my pocket when I am sighting in a bow and when I am bowhunting.
The vibration from a bow sometimes causes the sight, the stabilizer and even my arrow rest to loosen up slightly, causing extra noise. Every few weeks during bow season, I like to tighten everything on my bow to make sure nothing is loose.
I have elk hunted across America and on more than one occasion, a friend or I had a loose bow sight because our bow got bumped climbing over a deadfall or while riding on an ATV. Checking your sight while hunting in the backcountry is extremely important. The last thing I want to happen while elk hunting is to discover after a missed shot that my sight has been bumped. When I am elk hunting, I regularly stump shoot and if my sight is off, I dial it back in and tighten everything up with the Allen wrench. A little thing like an Allen wrench can make a big difference. It’s the little details that often make or break the shot of a lifetime.
BY TRACY BREEN
SHOOT WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED
Most bowhunters spend the spring and summer shooting into a target of some type to prepare for fall bow season. Many hunters spend the majority of their time letting arrows fly at 20 and 30 yards. Although this is a great way to practice for fall, there are a few other things you can do to hone your archery skills. The first thing archers should do is shoot with their eyes closed.
BLIND BALE SHOOTING
The above paragraph did not end in a typo. If you want to be the best you can be, first you must determine what bad habits you have. Most of us have some type of shooting form issue. We either punch the trigger, drop our bow arm when we shoot or we have a death grip on the bow when we shoot. Many archers, including myself, have a combination of all three. One way to eliminate the problems is by shooting at a target at close range with your eyes closed. This is called blind bale shooting. The goal of the exercise is to help you focus on your shooting form without worrying about the target or where the arrow is going. By shooting with your eyes closed, you can focus entirely on holding your bow properly and gently squeezing the trigger. Many pro archers will practice this drill for weeks without shooting with their eyes open. After practicing like this for a few weeks, you end up creating good shooting habits. I often do blind bale shooting for a few minutes before I do my normal practice routine during the summer to refresh my memory.
RECORD A VIDEO
Another thing you can do if you are worried about your shooting form is have someone record a video of you while you are shooting. A close up video when you come to full draw that shows your body and arm as you shoot the bow will tell you a lot about your form and any bad habits you might have. A simple smartphone video will tell you a lot about your habits, good and bad.
SHOOT THE LENGTH OF A FOOTBALL FIELD
After you have mastered blind bale shooting and fine tuned your shooting skills thanks to your video, start shooting at extreme ranges. I love shooting at 80-100 yards. Forget shooting at 20 yards. If you focus on 80 or 100 yards, 20 yard shots will be a piece of cake. When you can regularly hit a paper plate at 80 or 100 yards, you will know your form is spot on. Of course I would never shoot a deer at that great of distance, but I enjoy practicing at those ranges. The challenge of hitting the mark at that distance makes practice a blast.
BY TRACY BREEN
TUNE UP YOUR BOW ON A BUDGET
Deer season is right around the corner. Now is the time to get your bow fine-tuned and ready for fall. As the price of bows continues to rise, more bowhunters are giving their bows a facelift and a tuneup instead of spending lots of cash on a new bow. Below are a few tips to help you fine tune your current bow without breaking the bank.
Every bowhunter wants a fast rig. One way to get more speed without spending a lot of money is to put Pine Ridge Archery Nitro Buttons on your current bow. Nitro Buttons and Nitro Button XL’s can be installed on your string in a few minutes and they will increase the speed of your rig and eliminate string noise and vibration. To top it all off, they come in a variety of colors so your bow will look cool.
Speaking of strings, having a new string put on your bow every year or two is a must. Over time, strings and cables stretch and wear out. The last thing we want to happen is for a string to break when we are full draw on a big buck. Putting new strings and cables on a bow can keep it rocking and rolling for a year or more. A good string can add a little speed. America’s Best Bow Strings, Mathews and many others make great strings.
