Shooting for the Shot: Are you ready for the challenge?

10665093_10202096370125776_735782475963514208_n

Tracy Harden, co-owner at EvoOutdoors recently shared how she is preparing for her backcountry trip to Idaho to bow hunt elk.

“Each year I try to challenge myself to be more physically and mentally fit for the backcountry. As we prepare for our first trip to Idaho in September and my first chance at a bull, I want to prepare myself as much as I can. So in that moment… no questions asked, I am ready.” -Tracy Harden

By developing and using this training checklist Tracy practices different shot distances, stances and situations to elevate her archery skills. Designed so that the archer can pull back their bow with confidence for any shot. We challenge YOU to use her checklist to practice your archery skills.

The idea is to shoot each distance three times. Then measure the distance between the farthest apart arrows. The goal is to decrease the diameter between arrows as your practice. Of course, safety is always first. Feel free to alter the challenge as needed based on your comfort and ability however, challenge yourself!

Check the EvoOutdoors Facebook, Instagram & Twitter pages for weekly shot challenges during the month of June.

Share your results with us on social media: #ShootingForTheShot #EvoOutdoors #PracticeWithPurpose

Are you ready for the challenge?

Click the link below to take the challenge

Shooting for the Shot

1474629_10201851668448387_1680231787071911313_n

Dedication, Passion & Understanding: Passing on the outdoor tradition

11164156_10204022900597409_752139943_nOne of the greatest feelings in the world is to give back. To teach someone something that puts a smile on their face. Throughout my life I’ve been lucky enough to have a dad who has spent every waking second with me trying to better me not only in the woods but as an all around person.  That is why I am where I am today. With all the knowledge my dad has given me I have been able to give back to many people.

11212340_10204110082936913_610187723_n

Ryan and his father

11121269_10204022899957393_536069988_nGrowing up I was given my first bow at age 4. Since then a bow has never left my hand- day in and day out I shoot. It’s part of who I am. Many joke around saying I came out of the womb with one. Through my years with a bow I have been able to meet some of the best coaches around and they spent a lot of time with me.  These coaches took me to tournaments to see how far I could go. I took the opportunity and ran with it. First starting off in paper tournaments and winning them, then stepping it up to 3D competitions. I even won my division.

At age 14 I was able to hunt for the first time. My dad would put up a stand for me and one for him 50 yards away so he could watch me and make sure everything was ok. My first year hunting I shot my first buck. I was on cloud 9. Three years later I asked my dad why he had not shot a deer since I started hunting. He told me he enjoyed sitting in the stand and watching me, teaching me things as I grew up in the woods. From that moment I realized it’s better to give back in the outdoors rather than to keep all the knowledge you have to yourself.

Since then I have been a coach for the Junior Olympic Archery Development league through the West Falls Conservation Society, coaching kids from age 6-18 every Tuesday. At the league we have a wide variety of youth- from kids who have never seen a bow before to kids who are getting invitations from the Junior Olympic Dream team. Every single kid leaves that night with a smile, and that’s what keeps me coming back every Tuesday. Getting kids involved not only in hunting but in shooting is important. Just because you shoot doesn’t mean you have to kill something.  The trick with teaching anyone, in particular children, is to be patient and to remember each kid is different- attention span, drive and discipline. You can’t force a kid to shoot. If he/she doesn’t want to, don’t make them. Let the child choose how much they want to shoot and when they want to shoot. Tuesday nights are one of my favorite nights because it feels great to give back and install the lessons my dad taught in me.

11180028_10204022897957343_1526074093_n

When it comes to hunting this is where my passion really stands out. Any chance I can to introduce someone into the outdoors and hunting I do. I am prideful that everyone calls to ask if I can take them or a child out and introduce them into the outdoors. I feel I have a way with understanding people and being able to introduce them into what I love doing. I have been lucky over the years to be able to be very successful on hunts for someone’s first time deer, turkey or waterfowl.  One of the main reasons I have been successful is because I spend every second I can to scout. I want to make sure that we at least see something during the hunt. To get others involved in hunting, you have to make the hunt exciting in order to keep their attention span focused. My main goal is to keep them interested in wanting to go back into the outdoors. The reactions are priceless and that is what makes the sleepless nights and the long hours scouting all worth it.

