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Practicing with Crossbows
There is a lot of misinformation about shooting and hunting with crossbows. Many hunters unfamiliar with crossbows believe you can take it out of the box, shoot it a few times to get it sighted in, and you are ready to go hunting. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Crossbows are archery gear. It takes practice to become proficient with the bow, and training does not stop after a few arrows hit the bullseye. Practice never stops. You owe it to yourself and the animal you are hunting to be as good with your gear as possible.
Best Crossbow Targets
Not just any archery target will work for crossbows. The power behind a crossbow will send an arrow flying through a target that is not made to withstand the force a crossbow delivers.
The Hurricane H21 Crossbow Target is designed for crossbows and high-speed bows; the Hurricane targets feature highly visible shooting “eyes” (with bright orange centers) that are easy to see against the bright colored background, even at longer ranges. Some other features are high visibility aiming points, an off-center deer vitals design, and a heavy-duty handle.
Another excellent target is Shooter 3D Archery Targets – Turkey! I always find it extremely fun to shoot at realistic targets. Not only that, it’s fantastic training for those real-world scenarios.
Archery Target Distance for Beginners
An excellent place to start with any bow, crossbows included, is shooting at 20 yards, and when you’re proficient at keeping the bolts in a four to five-inch circle, move out to 30 yards and rinse and repeat. Even if you would never shoot a game past 30 yards, get to where you can consistently hit the target at 50 or 60 yards, or even more. This is a great confidence builder and makes you even deadlier at closer ranges. If you can consistently hit your target at 55 yards, you will feel good about taking a 30-yard shot on an animal!
When on the range, it’s great to shoot distances you feel comfortable taking deer at, but you should also be proficient shooting longer distances, even if you wouldn’t shoot deer at those ranges. One reason to practice long distance shots is to help you shoot tighter groups at closer ranges. If there is anything in your form or follow-through that is off, you will quickly notice it at 60 yards. When you notice something is off, you will be forced to make changes and correct it, improving your overall form and accuracy.
Top 5 Tips for Practicing
- It is very easy to get into the routine of going out in casual, comfortable clothing to practice. While time practicing is always a productive endeavor, remember that during hunting season, your clothing will be much different. Make sure to take a few shots during your early season with your complete kit on to ensure you can be just as efficient and accurate.
- You should also practice some hunting scenarios. Just because you are consistently hitting the bullseye from the ground doesn’t mean that everything will be the same when you shoot at a downward angle from a treestand. Hang it early season and practice those downward angle shots from its small platform. Doing this a few times throughout the summer and consistently hitting the target will build confidence in your shooting when the moment of truth arrives.
- The same holds true if you hunt from a ground blind. Set it up and practice shooting while sitting down or kneeling. It might make you realize that changes need to be made to how your body is angled toward the target. Watch closely for limb clearance too! If you become consistent shooting from your ground blind now, it’ll be a piece of cake when the buck of a lifetime steps out.
- You should also try shots from a seated position as well as standing, twisting, and so on. If you can imagine it happening while hunting, you can practice it now. It’s incredible how many contortions you might have to go through when hunting, so it’s best to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at you.
- The best crossbow practice is shooting a 3-D course. Today’s 3-D targets are lifelike and can provide for uber-realistic practice sessions. You can place targets in various positions and terrain to imitate likely hunting scenarios. Distances should vary from really close to pretty far. It’s also a good idea to practice 3-Ds in similar terrain where your hunt will take place. You can often find 3-D courses as well; however, they don’t always mimic the type of hunting situations you might encounter; it’s still an excellent way to practice different angles and distances encountered on these courses.
Finally, going back to suggestion 1, it’s a good idea in the following four practice tips to remember to try these same scenarios in your hunting clothing to make sure you shoot just the same!
How to Make Good Shots with a Crossbow
It might sound like a proficient hunter/shooter should shoot lots of arrows daily to stay on top of their game. You’re better off just shooting a few arrows each day and concentrating on form to make the best shots possible. Long practice sessions tend to tire you out, and shots get sloppy and erratic before you know it. This can lead to wondering if something is wrong with your setup or the tuning of your bow when it’s probably just fatigue. For these reasons, it is always best to shoot fewer quality shots than to keep firing away as you get tired. Also, never make bow adjustments late in a practice session. Any adjustments to a bows zero, or any tuning should always be made when you’re fresh so you can ensure it’s the bow and not shooter fatigue!
When is the best time to practice? Right now! Working on shooting now will pay big dividends this fall, so break out that bow and get ready for that hunt of a lifetime!