You will never see a pro archer on the line without a quality stabilizer on their bow. Every bowhunter should also have a quality stabilizer on their bow that helps eliminate vibration and stabilizes the bow while shooting. Pine Ridge Archery Nitro stabilizers are priced to sell, look cool and could help you shrink your arrow groups.
How about a new peep sight? Like strings, peep sights get old. If you need a new peep or haven’t used a peep before, a good peep sight can help you shrink your arrow groups at short and long distances. Like much of the gear I mentioned above, a good peep sight doesn’t break the bank. The Nitro peep is a great option.
Last but not least, check out the cable attaching your arrow rest to your bow. Over time, these things stretch and the timing on your bow may be off. Replacing the cable from time to time isn’t a bad idea. While you are at it, check out a new rest on the market called the Schaffer Performance Archery XV. This rest can handle arrow speeds exceeding 400 FPS. This rest is one of a kind.
It is amazing what a simple bow tuneup can do. With a few new accessories, an old bow can be just like new which means big bucks better sleep with one eye open this fall.
BY TRACY BREEN
7 THINGS ALL BOWHUNTERS SHOULD HAVE IF THEY ARE PLANNING A WESTERN HUNT
Every whitetail hunter I know dreams about going West and bowhunting elk. There is something about the mountains, the sound of a bugling bull and the adventure of spending time in the backcountry that tugs at the soul of bowhunters. I give hunting seminars across the country during the winter and talk to hundreds of hunters who say ‘maybe someday’ when I ask them if they have ever elk hunted. Maybe this fall can be your someday. Keep in mind elk hunting doesn’t have to break the bank. I have elk hunted many times for about a thousand dollars. Of course that doesn’t include gear. The cool thing is if you buy high quality gear, it is a one time purchase. Below is a list of must haves if you want to go on a do-it-yourself elk hunt.
A TOP NOTCH SHELTER
The only way to elk hunt on a shoestring budget is going on an unguided hunt. If you go on an unguided hunt, you will need a top notch tent. I use a tipi because it is lightweight, easy to pack, and it can be used in conjunction with a collapsable wood stove. The downside of a tipi is it doesn’t have a floor. I don’t see it as a downside but some hunters like to have a floor. For me, not having a floor is a great thing because I don’t have to remove my boots before climbing in for the night. If a tipi doesn’t sound like fun to you, find a lightweight 3 or 4-man tent. When full of gear, a 4-man tent is perfect for two bowhunters. Cabela’s offers a wide variety of backcountry style tents that are lightweight and durable.
A DURABLE BACKPACK
Another must have if you are planning a backcountry trip is a super tough backpack. I use an Outdoorsmans backpack. This pack has a lightweight frame that is super tough and durable. The pack has plenty of storage space for all my gear and food. It also has a meat shelf which makes packing out meat a piece of cake. When choosing a pack, remember that you get what you pay for. A high quality pack will likely last you a lifetime if you take care of it.
Broken-in high quality boots are a must have. Don’t buy a pair of boots on your way out west and think you will have a good trip. If your boots aren’t broken in before you leave home, you will get blisters. Do yourself a favor and buy blister socks. I always wear thin blister socks next to the skin and heavier socks over them. By wearing this sock combo with great boots, I rarely have problems with my feet. Blisters can quickly ruin a hunting trip so hike many miles in your boots long before you head west on a hunting trip.
A QUALITY GPS
Bring a GPS and a compass. Make sure you know how to read a compass and understand how to operate your GPS. I use a Garmin Oregon 650T GPS. I have had the same GPS for years and it has never failed me. I never leave home without a SPOT device. A SPOT is an emergency device that if I get in trouble, I can push a 911 button and the authorities will come find me. When I am elk hunting out west, I am often miles off the road. If something went wrong and I broke a leg or cut myself skinning an elk, the SPOT device could be the difference between life and death.