When you get a chance to introduce someone into hunting, fishing or shooting make sure you do it no matter the gender or age. They are going to be the reason these traditions live on.

-Ryan Van Lew, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

11041206_10204086245620995_6846403877079607204_n

Bow Shooting Tips

Bow Shooting Tips written by Andrea Haas was originally published via The Huntress View



With more & more people getting involved in archery & bow hunting, I feel I should share a few basic, but important, archery tips that help me when shooting my bow.

-The number one, most important thing to me is that you shoot the exact same way each time. Form & consistency is everything so make sure you are anchoring the same way each time. I have a kisser on my bow that really helps find my anchor point quicker each time.

-Loosen up your grip. Gripping the bow too tightly can cause you to torque the bow left or right & make your shooting off.

-Shooting at smaller dots on your targets help improve your accuracy & will help you shoot tighter groups. If you always shoot at the biggest dot on the target & can cause you to get a little sloppy. I like the Mckenzie Shot Blocker.

-For the women bow hunters: Here’s a tip to see if you are pulling back too much weight with your bow: Get your bow & sit down in a chair. Pull your feet up so they aren’t touching the ground & pull your bow back. If you can’t get it back, or are struggling too much, you are pulling too much weight. I only shoot about 45 pounds, and that’s really all you need.

Total Archery Challenge: The ultimate 3D trial

IMG_20150301_143053

When I first saw mountain goats effortlessly move about a treacherous rocky ridge along the Snake River on the Oregon/Idaho border I dreamt of what it would be like to hunt them with my bow. How exhausting it would be to hike miles in search of the ghost-like creatures and what kind of impossibly lucky shot you’d have to have the opportunity to get.  For a moment I got to imagine that I was there on that ridge at the Total Archery Challenge event in San Antonio, Texas. On a steep muddy incline in the south Texas hill country I drew my bow at 35 yards. Focused. I shot my arrow across the deep ravine and made contact with my target, even if he was only made of foam.

If you’ve never heard of Total Archery Challenge (T.A.C.) you’re about to wonder why. Total Archery Challenge is one of the biggest and best 3D archery shooting events in the United States. The T.A.C. crew is selective about where each event is held in hopes to focus on family friendly locations across the nation where archers of all skill levels can practice their craft.

I had become a fan of 3D archery shooting when I joined a small league in my home state of Oregon. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas last year that I heard about Total Archery Challenge through none other than a conversation about my new dentist (a bow hunter). I immediately contacted the T.A.C. coordinators and volunteered my time for the event at Natural Bridge Caverns in February 2015.  At the event I expanded my knowledge of the benefits of 3D archery from a volunteer and a participant’s perspective. In this article I will discuss and elaborate on my experience.

1. Practice With Purpose

10378130_10203638026498627_475758882678177341_n

Adam Parma. EvoOutdoors ASAT hat, EvoOutdoors jersey tshirt

As an outdoorswoman and bow hunter there is much to be said about practicing your craft. Whether you’re a beginner or pro athlete, practice leads to confidence in the field.  Confidence should lead to an improved shot placement when bow hunting wild game. In general, a swift ethical shot is the number one goal when I am hunting. While shooting at Total Archery Challenge I was able to envision bow hunting situations such as the mountain goat on the ridge, an alligator on a riverbank, a strutting turkey in a clearing and much more.

