Basic Summer Archery Practice Progression

Practice Shooting Your Bow Now to Gain Confidence for Deer Hunting Season 

By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED June 29th, 2023

Every summer I start my practice sessions off the same way, shaky arms and loose groups. Am I terrible on the first session of the year? Not really, I’ve shot a bow for over two decades, so there is some inherit form there, but for my preferred hunting standards, yes…it’s pretty rough. I’d say the same goes for most bow hunters. As soon as hunting season ends, we all tend to put the bow on the hanger for a couple months. Some of us leave it up longer than that. A small offseason break is good but you don’t want to wait too long to break the bow back out and start shooting. 

I like to follow a basic practice routine and schedule during the summers. I start somewhere in late June or early July. This will give me about two and a half to three months of solid practice before the season starts. My personal progression is pretty simple and an easy one for novice archers to follow. The progression is as follows: perfect your form, hone your skills, and then harden your nerves. Pretty basic right? Let’s take a look at each step and break them down into the most important aspects.

How to Practice

Before we dive into each step we need to briefly discuss how to practice. Your shooting sessions should be brief. There is no need to shoot 500 arrows a day, this could possibly accentuate bad habits. Instead stick to 15-20 well thought out shots. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Keeping your practice sessions short will force you to focus and make every arrow count. It also keeps weakness and shakiness from becoming an issue, therefore cutting down on the possibility that you develop bad habits. Want something else to fill your time? Do some archery specific exercises like theraband rows or shoulder blade retractions. It’s not shooting directly but it is beneficial to your archery success.

Perfect Your Form

This is how I like to start my shooting in the summer. I like to take the first two to three weeks perfecting my form. When you haven’t shot in a few months you can get pretty rusty. I like to start with a typical dotted bag or block target at 20 yards. Instead of focusing on stacking arrows on top of each other, really focus on your form. Proper back tension, proper riser grip, and proper trigger squeeze all need to be achieved on a consistent basis over the course of this period. Once you feel that you have achieved good, repeatable form, then we can start working on honing your archery skills. 


Hone Your Skills

Now we can focus on stacking arrows. Your form has been built and you’re ready to start mixing it up. The next three to four weeks will be spent shooting varied shots. Start changing up your distances and angles. If your max shooting distance during the season is 40 yards, practice at 50 and 60. It’ll make 40 feel like 25. And imagine what it’ll make 20 feel like! Also practice your in-between yardages (27, 34, etc.). This is a great opportunity to learn how your sight pins perform at variable distances. This is the core of your summer practice. Change it up, we are building skill now, not form. 

Harden Your Nerves

Finally in the last month or so before the season, it is time to start hardening your skill and your nerves. There is no better way to put ice in your veins than to shoot under pressure. First and foremost, shoot while people are watching. The added pressure of extra eyes scrutinizing your form is beneficial. It makes you focus and talk yourself through the pressure. Another way to pressurize the situation, while also adding a ton of fun, is to shoot in 3D competitions or shoot for dough in the yard. Get your buddies together on a weeknight and have an impromptu competition for $5 a guy. Nobody will put pressure on you like a buddy trying to win your money. The point in all this goofiness is to shoot at 3D targets, learn anatomy, and put pressure on yourself, that way when the actual pressure comes you’ll be prepared. 

This is how I plan to tackle my summer this year. The key is to have a plan and stick to it. Remember perfect practice makes perfect and consistency is the goal. Go into this fall being a better archer than you were last year. Let’s get shooting!

Remember, Don't Forget Your Release


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