HIGH END GLASS
Top quality glass is also a necessity. Cody Nelson from Outdoorsmans in Phoenix is an optics expert and spends his days selling optics to hardcore hunters across America. He believes a hunter should never hunt in the mountains without a pair of good binoculars. “First time elk hunters might think they should spend hours each day hiking in search of elk, but the best way to cover lots of ground is with binoculars. I tell hunters to find a high spot on a mountain side and spend hours there looking for elk. If a person is going to spend a lot of time glassing, they need good glass. Swarovski, Vortex, Zeiss, Leica and Leupold make great optics that make spotting game easier than if a person was using $100 pair of binoculars. High end glass is a one time purchase if a person takes care of them and they are worth the investment,” Nelson said.
One simple thing that most people don’t think about but I make sure to have when I hunt out west is arrows that have a bright wrap on them. I prefer white arrow wraps. Pine Ridge Archery makes great wraps. Over the years, I have had many situations where finding a blood trail is difficult because the dry ground in places like New Mexico swallows up the blood that drops on the ground after the shot. With white wraps, I can quickly tell if I made a good hit after the shot if I can find my arrow. Bright lung blood shows up easily on a white wrap and following the arrow in flight is much easier when it is bright white.
GET IN SHAPE WITH WILDERNESS ATHLETE
Try Wilderness Athlete nutritional products. Most of us have a few pounds we need to shed and being in shape is necessary when hunting elk. Wilderness Athlete makes a variety of products that can help you get in shape. From healthy energy drinks to meal replacement shakes, Wilderness Athlete can help you get lean and mean before opening day. “Carrying a heavy pack up the side of a mountain is hard enough. Every extra pound a hunter loses before going hunting is one less pound he is carrying up a mountain. Losing weight can help the average hunter increase his odds of success in the woods,” Wilderness Athlete Founder, Mark Paulsen said.
I could write a book about the gear I use when hunting out west but the list above is a great starting point if you have never hunted out West and you are planning a trip.
BY TRACY BREEN
4 EASY WAYS TO MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS ENJOY HUNTING
Many kids today are not very interested in hunting. Between sports and video games, many kids are busy or find hunting boring. Many kids think hunting is boring is because their parents introduce them to deer hunting before they introduce them to any other hunting sport. Let’s face it: spending countless hours in the deer woods can be boring even for adults at times! Below are a few tips to help you get your kids hooked on the outdoors.
- Introduce your kids to a fast-paced hunting sport long before you introduce them to deer hunting. I introduced my son to squirrel hunting and turkey hunting long before I took him deer hunting. Small game hunting and turkey hunting are action packed and the success rate is high, which will keep a kid longing for more. Let your kids kill a few critters with a gun before you take them bowhunting. If they like hunting with a gun, odds are they will eventually want to bow hunt.
- Adults sometimes lose focus of ensuring hunting and shooting are fun. Many bowhunters are worried about extreme accuracy. When you introduce a kid to archery, don’t be afraid to just let them have fun. Have them shoot a balloon; have them use a crossbow first if you have one. Make target shooting fun and don’t worry about accuracy at first. When I was a kid, I was forced to shoot my bow daily. Before long, I didn’t want to shoot anymore because it turned into work. Make archery fun and your kids will always enjoy it.
- Kids are competitive and enjoy competition. If your child really loves shooting guns or bows, consider putting them in a league. They might enjoy it and stick with it for life. Many of today’s top archers started competing when they were kids just for something to do on the weekends.
- Kids enjoy personalizing things. Archers everywhere are now personalizing their bows with accessories that are their favorite sports team colors or going with all camo or all black. Pine Ridge Archery offers kisser buttons, stabilizers, peep sights and a variety of other archery accessories in a wide range of colors. When you first buy your child a bow, they are going to use for a few years. Let them choose the colors and the accessories. This will make the process of setting up a bow even more exciting for them.
BY TRACY BREEN
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN BOWHUNTING TURKEYS
Bowhunting turkeys can be difficult. However, many bowhunters enjoy the challenge. If you look at data in states that record archery kills, you will notice that the bowhunting success rate for hunting turkeys in the spring is extremely low. In fact, in many states, the success rate is in the single digits. There are many reasons some hunters tag out and some don’t. Below are a few reasons bowhunters don’t fill their tags and a few things they can do to rectify the problem.
