Pine Ridge Archery
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
During the summer, most of us shoot into targets to prepare for the fall bowhunting season. This time of year, there is one thing you can do to keep your skills sharp that is more fun than just shooting into a pile of foam. You can go bowfishing. Bowfishing is increasing in popularity largely because it is action packed. Getting started in bowfishing doesn’t need to break the bank. Brodie Swisher, founder of the Bowfishingtour.com, knows a few things about bowfishing. “Bowfishing is a great sport that bowhunters can participate in almost any time of the year. One of the great things about bowfishing is people can get involved in it without breaking the bank,” Swisher explained.
Some guys have high-end bowfishing boats equipped with fancy motors, expensive lights and raised platforms, but you don’t have to start there. “Many people start by picking up a pawn shop bow and a bowfishing real kit that comes with a bowfishing arrow and tip, away they go,” Swisher added.
The most sought after fish is the carp, but many go after garpike, dog fish and a few other species. “The cool thing about bowfishing is there are many carp to go after. It isn’t like going deer hunting where you might hunt for weeks without a shot opportunity. Most people who regularly bowfish rarely go home empty-handed.”
The best time to go bowfishing is during the late spring and early summer when carp and other garbage fish are spawning in the shallows of lakes and rivers. “If a person is starting out in the sport, they can wade around and shoot fish during the heat of the day and have a great time,” Swisher noted. “It’s fun and it keeps a person’s muscles strong and helps with eye hand coordination. I think it can help a person become a better all around archer.”
People who want to take the sport to the next level can bowfish at night while using spotlights. “Bowfishing at night is a blast. Shooting at fish as they go swimming by under the light is fun and there are many all night tournaments around the country that add friendly competition to the mix, which makes it even more exciting.”
If you get into bowfishing, you will end up with piles of carp. “Many people use the fish for fertilizing gardens and rose bushes. Some people even eat them. Regardless of what you do with them, shooting them is a great way to pass the time in the summer when there is nothing else to hunt,” Swisher suggested.
When bowfishing, most people use a recurve or bow like a Mathews Genesis. These bows can be fired quickly and without being at full draw. If bowfishing sounds like fun to you, get a cheap bow, outfit it with a bowfishing kit, a set of Pine Ridge Archery Finger Savers so you can quickly and easily draw, and fire the bow. You will be good to go.
BY TRACY BREEN
KIDS ARCHERY 101 - BY TRACY BREEN
In the last five years, a plethora of movies have hit the big screen that portray archery in a positive light. The Hunger Games is by far the most popular movie series out there that has put archery front and center in today’s culture. Brave from Disney and others have also helped shed some light on how awesome the sport of archery can be. As a result, more kids are asking their parents if they can shoot a bow. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery in Minnesota has noticed an uptick in bow sales. Schaffer owns a pro shop and manufactures bow sights and arrow rests. “We have noticed many people bringing kids into the shop asking for a kids’ bow in the last few years. It is really cool that parents and kids are interested in the sport of archery,” Schaffer said. Getting started in archery is not like learning to play basketball. Some attention to detail is required. It is best if a child gets a quality bow and quality instruction. Below are a few tips to get a child started properly started in archery.
VISIT A PRO-SHOP
John Schaffer is quick to point out that if a parent is planning to purchase their child a bow, they should purchase a bow from an archery pro shop, not a box store. “When a person comes into a pro shop with a child, we spend a lot of time making sure they purchase a bow that fits them. We also make sure they are pulling the proper amount of weight,” said Schaffer. “I see many parents purchase a bow that doesn’t fit their child and the kid often ends up pulling too much weight so it is hard for them to pull back the bow. If a child can only pull 10 pounds, that’s fine. Eventually they will pull more weight. In the beginning, we want them only pulling what they can comfortably draw,” Schaffer explained.
PURCHASE A BOW A CHILD CAN GROW WITH
It is important to note when picking out a bow for a youngster that a bow is chosen that the kid can grow with. “Many companies including Mission Archery, PSE and others make bows that have adjustable draw weight and draw length so a kid can use the same bow for years as they grow.” Once you have a bow for your child trick it out in colored accessories from Pine Ridge Archery. “Kids all have a favorite color,” said Bychowski. “Tricking their bow out in all matching accessories makes shooting more fun for a kid.”
