Believe it or not, bow season starts July 31st in Florida’s South Zone. I have a hunt scheduled in that area for the weekend of August 7th. I am nowhere near ready – practice-wise – for this trip.
Admittedly, practicing in the summer is not all that fun. One can get in a hurry to ditch the humidity. Bugs wreck concentration. Dehydration cramps muscles. Combine this with the typical offseason rust and the situation can get frustrating in a hot second. I’ve never found shooting a bow to be all that difficult given half-way decent tackle, but poor form from lack of attention and rush is usually the difference between bulls-eye shots and those that bury in the muck.
It took me a few seasons to figure out a trick to evade all of this – slow down. These days when I start this annual ritual, I'll pick a distance - usually the 20 yard mark - and loose three deliberate shots spaced with 30 seconds or more in between. This permits me to concentrate on relocating proper stance and anchor point. Again, when rushed, these little aspects of shooting a bow are lost.
After six shots, I’ll back up to thirty yards and wait a minute between shots. Forty yards about the same. Then, I’m done for the day after 12 arrows. As the days progress, I’ll up my quota, but still allow the patience to take calm shots. Shooting with others is a fine way to balance this time.
Shooting in the heat leads to off-accuracy consequences. I used to zip through my duties just to get it over with and return to the A/C. I sweat like a field laborer just getting out of bed and loathe myself for it. The oppressive Sunshine State heat really bothers me – but I will not go afield unprepared, so I compromised with myself. Clean the guilt by shooting fast and not shooting often. No Bueno!
A few years back, this design ruined my left shoulder trying to fit what should have been a several week regimen into a few days. Granted that bow did not have the let-off my current one does, but the results on the Block target were tragic. Lost a couple arrows. A few reminded me of the fighter planes King Kong batted down in the movies, spiraling and looping out of control as I torqued the various muscles used in bow shooting to compensate for the pain.
Irritated and not fully aware of my situation, this all led to one thing – Allen wrenches. Sights and rests were adjusted, and by the end of it, I had one big rat’s nest of a problem that took a start-from-scratch approach to correct. The shoulder pain lasted through November, but I slowed way down to get back to where I started.
Next, your muscles – well, at least mine – can tire easily in the heat. Another reason to slow down the tempo and not work into a sweaty mess. I take a water bottle or two and have a sip between sequences and wrap a bandana around my forehead to keep sweat out of my eyes. So I look strange, but I typically keep the broadhead in the bull. In Florida, shooting in the late evening helps, assuming it’s not raining buckets.
The act of bowhunting is a precision game and often conducted in less than ideal temperature and weather. It makes sense to me to practice in these conditions and adjust. The first step after unleashing that bow from the case from whence it’s spent the last nine months is to steady yourself for this knowledge. From there, work patiently through the sweat and tears. The success of your season may well depend on it.