If you read our previous blog written by Stephen Casey, you will know the many benefits as a bow hunter to practicing shooting at different distances and angles. Stephen Casey writes:

I always find it shocking how much can change out on the 3D range when shooting 40 yards downhill as opposed to horizontal… I like to practice with the target at varying inclines and declines, at uneven yardages, and from a kneeling, sitting, or other position(s). A great 3D range with a course that enables this kind of shooting is a great place…I like to consistently push myself to be accurate and consistent at farther distances, so that 40 or 50 yards feels like a breeze.

Total Archery Challenge really emphasized this model. Various courses offered different types of angles, distances and targets.

IMG_20150301_101006-1

EvoOutdoors ASAT hat, EvoOutdoors Women’s Fitted Tee

Intimidated? Don’t be.

One of the best rules about Total Archery Challenge is that participants are allowed to move closer to the target. This rule gives shooters of all skill levels the opportunity to practice what they are comfortable with.

As the name suggests the event was challenging, in more ways than one. I will admit the challenges did toy with my emotions. What I didn’t expect to be an added challenge was the weather. It was an unimaginably cold weekend in South Texas and many elements were against us- wind, rain, freezing temperatures. I watched many Texans struggle against Mother Nature but alas, it was just another obstacle to tackle…and very good practice for hunting in the cold weather.

It must be emphasized  that you don’t have to be a bow hunter to enjoy an event like Total Archery Challenge. In general, any 3D archery event will challenge you and force you to shoot fun, inventive shots which will ultimately help you master your craft.

IMG_8019

NO hunt’N, NO Fish’N, NO Nuth’N

IMG_20150326_083615

Members of a local youth archery club at the “warm-up” course

2. Entertainment

Participating in a Total Archery Challenge event might help you develop your bow hunting skills however; the event’s number one goal is to provide a fun and entertaining shoot for all. That being said, not all shots set up would be considered ethical and/or realistic while hunting (Unless you like to think that one day you’ll be taking on zombies hiding in outhouses and hunting blinds).

In addition to several different courses the event boasted a 3D pop up shoot controlled by computers. Described by the event’s coordinators as the archer’s “whack-a-mole” a handful of 3D targets raced across the lawn and popped up without warning. This was an extremely entertaining course to watch and very popular amongst those brave enough to tackle the challenge.

Even more entertaining, the event offered some extreme shots for prizes. By extreme I mean shooting a bulls-eye at an 3D elk target at over 150 yards to be entered into a drawing to win a new truck. Every time an archer would commit to take the challenge a crowd would gather to encourage the shooter. Instant comradery was formed.

My favorite entertainment at the event was a demonstration by local mounted archery rider Serena Lynn of S.T.A.R. (South Texas Archery Riders). The demonstration was a most impressive display of concentration as both rider and horse became one. Serena cantered and galloped across the open field while shooting her recurve bow with ease. Afterwards, Serena invited spectators to come forward with questions and pet her mare, affectionately named “Moonshine.” Serena states that the sport is “empowering and addicting” and hopes to inspire others to get involved. Serena is also confirmed to attend next year’s Total Archery Challenge in Texas. For more information on Serena and S.T.A.R. visit www.southtexasarcheryriders.com

10997808_1092836954075666_5153373811131670020_n

Serena Lynn of STAR (South Texas Archery Riders)

 

3. Comradery  

IMG_20150301_154144

Locals Course: Adam Parma, Kristin Parma, Morgan Garcia

 

Volunteering for the Total Archery Challenge event my friend Morgan (Armed Rogue) and I were given the task of overseeing the warm up course. During our long day spent at the course I spoke with many archers of all backgrounds and ages. I witnessed the gathering of so many types of archery enthusiasts as well as their family and friends who attended the event to cheer them on. In the hundreds of people I laid eyes on at the event not once did I see any severe negativity, aside from cursing the weather.

