Elevated Practice

April 13, 2016 — Leave a comment

Practice is paramount for us hunters. If we have one goal each season it’s to make a quick clean kill on our quarry.  That practice is even more important for those using archery gear if we expect to perform with the required consistency to be that efficient killer.  I’m thinking that if you follow this site you are dedicated to repeated shooting in the off season to meet your accuracy goals during the season.  However, if you hunt from a treestand, how many of you shoot from an elevated perch when you practice?  While any shooting is beneficial you should be sure to practice how you will hunt.

The two biggest challenges or differences from shooting on the ground vs. a treestand are maintaining your form and estimating distances. A lot of people will generally hit slightly higher from a stand than shooting on the ground.  This can be attributed to the geometry associated with being elevated rather than simple straight line distance from your target.  The picture below illustrates what I’m talking about.

judging_distance_down courtesy of hunter-ed.com

Photo Courtesy of hunter-ed.com


While you thought you were taking a 13 yard shot the target was only 12 yards away. This is exaggerated even more the higher in the tree you go or the further below you the animal is.  You can compensate for this by either sighting in your bow from elevation or a lot of the new rangefinders offer trajectory compensation and give you the true distance based on the angle you’re shooting from.

The second issue is your form. If the animal is well below you then most will simply lower their arm to take aim.  This can affect your draw length and also your anchor point.  Changing either of those will ultimately alter where your arrow will hit.  The way to combat this is by bending at the waist.  By bending at the waist the upper body (thus your form) will remain in the same position as it would be if you were shooting from level ground.  An easy way to accomplish this is when you are ready to shoot at an animal draw your bow as if you were shooting at something level with your position.  Then you will just need to bend your waist and there should be no change in your draw length or anchor point.

There are many ways to practice shooting from above and I have tried most of them.   If you are fortunate enough to have a hill nearby set your target at the bottom and walk uphill to shoot (hey you’re getting some good exercise in too!).  You could also hang a treestand in your back yard and really practice how you will be hunting.  Many 3D courses offer platforms to shoot from as you traverse the course giving you some situational practice.  The one I use the most now is shooting from my deck.

It’s already set up and all I have to do is walk out the back door (plus, I can sneak in some extra flights of stairs!). The one thing that I also do to simulate actual hunting conditions is stand on a milk crate or step to give the feeling of the tiny platform I’ll be shooting from come hunting season.   So in summary, if you’re going to be hunting from a treestand, make sure you practice like you’re in a treestand.

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