Five Questions to Ask When Shopping for Sportswear and Outdoor Apparel

            Christine Cunningham - ProStaff EvoOutdoors   The first time I heard the phrase, “Put your hood up or you’re going to get wet,” I realized that I had never used a hood in my life. The borrowed rain gear I wore on my first duck hunt was two sizes too large and associated with the nearby salmon fishery. I should have known that a trip requiring waterproof chest waders was not just an eccentric fashion choice. Looking back, I realize that was the day I stopped seeking comfort and instead sought adventure.

Having the best sportswear extends my time outdoors and never gets in the way. The best clothing products share qualities of design and purpose. Choosing the best products gives me the best chance at success and, in some cases, can be life-saving. Enduring a crisis caused by making critical mistakes in gear or clothing make for the end to the adventure too often mistaken for adventure itself. Although the skill level of many hunters does not demand the precision apparel offered by most sportswear today, every skill level can use an edge.

             Here are the five questions I ask when making a decision to purchase outdoor apparel:

What is the Purpose? In other words, what do I need this product to do? Is this outer jacket needed for cold wet, or cold dry, weather? Do the base and mid-layers need to pull double duty as outer layers; is a scent proof or camouflage fabric necessary? Is the range of movement required possible in this particular shirt, vest, jacket, boot, or wader; does it allow for shooting, hiking, rock climbing, or traversing water? Is there a requirement for the item to be packed, washed, or worn over long periods; is it packable, washable, or fast-drying? What kind of pockets, zippers, snaps, or magnetic clasps does it have; does it need to be quiet, easily removed, or able to store other items?

Can it be Used for More than One Purpose? This is the “Can this item become my little black dress of the outdoors” question. It takes a long time to acquire the basic gear for every scenario, but versatile products save money and exemplify the practicality of the true outdoorsman. This is one of the reasons so much of my fishing gear is camouflage. Fishing doesn’t require camo, but if the same outer jacket, waders, hats, and gloves work for fishing or target shooting as hunting, I’m saving money and room in my closet. Fly-fishing is often thought of as requiring very specific products; however, I’ll never forget a girlfriend who discovered how much could be stored in a fly-fishing vest. She nearly gave up carrying a purse!

How will it be used? The best products are field-tested and proven. But, they are only as good as the weakest zipper or seam. Knowing how I will use an item helps me to determine what is likely to fail so I consider all potential weak points. Are the zippers waterproof or reinforced? Is there a repair kit or extra parts? Is there any part that will chafe, itch, or wear out? If I can try something on, I perform a re-enactment from the field: shooting postures, hands above head, bending down, jumping, waxon, waxoff, and so forth. I do this in a dressing room, if possible.

Does it go above and beyond? Every purchase supports the manufacturer and retailer behind it. Companies that give back to the hunting traditions, support conservation, or represent what is best in the outdoors make purchases pull double duty. I like to support outfitters whose products are made in the U.S.A., who offer smart choices for women, and who are responsible for the environment.

and finally…

Do I Already Have it? One of the most difficult things about the sporting life is storage and inventory of all of the items required for particular pursuits. There are totes and closets and storage sheds full of outdoor products. Because there are always innovations in gear, old gear can quickly become forgotten. There may be a way to avoid the purchase of things that I already own. There may be an app or a simple process I just haven’t learned. If I ever get so organized that I can find everything I own, it just might be the day stop seeking adventure. So for now, I’m okay with having an extra jacket or two to spare a new hunter who might want to come along for the first time and learn why good gear is important.