Adam & I enjoyed getting to shoot with our friends. In addition, we ventured on to another course and made friends a long the way. There was so much comradery between strangers, as well as guidance and direction. Each person wanted to see the other succeed. Inspiring to me was a 16 year old girl named Gabby whom we met. This sharp shooting girl had no fear of any target situation. If she missed the target she laughed, nocked another arrow and tried again. I asked her father how long Gabby had been shooting and he replied, “1…2…about 2 months now.” I couldn’t believe it! It was fun to be inspired by those around me and to be a part of such a positive atmosphere.

Noteworthy, I witnessed the constant dedication of the event’s staff. Setting up and running a large event smoothly is taxing and tough. As volunteers and as participants we were treated with utmost care, concern and hospitality. A true testament to their love of archery and all that comes along with it.

 4. Giving Back: The next generation

20150301_105733

Big kids can shoot the Kid’s Course too!

As outdoorsmen and women we know the value of passing on our passions to the next generation. Total Archery Challenge is a family friendly event and the staff encourage parents to bring their children. The warm up course as well as the kids course offered a fun challenge for kids of all ages. While volunteering, my husband Adam was stationed at the Kid’s Course. Adam reported that he enjoyed seeing kids with all the right equipment and more to get them started in archery. In the end, this is what it’s all about! Inspiring and giving back to the community and the next generation.

Don’t have a bow?

Total Archery Challenge has you covered. You can rent all the equipment you need to participate! No matter your experience with archery I encourage you to join a 3D league or find an archery shoot near you. Contact your local archery shop or to find the nearest Total Archery Challenge near you visit www.totalarcherychallenge.com You won’t regret it!

Thank you to EvoOutdoors for your support at this event. Thank you Total Archery Challenge, especially Monica DeGray for your kindness and hospitality.

Happy shooting!

 Kristin Brooke Parma

EvoOutdoors Media Coordinator

11009383_10203638027138643_3693702323891212357_n

See you next year Total Archery Challenge!

Archery Practice and Setup Tips for the Amateur Bowhunter – By Stephen Casey

Growing up in Alaska, I was surrounded by rifle and shotgun hunters. We lived an almost completely subsistence lifestyle, fishing the rivers and ocean, and harvesting big game every season. My passion for big game hunting started to become more of an obsession in my teen years, but it wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I borrowed an old Martin Phantom compound from a good friend and began to practice. I started out shooting in my backyard, losing a few arrows in the process (they are definitely be in someone else’s backyard!) with a goal of harvesting a Northern California Columbia Blacktail with a bow. Four years later, I now shoot a 2014 Hoyt Faktor Turbo and would confidently shoot just about any big game I can get in range of with my bow, rather than a rifle! I wanted to take a moment to share a few tips I’ve learned or discovered that have helped me to hone my craft and skills along the way. I hope these benefit you, and please feel free to reach out to me on any @CaseyWildAdventures social media with any questions you might have!

 

  1. Practice MORE than you think you need to!

 

I have friends or acquaintances who may or may not even shoot one arrow before heading out during hunting season. Some get away with it. Most don’t! If you want to be successful, confident, know your limits, know what you can hit, and what you can’t….you must practice. As a riflehunter, I took a lot of big game animals without too much practice and with single-shot kills. I knew I could shoot and I knew my gun, so I’d check that it was sighted-in, and then go hunting. Bowhunting is different. Every factor that goes into a clean and ethical harvest or successful shot on the range is amplified by at least 10 when you pick up a bow. It is because of this amplification that I encourage you to practice more than you think you need to, and personally, I honestly find it to be such an enjoyable recreation and decompressor! “Practice” makes it sound like a chore, but really it’s such an enjoyable pasttime, and will really prepare you for that big moment!