START THEM OFF CLOSE
When introducing a child to archery, Schaffer suggests starting them close to the target. “Because adults often shoot at 20 or 30 yards, many parents think their kids should be shooting at the same distance. Kids will have a hard time hitting the target at that distance when they are just starting out. I start every kid at five or ten feet. The goal early on is to just hit the target. I am not worried about accuracy. When they can consistently hit a target, I lengthen the distance between them and the target.” Schaffer also starts kids off shooting at balloons because kids love hearing the balloon pop when the arrow hits it. “The goal is to make archery fun and exciting and shooting at balloons does that,” Schaffer added.
BUY A TARGET
Once a child is set up, it is important that they shoot at home if possible. “We always encourage parents to get their kids a target so they can shoot in the backyard if it is legal where they live. Parents shouldn’t just purchase any target. There are youth targets on the market. Morrell Targets and others make targets that are built to be shot at with lightweight bows. It is really discouraging for a kid if they shoot at a target and the arrow bounces off the target. Arrows will not penetrate targets built for kids and the arrows will be easy to remove for the kids, which makes shooting fun. After a kid is pulling plenty of weight, buy them a few 3D targets for the backyard. Kids love shooting at animals. It also helps teach them about the anatomy of animals which they will need to know if they start bowhunting,” Schaffer noted.
TRY A LEAGUE OR A TOURNAMENT
Archery is just like any sport; the more a child shoots their bow, the more accurate they will become. “We have youth leagues in our store and it has become very popular. Children enjoy competition so kids are attracted to leagues,” Schaffer said. Brian Bychowski from Pine Ridge Archery has taken it one step further. His daughter, Elena shoots in tournaments all over the country and they both have a great time doing it. “The wonderful thing about archery is a child can quickly see the results of their hard work. My daughter loves to shoot competition. We never get too serious; we just have fun with it. There is no doubt that she will be bowhunting with me when she gets a little older. The goal right now is to make archery and tournaments fun,” Bychowski said.
Schaffer echoed what Bychowski said. “I tell parents they need to keep it fun. We never try to overload a kid with too much technical information when we start them out. We put a bow in their hand, teach them a little bit about proper form and technique, and let them shoot several arrows. Keeping it fun is a necessity and when it is fun, they will keep doing it.”
GET INVOLVED IN ARCHERY PROGRAMS
P.J. Perea from the NWTF knows all about keeping archery fun. The NWTF has partnered with N.A.S.P (The National Archery In The Schools Program) and Scholastic 3D Archery to promote archery to kids in school and after school. “These programs teach the sport of archery and show kids how much fun archery can be. The N.A.S.P. program gets kids started with archery while they are at school. The S3DA is a program to get kids into 3D archery. Of course, if you get kids into shooting 3D animals, eventually many of those kids are going to want to archery hunt which gets more hunters in the woods which is a big plus for hunting and the NWTF,” said Perea. “Getting kids involved in archery is a great thing all the way around. Archery is a sport anyone can participate in and many kids who start out just shooting for fun take up bowhunting.” Matt McPherson from Mathews Archery once told me the thing that makes archery cool is that a kid doesn’t have to be athletic to excel it. Many of us were not born to be baseball or football stars. Yet we can all excel in the sport of archery. If you have a child who needs a little confidence booster, put a bow in their hand and watch their face light up. Many kids who have grown up with a bow in their hand have gone on to be some of the best archers in the world. If you haven’t done so already, bring your child into a pro-shop and get them started on the right foot. The smile on their face when they see the first arrow hit the bullseye will be priceless.
Sidebar 1- PROPER SETUP AND TECHNIQUE
Some parents want their child to shoot a recurve or longbow like they see in the movies. Some parents want their child to use a compound bow, especially if the parent already owns a compound bow. Schaffer recommends a compound. “If a child is under the age of 6 years old, we start them on a Mathews Genesis bow without any sight or gadgets except a kisser button. If a child is over the age of 6, we have them start with a compound bow that has an adjustable draw weight and draw length. We set them up with a kisser button, a sight and a rest. This allows them to start learning proper form and shooting techniques right off the bat. A kisser button really helps a child learn how to shoot the same way, shot after shot. Learning on a traditional bow takes more time and they are much harder to pull back. A compound is typically a better choice for a child.”
