In this video from Bowhunter.com, Randy Ulmer share a tactic that he like to use, which is to “draw and aim at every legal deer that comes along within shooting range.” Randy concludes that the two or three shots most of us get a year at live animals just isn’t enough practice. And, no matter how much practice we do at the range, you can’t replicate what it is like to draw on a live animal, or aim at one.
By stepping through his shot sequence on an animal that Randy doesn’t intend to actually kill, he learns what he can and can’t get away with, and get a chance to study the animal’s behavior during the encounter. Randy concludes that, more often than not, he has more opportunities and more time to take a shot than he would have thought.
I hate to be the guy to question the almighty Randy Ulmer, but I’m not so sure that this is a good exercise to practice regularly. I agree with Randy that conventional practice cannot adequately prepare someone for an encounter with a wild animal. I wish that there was a way to practice for such a moment, but I think the only way gain that experience is through, you guessed it… hunting experience.
A huge problem that I see with this exercise is that you are breaking a standard safety rule. To borrow an idea from our firearm shooting brethren, “Never point the weapon at anything you are not willing to kill or destroy.” This principle obviously applies to bowhunting as well.
I don’t think it is a good idea to draw on, nor aim at, an animal that we don’t intend to kill. I know that Randy stressed he only practices this exercise on legal animals, but even so – do you really want to draw, anchor, settle, and aim on a small buck when you only intend to harvest a trophy? Or, what if you are hunting on an either-sex tag and plan on harvesting a buck, would you practice this exercise on a doe?
One of the reasons that I practice my shot sequence is to be able to go on “auto pilot” and execute a shot when the moment counts. Going through all the motions without unleashing an arrow is not only potentially dangerous, it is breaking-down the mental “programming” and muscle memory that I have worked so hard to build up.
Additionally, one of the purposes of this technique is to see what you can and can’t get away with. Is that a good idea? Do you want to risk spooking that doe and having her blow out surrounding deer? Should you really go through all of this movement when the trophy of your dreams may be making its approach behind the animal that you are ‘practicing’ on?
Maybe I am over reacting. I would love to hear what you think about this idea!