1507999_827017520655145_8276247532252463335_n

 

  1. Practice at varying angles and shooting positions!

 

I always find it shocking how much can change out on the 3D range when shooting 40 yards downhill as apposed to horizontal. You’re standing with your feet planted firmly about shoulder width apart, stance slightly open. Your dream trophy elk is paused just off your front shoulder – perfect. You bring your bow to face the target, not “drawing up or down” and settle your pin…. You and I both know that there is about a 1 percent chance that you’ll get a shot like that in the field! This is bowhunting, NOT target archery! Like  most backcountry bowhunters, I like to practice with the target at varying inclines and declines, at uneven yardages, and from a kneeling, sitting, or other position. A great 3D range with a course that enables this kind of shooting is a great place to become a member. I’ll also add here that I like to consistently push myself to be accurate and consistent at farther distances, so that 40 or 50 yards feels like a breeze.

 2

 

  1. Get a release with an adjustable trigger.

 

Just like a rifle or handgun, the last thing you need is a sticky trigger. This will dramatically affect your accuracy, especially at farther distances. You should be able to find your aiming sequence, find your target, and squeeze off that almost imperceptible “applied pressure” rather than “pulling” the trigger. Go to a bow shop with your bow and try multiple releases to find this. Personally, I like an “open jaw” hook and light, adjustable trigger with zero travel, and have landed for now on the Spot-Hogg Wiseguy.

10893531_10152616442862253_361618677_n

 

  1. Go to a bow pro shop (like The Bow Rack or other) and get a 30 minute lesson or two.

The best way to break bad shooting habits or form is never to have them in the first place! It’s way easier to learn good form before you trying to figure it out on your own. A good instructor will move your body around, make adjustments to your form, and build your draw/release cycle. Your body and muscles will feel all of the right form and motions, and you’ll develop from there. I’ll also say here that a great way to work on form is to take photos and videos of yourself as you shoot to review later. I like to watch shooters who are at the best in the business, and then compare and make adjustments to my own form. You can’t do this if you can’t watch yourself. I like video because you can actually watch your pre-draw setup, your draw cycle, your release, and your drop-away. These are all crucial parts to consistent shooting and success at the moment of truth on that $5,000.00 hunt!

 

  1. I’m going to combine two tips here on the last one, just to keep it at five 🙂

 

Number one: Every once in awhile, go to the sight-in range where there’s a big target and backdrop. Close your eyes and come to full draw, settling in as if you’re going to release. Now open your eyes and check your form. Most importantly, are you lined up with your peep and sight? This is a huge indicator if something is off and you just always adjust to it because your eyes are open! Did you find your anchor point? You can actually practice releasing a few arrows with your eyes closed, and I recommend it! Just PLEASE be sure you’re in a completely safe environment, at 10-20 yards from a large target with an even larger backdrop!

 

Number two: I discovered that the biggest thing I really needed to work on as I developed with my bow was eliminating hand torque. Hand torque comes from an improper hand positioning or grip and results in two things: the string being off the centerline of the cam and the sight being “off-center”. The result is erratic and inconsistent patterns. You need to be sure your hand is relaxed on the grip and that your hand is positioned so as not to torque your bow one direction or the other. The easiest place to start with this is to “make a stop sign” with your hand.

Picture a police officer directing traffic putting his hand out to say “Stop!” Do this with your hand! Your thumb should be at 1 or 2 o’clock and your fingers should be between 10 and 11 o’clock. I used to do this all the time as my muscles and brain developed ‘memory’. I still occasionally throw my hand out in a stop sign, or picture it in my head as I set up to draw. This is a great place to start with proper bow-hand form.

Secondly, I occasionally glance up at my upper cam to see if my string is tracking on center, or leaning to either side. If you are torqueing your bow to either side, your string will be off-center. This is a great way to do a check while you’re at full draw. If you look closely, you can see in the photo below that my eyes are glancing up at my upper cam 🙂

 

Even though only a small number of the many factors in successful backcountry bowhunting, I hope you’ve enjoyed these few tips! As I mentioned before, you’re welcome to hit me with any questions regarding gear or shooting on Facebook or Instagram – @CaseyWildAdventures.

1

 

Here is a short youtube video to get you pumped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1lbkXc4Vh0&feature=youtu.be

#PracticeWithPurpose – Stephen

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.