Becoming Better Bowhunters Together – Can You Help Me?

A recurring thought that I’ve had over the past year is…

“What if I did all of this planning, preparing, and training for hunting, and then squander it all with a bad shot when an opportunity presents itself?”

Bowhunting is hard.  There’s no denying it.  Unless your one of the few bowhunters that hunts where animals are plentiful, then you know that shot opportunities can be hard to come by, and that making the most of “the moment” is paramount.  What if – after all the “unsuccessful” time I’ve put in this season – I get a shot opportunity at a great buck?  I’ll have just a few seconds to do something that I’ve literally been waiting hours, days, weeks, even months to do.  Can I do it?

To make the most of hard-earned shot opportunities you need to be on the top of your game with your confidence, mental strength, physical ability, and equipment setup.  I feel like this is something that I have done well, but I also know that I can get better in these areas.

Bowhunter at full-draw

Bowhunters have to constantly learn, adapt, and grow.  One of my personal goals for 2014, and thus one of my goals for Sole Adventure in the coming year, is to take my archery skills and knowledge to the next level – all with the purpose of becoming a more effective hunter.

I’m a good shot, but I want to be better than good.  I know a fair amount about the fundamentals of archery equipment and tuning, but I want to know more.  There are a lot of things that bowhunter can learn from target archers, and I want to glean some of those tips, tricks, and techniques.

Is the same thing true of you?

Do you want to be a more capable, confident, knowledgeable bowhunter?

Do you want to move beyond just “shooting your bow”, and become proficient enough to execute good shots under pressure?  Do you want to build more confidence and extend your effective range?  Do you want to know how your bow works?  How to tune the most accuracy of your setup?  How to setup, repair, and tweak your bow without relying on driving to the local pro shop?

My answer to each of those questions is, “Yes, I do!”

Tweaking my bow release

What would help you?

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re even remotely interested in what I’ve had to say, then can you do me a huge favor?  Whether you are a total beginner, a casual bowhunter with some experience, or a veteran of the stick and string – can you tell me what you want to learn more about?

What would help you become a more capable, knowledgeable, effective bowhunter?

I’ve got plenty of ideas outlined for the coming year, but I want your input, too.  I’m looking for specific bow-related topics that you want to know about.  No topic is too big or too small.  Nothing is too advanced, or too basic.  No question is dumb.  (If you’re wondering about something, then someone else is too.)

How to tie a d-loop…How to check and synchronize cam timing…How to use a proper bow grip…How to broadhead tune…What’s the difference between paper tuning, walkback tuning, and French tuning?

Do you want to know more about technique, more about the technical details and workings of your bow setup, or more about some other bowhunting-related topic?  Tell me about it.

I promise you this…

I will read, value, and consider each and every one of your questions and suggestions.  I’ll do my best to address the topics you suggest – either with the knowledge and experience that I have, or by using the connections that I have to get an answers from some amazing archers and bowhunters around the country.  I want to take your question or topic, and if it all possible, produce articles and videos like this…

Defeating Target Panic – How to Shoot a Hinge or “Back Tension” Release

And if all of this archery talk isn’t your thing, then don’t worry!  There will still be plenty of other topics covered on Sole Adventure in terms of hunting tactics, physical training, gear reviews, etc.

Give and get

I’ve got several brand new bowhunting-related items that I simply don’t need; so give me your topic ideas, and in a few weeks I’ll contact some of the responders to offer some of these gear items.  I don’t have a full list of what’s available yet – but trust me, I’ve got some items that nearly any bowhunter could use.

Let’s hear it…

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Nathan Smith

    I would love a good shooting techniques outline. I know they have them out there, but maybe techniques to be used in the field. Like, grip, what types of shots to practice, and things like this.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for the ideas, Nathan! Could you be a little more specific regarding your comment about a tuning guide for sights and strings? Are you wondering about setup/tune after installing a new string?

      • Nathan Smith

        Ya, exactly that. Also, making sure that they aren’t out of tune. Being as prepared as possible for the hunt

  • Nathan Smith

    Also tuning guide for sights and strings would be great. I already emailed you about this, but stalking techniques and keeping quiet so you can get within shooting distance on an animal I think would be helpful for everyone.

  • http://deerlab.com/ DeerLab

    Love where you are going with this Mark. This should be very interesting. Just reading this made me realize how little I do know. One items that stands out is the type of equipment needed for doing some of the tuning/work on the bow. Other questions or topics: differences in strings, proper form and technique, what determines the proper arrow weight, differences in various vanes and materials (straight, right offset, right helical, feathers, etc.), lightweight vs heavier arrows, etc.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll definitely be covering some of the tools/equipment that enable you to work on your bow at home. I’ve got your other ideas down as well. Thanks!

  • Gareth

    It would be great to get some tips on arrow length. I tend to shoot longer arrows hoping for a more solid hit, but some seem to suggest it could effect accuracy (which I haven’t noticed). How should you decide on arrow shaft length, and what are the factors involved?

    • SoleAdventure

      Good idea, Gareth. I’m sure that a good number of bowhunters give little thought to their arrow length, other cutting it near their draw length.