1. SHOT PLACEMENT
Since most turkeys hunters start out turkey hunting with a shotgun, the only shot most hunters have ever taken is a head shot. Many hunters who make the switch to bowhunting turkeys aren’t always sure about where to aim. A lot of information online tells hunters to aim for the butt of the wing. The problem with this shot is if you are off a little bit, you can easily miss the bird or hit nothing but breast meat. Many turkeys live to gobble another day due to shot placement. If you are looking to maximize your odds of recovery, aim right above the drumsticks. The back half of the chest cavity is located here and all the tendons going to the legs are located here. If you hit a little low, you will break the tendons going to the legs and the bird won’t be able to fly.
2. HUNT FROM A BLIND
Many hunters think they can run and gun with a bow and just hide in front of a tree like they do when turkey hunting with a gun. Turkeys can see the slightest movement extremely well. Often when a bowhunter goes to draw, a turkey will see the movement and run. The best option is to hunt from a pop-up blind. Yes they are heavy, but it is worth the extra effort of toting one around in the woods with you. You can kill a bird without a blind but the odds are much smaller. If you plan to hunt from a blind, check out the Pine Ridge Archery Kwik Stand. This stand will keep your bow vertical and ready for the shot at all times while hunting from a blind.
3. BROADHEAD SELECTION
Many bowhunters use the wrong broadhead when bowhunting turkeys. Jeff Budz from Florida has killed dozens of longbeards with a bow. He says an extra large expandable is best. Many hunters use whatever head they use for deer. Many fixed blade and mechanical heads that are used for bowhunting deer offer a cutting diameter of 1.5” or less. The vital area on a turkey is extremely small; the larger the cutting diameter, the better odds of recovery. Using a head with a 2” cutting diameter or larger is best. Grim Reaper, Rage and many other companies make great heads that will quickly bring a turkey down.
4. DECOY PLACEMENT
Many bowhunters leave the turkey decoy at home because messing with decoys can be a pain. However, when bowhunting turkeys, the closer the turkey when you shoot, the better odds the bird is going home in a game bag. Having a decoy 15 yards will often bring the bird in closer. Greg Abbas of A-Way Hunting products, maker of Turkey Wraps, says he likes to place the decoy facing the blind when bowhunting. “A tom approaching a decoy will always try to get in front of the decoy to strut in front of the hen. When the hen is facing the blind, the tom will come in close to fan for the hen, giving the bowhunter a close shot opportunity.” Abbas said.
5. CALL SOFTLY
Many hunters call too often and too loudly. When hunting with a gun, it doesn’t matter as much because by the time the bird realizes something is wrong, it is too late. When bowhunting, most hunters want the tom close. If you call loudly when the bird is close, he will likely spook. If you call too often, he might pinpoint your location and bust you. Call extra soft and sparingly when trying to pull that tom the last twenty yards.
The odds are stacked against you when bowhunting longbeards. To increase the odds, you need to pay attention to all the little details. Can you kill a tom with a bow without a blind, a decoy and by calling loudly? For sure, but employing the tactics listed above can greatly increase your odds of success.
BY TRACY BREEN
BOLT FLETCHING AND TUNINGOne of the most important crossbow accessories is the bolt. The bolt is a smaller version of an arrow used for bowhunting. Bolts are often heavier than a regular arrow and a bit fatter but for the most part they are a short arrow. Since the bolt does the dirty work, it is important to have the bolt finely tuned. It must fly true, have a razor-sharp broadhead on the end and be fletched correctly. If not, it will fly erratically and potentially ruin hunts.
Bolts often fly at speeds exceeding 350 FPS. Bolts are extremely short and unstable in flight compared to a regular arrow shaft. To make sure your bolts fly perfectly every time, you may choose to fletch your own bolts. A bolt you fletch yourself will likely be more consistent than a bolt you pick up at the sporting goods store.
