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John Dudley | 4.10.2019

Owning the Off-Season

  • Pursuit: Everyday

Three proactive steps to improve your archery success.

By John Dudley
Photography by Austin Thomas

A good coach once told me that “being lucky” is actually just being prepared. It was a valuable lesson and one that also applies to the backcountry. Now is the time to prepare with a purpose, not the week before the season starts. Here are three ways to do just that:

1. Manage your maintenance.

Make sure to give your rig an early checkup. Nothing is worse than procrastinating with your equipment and not having complete confidence in your setup. Doing this before the season allows me to take advantage of new parts in stock and dealers having more time to focus on the details. It also gives me time to practice with what I’ll take to the timber. Go through your gear with a fine tooth comb. Replace worn strings, frayed D-loops, old silencers; rebuild arrows and fletching, sharpen broadheads and clean last year’s debris from the nooks and crannies.

2. Practice with a purpose.

As an archery coach, I see people roaming the range without real intention on improvement. As hunters, we have a serious responsibility to be as ethical and proficient as possible and that starts with a clear objective. This year, write down some goals to work on (shooting, overall hunting fitness, etc.). Writing it down keeps you accountable. Work on your goals until you see improvement and then cross it off the list.

3. Stop watching and follow through.

Hunters often make the common mistake of watching their arrow instead of finishing the shot. For a right- handed shooter, you’ll miss low (and often low-right) when trying to see where that arrow is going. Good shooting technique means staring intently at the exact spot you want to hit. Trust your sight pin in that area, pull the trigger and let the release of the string surprise you as you keep your gaze locked on the spot you were aiming at. Let the release hand follow through by pulling past the back of your head and stopping above your shoulder. This method will improve your accuracy.

John Dudley shoots continuously to improve his accuracy.