Pine Ridge Archery



Tracy Breen with bull elk

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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.
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


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
In today’s fast paced world, if you want your kids to carry on the hunting tradition you have to make sure to introduce them to the sport in a fun or exciting way or they will give it up and go back to playing video games and sitting on the couch. Hunting is a great family activity. Take the time to introduce your kids to it the right way and you will have a hunting partner for life.
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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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


One 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.
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discusses how he overcomes cerebral palsy. He currently works with a variety of companies including Pine Ridge Archery, Mathews Archery, Wilderness Athlete, Grim Reaper, Full Flight Technology and Schaffer Performance Archery. Learn more about him at:


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.

About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discusses how he overcomes cerebral palsy. He currently works with a variety of companies including Pine Ridge Archery, Mathews Archery, Wilderness Athlete, Grim Reaper, Full Flight Technology and Schaffer Performance Archery. Learn more about him at:


Joel Maxfield Mathews Archery

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.

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


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.


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

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



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, 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.

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



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.


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.


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.”

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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.”

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

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 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!