If you plan to fletch your own bolts, remember every crossbow manufacturer has a recommended bolt weight that you should use. If your bolts are heavier than what they recommend, that’s fine; in fact, heavier bolts often fly better than light ones. On the other hand, if you ignore their recommendation and use a lighter bolt and break a limb or encounter some type of problem with the crossbow, your warranty could be void. Don’t use a lighter bolt to achieve greater speeds unless you are willing to risk voiding the crossbow warranty.
When choosing a bolt, get the straightest bolt you can afford. The straighter they are, the better they fly. Look for bolts with a consistent spine. You get what you pay for and the more and consistent and straight your bolts are, the better they will fly.
Regardless of the type of bolts you choose, make sure you use the type of nock the manufacturer recommends. Some crossbows are designed to be used with a moon nock while others are designed to be used with a flat nock. In some cases, either style will work but make sure you know what style works best for your crossbow when purchasing bolts. Many companies recommend a moon nock because it ensures a good string to nock connection, greatly reducing the chance of the string going under the bolt and partially dry firing when shooting.
If you buy or fletch your own bolts, make sure the fletching is a straight fletch and not offset. If your cock feather is slightly offset, the bolt might not sit properly on the crossbow, resulting in poor bolt flight. If you are fletching your own bolts, the Pine Ridge Nitro vanes work well for bolts and are used by many bowhunters. The high-profile vane quickly stabilize the bolt in flight and the high profile vanes are designed for today’s high speed bows so they work well when used on bolts. If you haven’t fletched arrows or bolts, realized that the first few times you do it you might make a mess with the glue. Pine Ridge Archery arrow glue is a great option.
Gluing inserts in properly is very important. If your insert isn’t glued in properly, it probably won’t be squared so the bolt won’t fly properly. If you want to add front of center weight to the bolt so it flies down range, you need to buy a heavier insert. Some companies like PDP Archery offers inserts that you can add weight to. You can screw weights into the back of the insert so there is extra weight in the front of the bolt. Whether you decide to build your own bolts or purchase them ready to shoot, choosing the right broadhead is important. Since many hunters want a shaft with more weight in the front of the shaft, extra heavy broadheads are becoming very popular. Many companies are making broadheads that are 145 grains or more, especially for crossbow hunters. Other companies are making extra short, small-cutting diameter broadheads that fly well out of super-fast crossbows. Mechanical broadheads are very popular with crossbow hunters because they don’t have to worry about their bolts planing like they would if they used large cut-on-contact fixed-blade broadheads. Another thing that makes a huge difference in how bolts fly is how well the broadhead is seated inside the insert. If the broadhead isn’t aligned properly and has a little bit of play inside the insert, the flight of the bolt will be affected. Every broadhead needs to be tuned to the bolt it is on. If you unscrew it once and screw it back in later, it will need to be tuned again. Broadheads don’t always fit into inserts perfectly. The goal is having the tip of the broadhead centered in relationship to the center of the shaft. When the broadhead isn’t aligned perfectly in the insert, the shaft wobbles which affects the flight of the bolt. To properly align a broadhead, use an arrow spinner.
Arrow spinners are inexpensive and if broadheads aren’t seated properly, they will wobble while being spun. The same is true for the bolt itself; if it isn’t made properly, if it isn’t straight or is a dud, you will probably see it wobble on the spinner. Pine Ridge Archery makes a great arrow spinner. It even breaks down so it can be put inside your case and taken hunting.
To spin test each bolt, put it on the spinner and put the point of the broadhead against a piece of cardboard and spin the bolt. If it is wobbling, you will see a circular motion created by the tip of the broadhead against the cardboard as it is rolled. If the broadhead is properly aligned, the point will stay in one spot as the broadhead spins. To fix the problem, rotate the bolt to the high side of the circle and mark the top of the broadhead with a marker. Rotate the bolt 180 degrees opposite of the mark and press the tip of the broadhead against a hard surface. This will push the broadhead around inside the insert until it is dead center in relationship to the center of the shaft. Now when you spin the bolt, it should spin perfectly.
