Raising An Outdoors Girl

Raising An Outdoors Girl

By: Morgan Garcia

EvoOutdoors Team Member, Armed Rogue

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Total Archery Challenge: 7 months pregnant

I’m about to become a first time parent. I’m having a girl and we couldn’t be more excited.

I have always loved the outdoors. I felt like I was outside all the time when I wasn’t in school. I had this big forest behind the house where I grew up and I’d always take my dog and friends up there and just wander around. In general, I was outside playing all the time. I was constantly riding my bicycle everywhere, too. We also camped quite a bit in the summer months.

However, I never hunted, never fished, was never around guns or archery or knives or any of that sort of stuff. Even though I may not have had those experiences growing up, I adopted them later in life.

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Now that I’m about to have a girl, I want to be able to pass my knowledge onto her and have her be a well-rounded individual with respect for nature and the drive to have experiences outside of technology.

Kids these days, (feel free to imagine me sitting in a rocking chair out on the front porch, shaking my fist at them dang kids to get off my lawn), are spending more time indoors playing with their tablets, smartphones or video games and practically no time outside using their imagination or honing a skill or hobby. I have nothing against technology, I’m pretty addicted to my smartphone sometimes. However, there needs to be a good balance. And it’s up to us as her parents, to teach her that balance.

I want to instill into my child the importance of the outdoors. I want to teach her how to shoot a bow, how to shoot a gun (and in turn, teach her proper gun safety), how to fish, how to hunt, how to find wild edibles, how to purify water, how to make a fire, how to setup your own campsite without a tent, etc.

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I am also eager to teach her how to defend herself. I’d love to get her into MMA or some other form of martial arts so that nobody is ever able to take advantage of her.

I can’t tell you how many times I am told, “Just wait for the baby to come, then you won’t have time to do anything ever again.”

I don’t understand that thought process.

I want my child to be apart of our lives and hobbies, and of course for her to discover her own likes and dislikes. When we go to the shooting range, she’s coming with (don’t worry, we have some sweet eye protection and ear muffs for her)! When we go hunting, she’s coming with. When I go for a walk or run, she’s coming with. When we go camping, she’s coming with. When we go fishing, she’s coming with.

You get the idea.

How did you instill the love of the outdoors in your son or daughter?

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Morgan resides in central Texas where she spends her time either participating in shooting competitions, 3-D archery shoots, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, prepping for disasters and emergencies, training for a 5/10K or just enjoying all that the Texas outdoors has to offer.

Healthy Living: The Effects of Western Hunting on a Southern Girl

In Louisiana most whitetail deer hunting is done on private land. You can ride an ATV up to any spot, throw a lock up in a tree and sit for hours. Do not get me wrong, many south Louisiana hunters put in a great effort working on the land, sometimes walking through waist deep water. Tackling the swamp while being mauled by mosquitoes for hours on end. However, it is very easy to get complacent in ones physical health, clothing/gear choices and still be able to perform the tasks required to hunt down here.

My eyes were opened to a new world of hunting necessities when I set out on a new (to me) adventure of elk hunting in the public hunting land of Colorado. 

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Heading out west, I had no clue what to expect nor had I ever seen mountains before.

I studied articles and videos to prepare myself for what was to come however, nothing prepared me for the way it would change how I thought about myself. The mountains showed me that although I was physically fit enough to be able conquer the hikes we took from the base camp, I was in no way fit enough to accomplish a pack in hike. My dream was to be able to hike in for miles with a heavy pack and sleep in the wilderness away from everything. To hike further and higher everyday than I had on that first trip. I knew doing this would take months of preparation to ensure that I was fit enough to do not only the long hike in but to also recover quickly in preparation for the following days hikes.

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As hunting season in Louisiana wrapped up, I decided to buckle down and start living a healthier life. My first step was to build a raised garden bed in my tiny back yard. Growing up, my parents and grandparents always grew a beautiful garden therefore I knew with the knowledge I had gained from watching them over the years I could grow my own veggies. It was a huge money saver. A few dollars spent on seeds translated into many meals and even some vegetables preserved to be enjoyed all year. As every hunter knows there is a sort of “slump” that sets in after season ends. My garden kept me physically and mentally active.

I quickly found working in the garden to be very therapeutic, rewarding, and a huge confidence booster to see the tiny seed that I planted flourish into a huge plant.

I decided I needed to do more than integrate a few vegetables in my diet so I joined in on an “accountability group” 9D144EC0-0EA2-49BE-8C1A-06003E9DCC9B_zpsdef38gtsthrough work.  This forced me to weigh in weekly. The fact that I was doing it with coworkers forced me to stay focused. I didn’t want a simple diet where I was omitting a certain type of food completely; I wanted a lifestyle change that would change my way of eating forever. I worked on portion control, which I have always struggled with, by weighing and measuring everything until I had a better idea what a serving size actually looked like. In addition, being creative with my wild game, seafood, and fresh vegetables, I recreated my favorite dishes into a new healthier version of its previous self. I used seasoning and spices to give food more flavor so it was more filling. By making these simple changes to my diet, I began seeing a change on the scale.