  • Dusty Alexander

    In depth discussion of arrow setup would be sweet! Not necessarily the which-shaft-should-I-shoot discussion, but perhaps talk about the setup options that come after that…
    Such as, fletching: 3 or 4? straight, offset, or helical?
    Broadhead: weight? timing? 3 or 4 blade? (not sure if you want to get into the mechanical vs fixed debate, this can be pretty polarizing and could be a totally separate post, but I guess that could be true of all of these, haha)
    Wraps: yea or nay? what’s the point? how it may affect flight?
    Etc, etc… :)

    • Nathan Smith

      I really like this. Choosing arrows I think is something that some know, but going through and showing pros and cons to each would help when someone might want to switch up the arrows or tips they shoot.

    • Allan K.

      Good points, but getting into the basics arrow, (weight vs your set up), could be a decent topic. I know the debates over heavy vs light arrows goes on and on and on…… usually with discussions around speed and kinetic energy. However, IMHO factoring in momentum is just as important if not more than kinetic energy.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Dusty! Building arrows is part science, part art. I’ll certainly try to touch on many of the factors you mentioned.

  • Timothy Lewis

    I would like to read more about small game archery hunting that can be used to hone your skills. And anything that can simulate at least an ounce of the rush that comes over you when you see that monster whitetail/elk/bear. I, personally harvested my first buck ever this season and did so with my rifle. Thinking back I cannot imagine being able to have the steadiness to take a clean shot on a whitetail after feeling that. Harnessing that excitement is one of hunting’s greatest challenges for a beginner.

    • SoleAdventure

      Good idea, Timothy. Thanks! Shooting under the pressure of competition can also give you the mental edge in hunting situations.

  • http://www.freshtraxoutdoors.com/ Tom Ryle

    Good idea, Mark. One area of significant advancement and confusion for many archers is the topic of bowstrings and cables. I’d bet they are the main reason most guys won’t work on their own bows, and that is understandable. With the advancement of string materials and custom options offered by a growing number of specialty string & buss cable builders, it only compounds matters. And speaking of compounds, let’s not forget that there are choices to be made for the traditional archer as well. It would be great to get a current rundown of the different string materials, their properties related to bowhunting, compounds vs. traditional bows, as well as some technical details, such as the difference between string “stretch” and “creep”, for example. These terms are confusing to most folks but it’s important to understand the difference. String maintenance, when to replace, etc. should also be included. Get busy ;-)

    • SoleAdventure

      Busy indeed! Thanks for the ideas, Tom!

  • Fshrmon

    As a rookie bowhunter, I would like to also learn as much as possible with the hopes to make each year better than before. With that said, specific topics that would interest me are: Pin/site adjustments (how do I know when the pin needs to adjust versus the archer), an understanding of grain weight of tips, to arrow shaft weight and how it all ties into kinetic energy to stop big game. I think FPS while partially important I would think that the kinetic energy to stop and drop the animal is more important and ethical, but maybe I’m wrong. I guess this is really about aspects of bow tuning. Basic bow maintenance would be a help to. I wax my string after I shooot it and I make sure all my bolts are tight, but what else do I need to or should do to keep my bow in its top performing shape? I could go on here, but you get the gist, I’ve got more questions than answers so i’m really looking forward to Sole Adventure in 2014.

  • Brett Bumgarner

    The actual release process from the nock leaving the string to the point it passes through the rest and how grip and trigger punching can affect this crucial few milliseconds. Also cover the IBO speed for bows. I know tons of people who get a bow thinking it will shoot at 320-340 fps. Im going to need all the help I can get when Al and I head to Colorado next year.

    • SoleAdventure

      Good stuff, Brett! You’re right – so much happens in the release and the split second that an arrow is leaving the bow.

  • James Wyatt

    Mark – I’d be interested in discussing home bow tuning. Required equipment, things an archer can take care of it home vs a pro shop. For example, cable adjustments, peep install, d loop install, etc. Checking your paper tune at home (the only thing I actually do myself right now), broadhead tuning. Resetting your bow back to factory specs would be a great topic, especially after string stretch, etc. I’d like to get a bow press and become more self sufficient at so me of this stuff that’s easy, you just got to start somewhere. Lastly – field repair for compound bows would be awesome.

    There’s always Internet forums to search for a lot of this stuff, but your blog would be an even more valuable reference for archers looking to become more knowledgable with regards to their equipment.

    I’ve been reading a lot of form articles lately and looking critically and pics of myself shooting – discussions breaking this down into manageable pieces people can work on improving with would be great for someone just getting into this sport.

    Looking forward to what you decide on.

    • Nathan Smith

      Ya, that is what I was trying to get at, but you explained it so well. These would be great tips and finding it on a site with someone that writes like Mark would be great!

    • SoleAdventure

      Absolutely, James. I’ve been working on setting up all of the tools I need, and I’ll be sure to share what I find. We will be learning some of these things together.

  • Kevin

    I am excited to see where this goes. You seem to have a true and yes, “irregular passion” for archery. I would love to learn along side you.

    I second and third James’ post on tuning. I think it is an important and often over looked topic in archery.