You may want to paper tune your bolts to make sure they are flying properly. If they don’t create a perfect hole when they pass through the paper, maybe one of the fletchings or nocks are not properly aligned. Adjusting a nock slightly if it wasn’t aligned properly can fix the problem. Last, weigh each completed arrow before heading to the woods. Not every shaft is going to weight the same and not every broadhead will weigh the same. If one bolt weighs 20 grams more than the others, find out why. Sometimes one broadhead might weigh more or a bolt may weigh more. Try mixing and matching broadheads and bolts until you end up with a quiver full of bolts that weigh within ten grains of each other. This will ensure that they all fly about the same.
Keep in mind that many states have speed restrictions for crossbows. If you have a fast crossbow and live in a state that has a 350 FPS restriction on crossbows you might need an extra heavy bolt to ensure that you meet the speed limit.
Fletching, tuning and weighing your own bolts can be hard work but after all is said and done, I think keeping a group the size of a pie plate at sixty yards is worth the extra work.
BY TRACY BREEN
BOWHUNTING SMALL GAME
When archers think about bowhunting, the first animal that comes to mind is the Whitetail. Other popular animals that bowhunters love chasing include bears, elk and moose. There are a few other critters everyone should have on their bowhunting bucket list. Are you ready for it? Fox squirrels, rabbits, and birds like partridge or crows should be on the list. These critters are fun to shoot, easy to find and the ability to hit these small animals requires patience and skill.
One mistake many bowhunters make is introducing their kids to deer hunting without starting them on other animals first. Today more than ever, kids aren’t interested in sitting around waiting for a whitetail to show up. Successfully harvesting a whitetail with a bow requires endless hours in the stand and the odds of missing or making a mistake when a shot presents itself is extremely high. Small game hunting with a bow or gun can be action-packed and kids love sports that are action-packed. Take a kid small game hunting with a bow and bring your bow and shoot a few animals. You will have a blast.
Another reason to small game hunt with a bow is it can help you hone your yardage estimation skills. We all love using rangefinders, but when a shot opportunity presents itself in the woods, often we don’t have time to pull our rangefinder out and determine the exact yardage to the animal. This happens to me all the time when I am hunting out west. When I am elk hunting, I rarely have time to get my rangefinder on the bull. I rely more on yardage estimation. When shooting at a squirrel in a tree or a rabbit, I like to guesstimate. If I am fairly close with my yardage estimation, I have meat in the freezer. If not, I usually miss altogether and try to get close to another small critter. A few years ago while moose hunting in Alaska, I small game hunted with my bow after harvesting a bull. The truth is I had more fun chasing small game around than I did the moose.
Small game hunting with a bow is inexpensive, it only requires a few old arrows, some small game heads and you can use the bow rig you currently have. Best of all, small game hunting with a bow will make you a better bowhunter. Learning how to spot and stalk and dealing with pressure from small game hunting will help you fine tune your skills. We can shoot at targets all day but it is nothing like shooting at a living breathing animal. Shooting at an animal, regardless if it is a 200-pound monster buck or a 2-pound squirrel, requires concentration and skill. Shooting at a target doesn’t get the heart pumping like shooting at an animal does.
Do yourself a favor this fall and winter and go small game hunting with a bow. Many of us grew up small game hunting but gave it up. Small game hunting is something anyone can do and shooting at a small object in the woods will likely make you an all around better bowhunter so when a buck steps out in front of you, you are ready to make the shot.
If you decide to small game hunt this fall, I suggest you get some Nitro Arrow Wraps. One thing I have learned is when shooting into trees and in the brush, finding your arrow after the shot can be tough. A bright arrow wrap can help you quickly find your arrow. After all, who wants to waste a lighted nock on a squirrel?