BY TRACY BREEN
30 Day Plank Challenge
We are getting in shape for hunting season and we want you to join us! Take the 30 Day Plank Challenge (#pineridgeplank) and be in better shape come hunting season. This is of course one part of a full fitness program, but we think it is a great start or add on.
Simply follow the daily chart below and post a photo(s) of yourself "planking". We will pick some lucky folks to get some Pine Ridge Archery swag along the way. Be sure to post your photo on http://facebook.com/pineridgearchery and use the #pineridgeplank
You do not need a special trip to the gym for this, simply carve out a small space and dedicate a couple of minutes. It is that easy!
TIPS FOR BOWHUNTING LONGBEARDS
Spring is coming and now is the time to consider bowhunting gobblers this spring. Taking a turkey with a bow can be extremely challenging. The eyesight of a gobbler combined with the fact that they spook easily makes getting to full draw difficult. If you want to kill a turkey with a bow this spring, below are some tips to help you prepare for opening day.
- Practice from a blind if you intend to hunt from a blind. Shooting from a blind isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Set a blind up in your backyard and shoot at your target at a variety of different yardages. Shoot at the target at five and ten yards, not just at 20 and 30 yards. Turkeys often come in close and shooting high happens often in the turkey woods. Knowing exactly where to aim when a bird is in close is a necessity. Don’t guess because the vitals on a turkey are extremely small.
- Know where the vitals are located on a turkey. The vitals are only the size of a softball and knowing where to aim, especially if a bird is strutting, can be difficult. If you know where the vitals are located, you will know where to aim regardless if the bird is strutting, facing away from you, or standing broadside. Check out turkey vital diagrams online or look at a Master Target face target.
- Consider shooting a turkey in the head. A head shot can be difficult but the wonderful thing about a head shot is if you hit the head, the bird dies; if you miss, it lives to see another day. You don’t have to worry about wounding a bird. If you are considering shooting only at the head, purchase one of the broadheads designed especially for the headshot.
- Use a top notch decoy. Avian X and others make decoys that look life like. The closer you can get a longbeard to your decoy, the better chance you have of going home with a gobbler in your vest. Realistic decoys pull birds in close. The best turkey decoy is a real stuffed bird. If that is out of your price range, consider buying a Turkey Skinz. Turkey Skinz are a real turkey skin that wraps around any foam decoy to give the decoy a lifelike look. The skin has feathers and wings attached so it makes any decoy look great.
- Use bright fletching. Pine Ridge Nitro Vanes are available in many bright colors. You will always want to know where the arrow hits when shooting the bird. Bright fletching will help you determine where you hit the bird. I always aim right above the drumsticks and love watching the arrow disappear into the bird about three to six inches above where the legs attach to the body.
BY TRACY BREEN
JOIN A WINTER ARCHERY LEAGUE
The snow is practically knee deep in my backyard right now. The temperatures are in the single digits and shooting my bow outside is somewhat out of the question. If you live in the northern part of the United States, you are probably in the same boat. It is cold outside and going out to let a few arrows fly isn’t much fun. What should you do? One option is to join an archery league. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville, MN says joining a league can really help archers improve their skills and make them an all around better archer. “Many bowhunters take six months off from archery. This is not the case with bowhunters who shoot an indoor league. By shooting during the winter, a bowhunter can keep his muscles strong, his form in good shape, and even learn how to shoot better under pressure.”
Shooting indoors during the winter is a great time to experiment with new gear. If you want to try a new sight, rest or arrows, doing it during the winter will help you get dialed in long before hunting season. Maybe you want to try out the new Nitro Vanes from Pine Ridge Archery or a new Nitro Stabilizer. Trying them out during the winter is much better than late August!Shooting at deer can be very nerve racking. Shooting in a league can also be intimidating, which is one of the reasons Schaffer recommends shooting in a league. “Shooting when a lot of people are watching you can be very nerve racking, especially if you are trying to beat your buddy who is watching as you shoot. This little bit of pressure will force a person to concentrate on making the shot. If a person shoots in a league consistently, they get over the problem of shooting under pressure which will make them a better bowhunter.”