    It is more rewarding to fix and perfect something yourself. Thank you for sharing your passion with us.

    • SoleAdventure

      You bet, Kevin. “Home tuning” is one of the main topics that I want to cover.

  • aaughenbaugh

    Mark,

    The most important one thing I found that makes me a better shooter is very basic, practice and more practice. I found shooting daily at unknown distances and regular time at the 3-d range is the best way to improve my shooting. For me I would shoot every day at lunch for less than a half hour, walking back from the target, stopping at random distances, turn and shoot. What practice routine do you use?

  • wolverine

    mark… you are a good writer. you provoke thought and write with honesty, self reflection and integrity. refreshing!

    • SoleAdventure

      I really appreciate that. I’ve never been, nor had aspirations to be, a “writer” – but I’ve grown to love it.

  • Pat Powell

    Hey Mark, As someone who has been shooting for only one year I would like to learn more this year about my arrows and arrow building with the goal of building an efficient 3D and hunting arrow. I think topics could be spine, length as it impacts spine, archers paradox, vane set up, nocks, weight, FOC as it impacts flight in the short and long range. Great site looking forward to next year.

    • SoleAdventure

      Absolutely, Pat. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Nick Demarais

    How about the minimum amount of tools and extras to bring along on a backpacking hunt to fix a broken string, d-loop, and anything else that you think might break. Tips for fixing broken parts in the field. As you know weight is key in the mountains and I’d hate to have to waste a day hiking back to the truck. This hasn’t happened yet but I’m still pretty green when it comes to chasing wapiti

    • SoleAdventure

      Absolutely, Nick. Thanks for your feedback!

  • RangersPath

    Hey Mark,
    Awesome idea for 2014. Several guys touch on topics here I would love to hear more about. Momentum vs KE, FOC and it’s importance, home tuning and set up (what exactly is a draw board and how do you use it?!???), all very great questions.
    I would also love to see your ideas on a “first aid” field kit for your bow. What would be in it? What string material for d-loops? Which material for serving repair or tieing back in a peep or nick set? So much is involve on just the proper string material and how much of each to carry.
    I would also love to see and hear how shooting tournaments translates to not only being better shooter, but a better bowhunter
    Very excitied about your plans for 2014 and happy to see someone else is in the same place as me. I have been listening to podcasts, reading, and studying just trying to learn more and become a better shooter. Can’t wait to see where You take SA with this!!

    • SoleAdventure

      You bet. I’m learning right along with you.

  • stew

    Wow, love the blog, wish I had found it before my Colorado trip this past September. I will echo the sentiments of many of the other posters here; an in depth discussion on arrow tuning would be greatly appreciated. Other than moving my rest in or out, I’m completely dependent on my local shop when it comes to working the kinks out of my broadheads each year.

    • SoleAdventure

      Will do, Stew. Broadhead tuning can be tricky. I’ve found that selecting the right shafts, and properly building them is half the battle. I’ll try to share all of the process that I go through.

  • Patch

    How about the ins and outs of getting your kids into shooting as well as getting them into bow hunting. How to peak their interest, as well as how to push but not to hard, or how to make it fun…

  • Mike Lindgens

    I am a beginner hunter and just had my first deer hunting experience this past weekend in my home state of Oklahoma.  Although, it was unsuccessful I still had a blast! I also learned the important rookie lesson that whenever you think you hear a monster buck heading your way, it is almost always a squirrel. How such a small critter can create such a racket is incredible!  As a beginner, I have yet to invest in a lot of gear and only possess the basics, then borrow what I can.  The biggest concern I had was how to range out a target while in the field, when everything feels different from the range.  I was more nervous about that monster buck (squirrel) coming in and not being confident in the distance than anything else.  I would really like to know if there are some tips or strategies to use in the field that would help identify the proper distance to place that perfect shot?

    • SoleAdventure

      Those pesky squirrels! I’ve become a better interpreter of deer vs. squirrel noise, but those rodents still fool me every once in a while. It can be tough to judge yardage in the field, Mike. As you mentioned, everything looks different when you’re hunting – especially if you haven’t shot with that type of vegetation/cover or from the elevated positions. The biggest aid for judging distance is using a laser range-finder to make the call for you. I put off purchasing one for the first couple of years that I bowhunted, and then I bought a used model from a friend and it has become a great asset for me. Secondly, I would try to attend 3D tournaments if you have some in your area. These shooting scenarios will help you judge distance in real-life terrain, and on animal-shaped targets. Finally, do “random practice”… Start at your target, turn from it, walk away (without paying attention to distance/direction), and then turn, face, judge, and shoot.

  • Scott Larimore

    How about a discussion on shooting with farsightedness. I have a big problem with my pins being blurry. It’s very difficult to place my pin exactly where I want it when it’s all blurred. As the distance increases the problem gets worse. Also, I like to practice a longer distances than my max hunting distance. When shooting at long distance (+40yards) the pin (.019″) covers the spot I want to hit. I have done some experimenting with aiming off the side or top of the pin, instead of hoovering over the spot I want to hit. Is there any information on how to perfect this technique? Thanks, Scott