Christine Cunningham - ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Author: Christine Cunningham – ProStaff EvoOutdoors 

Texas Disabled Youth Hunt

Texas Youth DIsabled Hunters
The North Texas Disabled Youth Hunt is put on through the combined efforts of several area ranches that are located in northwest Texas and members of the North Texas Sportsman’s Consortium as well as a non profit 501 c3 organization, Dream Catcher Outdoor Adventures.  2012 was the first year this hunt was conducted and it was viewed as a resounding success by all.  The children had a wonderful time participating in a wide variety of activities and most were successful in harvesting deer.
Ranches generally in the Eastland County area offer opportunities to harvest excess does and management bucks.  These ranches typically are highly managed for quality and quantity, and offer top notch hunting conditions.  These young hunters have an excellent opportunity to see lots of wildlife and harvest a deer.
Youth learning about firearm safetyAmong the various activities the children participated in were a hunter safety course including firearm handling, loading, and firing.  A guide was assigned to each child and they were able to spend time before hunting so they could not only bond, but the guide was able to evaluate the hunter’s capabilities and skill level.  Besides the deer hunt itself, there was a trip to a local fire station for a tour through the facility which included discussion with fire station personnel about fire safety and a ride in a fire truck.  Ready for the FIretruck RideMeals (three/day) were a focal point. Not only were they top shelf cuisine, but they allowed everyone to hear the stories of each other’s outings and events.  Stories of successes and failures were told and enjoyed by all.  The last evening was a blow out bash with a campfire, barbeque, guitar picking and singing, and a ride up in the dark by an assembly of cowboys mounted on horseback ready and willing to take anyone on a ride that was ready, willing, and able.  Youth Hunters meeting the cowboysA hayride to and from the barbeque was enjoyed as well!!
The event ran from noon Friday,  to departure after hunting on Monday morning.  It was open not only to the children, but their parents/guardians were encouraged and welcome to join as well.  Attendees were provided lodging in a local hotel in Eastland, Texas.
The 2013 North Texas Disabled Youth Hunt promises to be even better than our maiden voyage last year.  Our goal is to learn from prior year’s experiences and to focus on bringing  joy into these kids hearts through a wonderful outdoor experience.  We want to grow the event without sacrificing quality for numbers. Each year will be a learning experience and the following year will benefit from what knowledge we have gained.  If we can provide a quality time for these youth, and grow the numbers so that more can participate, that will be the best of all worlds.
 Dream Catchers Youth Event Harvest
If you would like to contribute and help us make this year as successful as the LAST!!!!
“Keep your blades sharp, and your powder dry”
David Frisbie

Straight Shooting

Sarah Fromenthal EvoOutdoors ProStaffWith archery season fast approaching,  I’m sure everyone has knocked the dust off the bow from last season and begun practicing, but is your technique as nice as you would like? Whether you are a new shooter using a second hand bow or a veteran shooter that’s shooting “old faithful”, there is always a few things to improve upon every season.  Insuring proper draw length, shooting form, draw weight, and/or grip on the bow play vital roles in these pre-season preparations.

Draw Length and Proper Shooting Form

Draw length by definition is the measure from the knock point  to the backside of the bow (side facing away from the shooter) at full draw. It is an integral part to ensuring a bow “fits” the shooter properly especially if you are shooting a bow that was given to you second hand or buying a new one.  Improper draw length can cause issue with proper form and accuracy.

 

 

Proper Form: body, in straight line with the target, feet shoulder width apart, vertebrae straight up and down, bow arm slightly bent

Tell Tale signs of improper draw length:

Too long: Leaning back when at full draw, anchor point set too far back, and/or eye too close to peep (too large of field of view).  Another tell tale sign is the bow arm being completely straight to compensate for the extra inches of length and possibly pulling the bow arm to the left (right for lefties), which could cause you to shoot off of your mark and possibly slap your arm with the string upon release.  Getting an arm guard is not the fix for this… its a draw length issue (TRUST ME I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE!)

Leaning too far back off of center

Leaning too far back off of center

Bow arm totally straight

Bow arm totally straight

Too Short: Bow arm too bent, anchor point set too far forward, and/or eye far from peep (decreased field of view).  Being “jammed up” to fit into the shorter draw length can pull the bow arm to the right (left for lefties) in attempt to shorten the draw, once again causing you to be off center with your shots.