BY TRACY BREEN
ANTELOPE ON A BUDGET
When most people think about going on a bowhunting trip, the first thing that they think of is going after whitetails. Whitetails are the most sought after game animal in the world so it isn’t a surprise that most bowhunters would want to pursue big bucks. What most people don’t realize is that the success rate when bowhunting with a whitetail outfitter is only about 30%. If you want to save up your money and go on an adventure, there are several game animals that offer a high success rate and a less expensive price.
One of my favorites is the antelope. Antelope hunting doesn’t cost much money and the odds of success are extremely high. Most bowhunters who hunt antelope out west with an outfitter have a shot opportunity. This fall I hunted with Trujillo Creek Outfitters in Southern Colorado. They offer a Trespass hunt where you are dropped off on private land each day to hunt. You hunt in a comfortable ground blind that sits on a waterhole. A waterhole hunt is fairly easy and the success rate is extremely high. The cost of a trip like this is often $2,000 or less.
On top of having a really good opportunity of tagging an animal, you get to experience a different part of the country. I brought my family on my Colorado antelope hunt. While I hunted, they got to experience all the west has to offer. From visiting tourist towns to swimming in the pool at the La Quinta hotel, my hunt was more than a hunt; it was a family vacation. It is hard to turn a guided whitetail hunt into a family vacation unless the entire family is hunting.
Going on a bucket list hunt that brings you to an area of the country you have never seen and being successful on top of it is hard to put a price tag on. The cool thing is the price tag on an antelope hunt is inexpensive.... and when ground into burger, antelope makes great table fare.
On a side note, shooting a bow at extreme ranges when getting ready for an antelope hunt is necessary. The vitals on an antelope are fairly small and if the waterhole hunting doesn’t work out, long shots are the norm. In preparation for my hunt, I regularly shot at 60 and 70 yards. When shooting at these distances, having a fine tuned setup is a necessity. I used a Pine Ridge Archery Nitro Peep and a Nitro Stabilizer.
Antelope are cool looking critters that inhabit an awesome landscape. Do yourself a favor and try antelope hunting next fall.
BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com
Whether you are new to archery or you are a veteran, one thing many of us struggle with is relaxing before, during, and after the shot. Many bowhunters love to have a death grip on the bow while they are shooting. Many believe if they want to keep their bow steady, they need to grip it tightly. The truth is the tighter the grip on the bow, the greater chance there is of making a bad shot. Why? Because when the bow is tightly gripped, we often move our bow arm upon the release of the arrow. The lack of follow through results in not hitting the mark. A relaxed grip often results in hitting the mark. When the bow arm is relaxed and you aim and shoot, the bow doesn’t jerk or move around much. It basically stays in about the same place as when you shot. Relaxed form and shooting is how the professionals shoot.
To shoot with a relaxed bow hand, you need a wrist sling. A wrist sling helps support the bow and keep your hand where it needs to be to make a good shot. Pine Ridge Archery offers a wide variety of wrist slings including the Nitro Wrist Sling and the Kwik Sling. When adjusting your sling, make sure it is snug around your wrist so it can help support the bow when you are shooting so a good shot is made. A simple wrist sling can really help shrink arrow groups at short distances and extreme distances.
When talking about shooting with a relaxed bow hand, it is also important to discuss your trigger hand. Many bowhunters, especially when in high pressure situations, tend to jerk the release and punch the trigger when shooting. This can result in a loss of accuracy. Any retired military sniper will tell you that if you want to hit the mark every time, you have to gently squeeze the trigger, not punch it. When choosing a release, make sure you buy one that has an adjustable trigger so it can be adjusted to be a smooth trigger that doesn’t take much pull to go off. Teach yourself to slowly squeeze the trigger. When the arrow gets released, it should be a surprise. In order for it to be a surprise, you need to learn to slowly pull the trigger.
Learning how to relax the trigger hand and the bow hand when shooting can greatly shrink your arrow groups.
BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com