858DB16B-58B1-4135-AE06-1E2F126229B7_zps9hvnk1qhI quickly realized that in addition to eating correctly, I needed to start a workout regiment for myself to be able to get stronger and gain muscle. I started off slowly by walking around the local university. Slowly it progressed into a walk/run and further distances.  I incorporated various weight lifting workout videos I found online. After I felt that I was strong enough, I decided to start working on building “mountain muscles”. I started off with a fifty pound sack of deer corn in my backpack I planned on using for my Colorado hunt. I walked to the university stadium and did the bleachers, then I walked a lap around the campus. Over time, I slowly added more and more weight until it was time to leave for the hunt.  Not only was this building muscles but it helped me get my pack adjusted correctly with heavy weight. By adding these additional exercises to my daily routine, I was able to drop weight even quicker and I was seeing a big boost in my energy levels.

The next part of my “elk ready” process was to re-access my gear and clothing choices. I knew we would be doing a pack in hike so I worked to find lighter alternatives to the supplies I had and reduced the amount of unnecessary supplies. I planned to bring dehydrated meals, vacuum sealed “harvest kits” containing such items as game bags. I planned out how to stuff all of these items into my pack. I weighed each item and then the pack as a whole to be sure that I could easily carry everything I needed. When I went to access my new choices of clothing, I tried to pinpoint problems I saw in my previous gear and worked along with EvoOutdoors CamoConcierge service to find products that would best solve these problems.

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aProblem 1: Stretch and maneuverability in durable pants. I quickly realized that my previous clothing was actually working against me while hiking because of its lack of stretch, especially in the pants. I decided to get a pair of the FirstLite Kanab 2.0 pants and the Corrugate Guide pants. Both offered a unique fit that was looser in the hips and thighs but more fitted in the lower half. This fit allowed for full range of motion. Both have high waisted fits and can be worn with suspenders, preventing them from riding down over time with a heavy pack and impeding maneuverability.  The Kanab 2.0 pants are made of ultra light merino wool with body stretch 1441587702159-1927885061nylon and also feature a rip stop pattern making them perfectly silent for a spot and stalk while being durable. The Corrugate Guide pants are made of a lightweight, durable, breathable nylon fabric that makes them nearly bombproof against all but the most extreme weather. While they aren’t as silent as the Kanab’s, they truly proved themselves to me in the rain we endured on an almost daily basis while in the Colorado mountains.  Not only were they somewhat water resistant, but when it came to getting drenched in the downpours, they dried very quickly making it possible to wear them again day after day. First Lite also features a “shooters cut” on their shirts (see problem 2) that have specially designed shoulders to allow full range of movement and fitted lower sleeve to prevent bow string interference.

Problem 2: Odor control after days of continued use. Knowing we would be in the back country for a number of days1430188149902-2353460841430071241262694008033a with limited ability to wash clothing, I needed clothing that would naturally neutralize odors, even after days of continued use. It was suggested that I use a merino wool based product because wool naturally wicks away moisture (as much as 30% of its weight) and releases it into the air. By doing this the moisture doesn’t remain on the skins surface, allowing bacteria and therefore odors to be created. First Lite created a women’s line of merino wool base layers that fit my needs perfectly. The set of the Lupine crew shirt and Larkspur bottoms created naturally odor resistant base layer that I topped with the Artemis hoody and finished it off with a pair of their Mountain Athlete Compression socks. Even after days of wear, these products remained relatively odor free (except for the socks, but I blame the waterlogged boots). Minus 33 has a line of merino based underwear that I also used and highly suggest.

Problem3: Reusable gear. Lets face it, I am a tight with my money so I wanted gear that not only worked well in the mountains but would also be good for hunting at home so I needed something that could span from the heat of 14301875240601376827267Louisiana early season but could stand up to a cool Colorado mountain archery season morning. I also wanted a pattern of camo that would work for both areas. First Lite accomplished these as well. Another 1409588562924-768062539great attribute of merino wool is because of its extreme moisture wicking abilities, it helps maintain the body’s natural micro-climate by removing the excess moisture in the air between the skin and clothing. This makes the wearer cooler in the heat and warmer in the winter. Previously, I was using a well known popular brand of camo that blended well in some locations but not in others. The fusion camo is a unique pattern described as “crackalature” by First Lite is designed to distort the hunter’s silhouette while avoiding “color blobbing” that has truly14398583972051093645653proven to blend in with everything from the rocks to the swamp. It uses large and small shape disruption to cause distortion of not only the general shape but of “texture” and depth also. Their website truly has some very interesting literature on this subject, but I can tell you from first hand knowledge that it is easy to lose someone sitting only a couple feet away from you in the fusion camo.