If you are going to be small game hunting with kids, get them a small game target that they can shoot at. One option is the Master Target face target shown here. This target is inexpensive, can be placed on almost any foam target, and lasts a long time. This target will help get kids ready for the real thing.
BY TRACY BREEN
SHOOTING LIKE A PRO
When it comes to archery, there are a few select archers that can drive tacks regardless of the distance to the target. Whether they are shooting at 20 yards or 100 yards, they hit the mark almost every time. Are these archers just gifted? Maybe, but one thing most of them are is dedicated to the sport. I interviewed Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery about what it takes to be an extremely good archer. Below are a few of his tips for all of you out there who want to raise their game.
Most archers who are extremely accurate shoot their bow several times a week and pay attention to every shot they take. They are constantly analyzing their form, their shooting habits and doing everything they can to increase their accuracy. If a person wants to be super accurate, they must shoot a lot, have a critical eye and always look for ways to improve,” Maxfield suggested.
- Most tournament shooters and successful bowhunters work on their own bows at least some of the time. “I think it is good to have a nearby pro shop that you work with, but it is also important to know how to work on your own bow. You need to know how a bow works. A bow mechanic, so to speak, is going to be a better archer than someone who doesn’t know how to fletch arrows or tie in a peep sight,” Maxfield added. (If you are looking for a new peep sight, check out the Pine Ridge Archery Nitro Peep.)
- Speaking of peep sights, Maxfield says you will never see a pro shooter that doesn’t use a peep sight. “More bowhunters are going without a peep sight because they are worried about shooting in low light conditions or they think since they are getting older, they can’t see through a peep any more. Even a large peep sight is better than not using one. A peep sight can drastically improve accuracy. Everyone should use a peep sight,” Maxfield advised.
- All serious archers practice at long distances. “Most bowhunters only shoot at 30 or 40 yards because most bowhunters only hunt whitetails. Bowhunters should practice at 50 yards and beyond. It will help increase their overall accuracy which will make those 20 yard shots in the woods that much easier,” Maxfield noted.
- Most hardcore shooters shoot in 3D leagues during the off season. Whether they do it for fun or money, they do it because it helps them sharpen their skills and shoot under pressure. If you want to increase your odds of success this fall, join an archery league. You will be glad you did.
BY TRACY BREEN
HOW FAR IS FAR ENOUGH?
A question that often comes up amongst crossbow hunters is how far can a person accurately and ethically shoot at an animal in the woods when hunting with a crossbow? Many hunters who have picked up a crossbow for the first time within the last few years have a tendency to believe they are more like a rifle than a bow. As a result, many folks take shots that they probably shouldn’t. “A crossbow is a weapon that shoots an arrow. As a result, it is somewhat limited in its ability to take extremely long shots. Today’s crossbows are extremely deadly weapons in the right hands but just like with a rifle or a conventional bow, it always depends on who the trigger man is,” Jim Kempf from Scorpyd Crossbows said.
Whether I have a crossbow or conventional bow in my hand, I won’t take a shot in the woods past 40 yards. I feel like 40 yards is my max in a hunting situation. I have friends that can hit a quart jar at 100 yards with a bow and a crossbow. Does that mean they should take a shot in the woods at 100 yards? The answer is probably not. “Some of today’s crossbows are so accurate that they can keep a tight group at 100 yards. When a crossbow is perfectly tuned, it is amazing how accurate they can be. We have many customers who regularly practice at 80 yards and beyond. Most of them would never take that shot on a life animal though,” Kempf added.
How far is far enough for you? How should you determine what yardage should be your max? The answer is simple. If you spend much time in the backyard shooting, you can easily determine your maximum hunting distance. “I always tell people whatever distance they want to be able to hunt at they should be able to take that shot in the backyard plus twenty or so yards beyond it and keep it in a two inch circle. Many hunters consider the pie plate test the standard. If they can hit a pie plate at X distance, they can take that shot in the field. There are many variables in the woods that are out of our control. As a result, we should hold ourselves to the highest standard when practicing so if something doesn’t go just right in the field, we still make a good shot,” Kempf noted.