Draw length can be easily measured by standing with both arms outstretched to the side and measuring from finger tip to finger tip. This will get you a good starting point from which you can fine tune.

DRAW LENGTH =”WINGSPAN”÷ 2.5

 (Remember to keep in mind that using a loop and some releases adds additional length to your draw.)

 

Draw Weight

Many bow shooters are “over-bowed” and do not realize it. NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO PULL BACK 70+ POUNDS. The poundage you are pulling back should allow you to draw the bow straight back from any position and shoot numerous rounds without fatigue or soreness. Too often hunters are seen having to the raise their bow up to draw back because it helps them gain more leverage (not to mention how impractical all the excess movement is when you have the trophy of a life time only yards away).  This is a sure sign the draw weight is too high and should be knocked down to a more comfortable poundage.

Proper Drawback

Improper Drawback

 

Also, its important to check with state rules and regulations for minimum draw requirements. For example, Louisiana requires a bow to have a draw weight of at least thirty pounds to hunt whitetail, but most states require a forty pound draw weight. This may not seem like much to an experienced archer, but for a woman or youth archer this may take some work to build up to.  Building up poundage on a bow should be done gradually and not increasing to the next poundage until you can shoot your current poundage with ease.  The muscles used to draw back your bow are rarely strenuously worked otherwise, so the best way to build them is to practice regularly.

 Grip

Although most archers will swear by their grip technique, proper grip can make the world of difference in tightening your groups. The goal is to stabilize the bow during release without torquing it in reaction to the shot or slight hand movements.

Ideal Grip

Ideal Grip

Grip too tight aka "Death Grip"

Grip too tight aka “Death Grip”

Grip Too Loose aka "Spirit Fingers"

Grip Too Loose aka “Spirit Fingers”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ideal Grip: The basic principle it to have your thumb at a “two o’clock” position from the grip and turn the fingers slightly upward causing the grip to fall right into the pocket along side of the thumb. Closing your hand and placing the finger tips lightly on the grip allows to stabilize the bow without causing it to torque.

Too Tight (aka “Death Grip”): Although stabilizing the bow, this grip can cause the shooter to torque the bow and any slight movement of the hand will cause you to move the entire bow.

Too Loose (aka “Spirit Fingers”): With the fingers outstretched, the bow has too much back and forth freedom.  Also as an instinctive reaction, the hand may close slightly with the shot causing the muscles to move in the palm of the hand which in turn can move the bow.

 

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, and Shoot Some More

  • Practice makes perfect and forms muscle memory to where shooting techniques become instinctive instead of a list of information to remember.
  • Be sure to anchor in the same spot every time.  Changing up your anchor point will cause inaccuracy and larger groups.
  • Practice in the hunting gear that you just bought from EvoOutdoors and plan on hunting in to find out how extra layers, headwear, gloves, face mask, badlands pack etc., affect your grip, anchor point, and maneuverability.
  • Practice shooting from the location/position you are likely to shoot from in the field whether its from a elevated platform (safety harness please!), ground blind, uphill, downhill, sitting, standing, kneeling, etc. Also be sure to practice in different climates and lighting to be ready for any situation that can be presented.
  • Extend your practice yardage out as far as you can.  Being accurate at further distances will make close shots seem like nothing (REMEMBER: Just because you can shoot a target at a certain yardage does not mean you should shoot animals at that distance!)
  • Make sure your bow is properly tuned.  All the practice in the world can not help you improve your groups if your bow is out of tune.  It also important  to know your bow. Educate yourself on every part, its purpose, and how it works.  By understanding this, you will be more capable of troubleshooting your problems on your own during practice or on that trophy hunt.  Do not be afraid to ask your bow shop technician questions about how and why.

bow parts

Sarah Fromenthal

ProStaff EvoOutdoors

Photo Credits:  to my amazing Nanny  Jo Ann LeBoeuf .

Be sure to check out her stunning work at www.joannleboeuf.com or her Facebook Page.