 

With these changes to myself and my gear, I headed west again with confidence and the ability to conquer whatever mother nature could physically throw at me. After a little over a ten mile hike, uphill, in the pouring rain into our designated camping spot and spending nearly a week in the back country, I could not conjure a single negative statement about the First Lite gear that had been suggested to me. As for my physical fitness, I had advanced leaps and bounds over what I would have been able to accomplish had I stayed on the path I was traveling.  I am no miracle worker or extraordinary case.

If I can change my life for something I am passionate about, just about any one can if they put in the time and effort.

Sarah Fromenthal, EvoOutdoors ProStaff

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Sarah Fromenthal was born and raised in South Louisiana. Sarah has a strong passion for hunting, fishing, the outdoors, and cooking what she catches/kills flowing throw her veins. She believes archery is a sport you can never completely master and is always reading, listening, and observing to become the best archer she can be, but she also loves to share the knowledge she does have with others.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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NO hunt’N, NO Fish’N, NO Nuth’N

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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

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Serena Lynn of STAR (South Texas Archery Riders)

 

3. Comradery  

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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

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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

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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!

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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

#PracticeWithPurpose – Stephen

How do you keep cool when making the shot?

Andrea Haas ProStaff EvoOutdoorsOne of the questions that I am often asked by women who are interested in bow hunting for the first time is, “How do you keep your cool when making the shot?” They often say “I just don’t think I would be able to shoot a deer with a bow”, or “It just seems so hard, I don’t think I would be able to pull it off”. While I love encouraging other women to get involved in hunting, I will be honest when I say that yes, bowhunting is very hard. If it was easy everyone would be doing it! While a successful bow hunt is difficult to pull off, it is definitely very attainable with some hard work, determination and practice. Lots and lots of practice!

Thinking back to my very first bow season, I began by shooting my bow every day from about May to opening day in September. When you start shooting your bow pay extra attention to getting down proper form and finding your anchor point. After a while this becomes second nature and you won’t even have to think about it, you just do it every time. I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to target practice. Shooting a few arrows each night is far better than shooting multiple arrows and letting yourself get tired and your form sloppy.

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practing proper form is essential for success

Practice with the equipment you know you will be hunting with. My bow is sighted in using 100 grain broad heads, all the same brand. All of my arrows are the same brand, weight & straightness, and the fletchings are the same on each arrow. I want to know that no matter what arrow I use in my quiver, each one is going to shoot the same way. Bow hunting is a huge challenge and making yourself familiar and comfortable with your weapon is half the battle.

Take into consideration the gear you will be hunting in and practice shooting in it. When you are shooting in your back yard you are probably shooting in jeans and a t-shirt. But when you are hunting you usually have on multiple layers, making it a little more difficult to pull your bow back and find your anchor point. This past season I was full draw on a great buck and had a clothing mishap that forced me to pass on the shot. If I had practiced in that particular clothing item I would have known that it was something I preferred not to bow hunt in and would have filled my deer tag a LOT earlier in the season!

Another pre-season shooting tip is to practice shooting from a tree stand or ground blind, whichever you are going to be hunting out of. If you’ll be hunting from a tree stand practice shooting from one and get used to shooting at an angle. If you’ll be hunting out of a ground blind, practice while sitting down or from your knees. If you are able to, get in the blind and practice shooting out of it. With ground blinds you have a smaller window to shoot out of and it takes some getting used to.

Practicing the above tips should help ease some of your bow hunting jitters and make you more prepared for an actual hunt. When a deer steps out and you are ready to shoot, hopefully all of this will come back to you automatically so you can focus on making a good shot. To me, shot placement and remembering your anchor point when shooting at an animal are THE most important things to focus on. When I shot my first deer with a bow, I had mosquitoes swarming around my head and biting my face as I was preparing to make the shot, but thanks to all my practice I was able to stay focused and make a clean shot.

My friend Allison O’Nan and Field Staff for EvoOutdoors, shared some of her tips with me that help her stay calm when bow hunting:

  • Participating in 3D archery tournaments or league where you are feeling under pressure will help you to work through the jitters when it comes time to shooting game.
  • Visualize making the shot when you are at full draw. Confidence is the key! But don’t get over confident and cause yourself to extend pass your own shooting limits.
  • Practice breathing techniques every time you shoot, even in your own back yard. Breathing through my shots keeps my mind clear and hand steady. As I inhale/exhale I pass over my target three times before I settle in and release my arrow.
  • Chewing gum is a great way to release nervous energy. However, for bow hunting, maybe try a brand such as Gum-O-Flage.

Allison O’Nan | Field Staff for EvoOutdoorsI’ve had a lot of successful hunts, but have found that most of my unsuccessful ones were due to lack of focus. For me, the excitement/nervousness that I feel right before I shoot a deer is always there. It was there on my very first bow hunt, my last hunt and will be on my next. But the above tips have really helped me control my excitement and keep my cool in the heat of the moment when a shot presents itself.

2014 Archery deer harvest

2014 Archery deer harvest

Andrea Haas | ProStaff EvoOutdoors

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.