One of the biggest reasons for not shooting at extreme distances is because deer move and an arrow isn’t a bullet. “At 50 or more yards, if a deer takes one step forward or backward when the trigger is pulled, chances are the bolt will hit the animal in the guts or the shoulder. At 100 yards, one step will likely mean a complete miss. These mistakes can be made at 30 yards,” Kempf explained.
According to Kempf, if a hunter wants to take a shot at 40 yards and beyond with a crossbow, they should be a great shot and the hunting situation better be a perfect one. “When taking extreme shots, the animal should be completely relaxed and feeding or doing something that keeps it preoccupied so the hunter is fairly certain the animal isn’t going to jump the string or take a step. It all comes down to a hunters’ ability to read an animal’s behavior,” Kempf said.
Let’s face it: if you can extend your range 10 or 15 yards beyond your current comfort level, you might be able to put more meat in the freezer. Kempf says there are plenty of things hunters can do to increase their level of accuracy. “Hunters must realize that a high quality crossbow has more than enough kinetic energy to get the job done at ranges way beyond what people are capable of. There are no worries of running out of kinetic energy. It all boils down to skill and the level to which a person is willing to tune their crossbow.” According to Kempf, one of the easiest ways to increase your accuracy is by building your own bolts. A gun hunter who wants to shrink his groups loads his own ammunition. A crossbow hunter should do the same thing. Fletching your own arrows, weighing each arrow before it enters your quiver and testing several broadheads before choosing one can drastically shrink a group of bolts at long ranges. We have found that very few fixed blade heads fly well out of crossbows that shoot 400 feet per second or faster. As a result, using a mechanical can drastically shrink a group. Having a bolt that is the correct spine for the weight of the crossbow is also important. Don’t just buy a 6 pack of bolts at the store; buy a high end bolt and put all the components together yourself.”
Not every broadhead in a pack weighs the same, not every vane flies the same, and not every nock will shoot the same. Determine what works best for your setup and weigh each bolt to make sure every bolt that enters your quiver weighs the same as the others. “What everyone is looking for is accuracy. To get accuracy, each arrow must be a twin of the one next to it. A bolt isn’t very forgiving when traveling 400 feet per second if the vanes aren’t glued on correctly. If a broadhead likes to plane a little, your group will open up. When each arrow is exactly the same, the groups will shrink drastically.”
Know your weapon. “Many people only shoot their crossbow a few times a year which is a mistake,” says Kempf. “You need to get to know the trigger on the crossbow, feel comfortable with it on a shooting stick and on a rail in a treestand to know how far you can ethically shoot. If a person only shoots a few times a year, they really shouldn’t shoot much beyond 40 yards or so. If they put the time into practicing and fine tuning their arrows, shooting beyond that is very doable but I don’t think anyone would shoot at an animal at 100 yards even though the weapons are capable of that distance.”
Would you like to take a 40-yard shot in the field or further? Practice at 60 or 70 yards, fletch your own bolts and practice until you are blue in the face. The next time a buck steps out a 45 yards, you will have the confidence to get the shot done. If you don’t practice and buy bolts off the shelf, 30 yards is always a safe bet.
WANT MORE KINETIC ENERGY??
If you are looking for ways to increase the amount of kinetic energy you deliver downrange, check out the Nitro Vane from Pine Ridge Archery. Bob Donahoe recently tested the vane with his Velocitip System and had this to say about the vane, “The Nitro Vane is the only vane tested to retain greater than 91% of its kinetic energy at twenty yards. The Nitro Vane retained a higher percentage of kinetic energy and provided the greatest kinetic energy in absolute terms – maximum foot-pounds delivered to the target. The ability to retain energy downrange is beneficial to any bowhunter or crossbow hunter,” said Donahoe. To learn more about the Nitro Vane, visit www.pineridgearchery.com.
BY TRACY BREEN