Bow Hunting | How to Recover From a Missed Shot
Archery hunting, especially when it comes to chasing whitetail deer can sometimes be easily compared to football. It seems no matter how much you scout, how much you prepare the other team, (the whitetail deer in this case) always know what play you have called. This amazing sense of intuition seems to always have the whitetail deer completing first downs while you are constantly in third and long type situations. This even means the potential miss…at which point it’s all about how to recover from a missed shot, or missed opportunity.
“Perfect” | Raised Hunting S.2 Ep.7
(Video) Whether it’s football or bow hunting, we can’t expect perfection by any means, all we can do is expect perfect effort.
This constant back and forth struggle can sometimes lead to making bad decisions. This is especially true when bow hunting. Taking a poor shot with your bow is much like a quarterback trying to fit a ball into a tight window…only moments later discovering that it was going to result in the game winning interception. This scenario often leads to a firestorm of emotion and almost immediate regret. However, much like a quarterback who throws an interception to lose the game, an archery hunter can throw a bad arrow and lose the season. In this case, the number one thing to do is walk away with a short term memory. The sport of archery hunting requires skill and patients, and sometimes that isn’t even enough. If you bow hunt long enough, you will miss from time to time. That is a fact. How you choose to deal with the miss and move on to the next hunt is a skill that can sometimes take a little longer to figure out.
Why do We Miss?
The science behind archery hunting, especially game species like white-tailed deer, continues to improve by leaps and bounds each and every year. Most of the advances in bow hunting are designed to help the hunter minimize their risk of missing their target while at the same time extending their effective range. From GoldTip Arrows to Limbsavers, all of today’s bow hunting accessories are designed to help you to reduce weight, make your arrows fly faster, harder, and increase your accuracy. So why do we still miss?
Well, the truth is, there are a variety of reasons that we miss while bow hunting. Most of the time, it has absolutely nothing to do with the equipment we are using, even though we would love to blame the miss on a bad peep sight or a string making too much noise. In all actuality, misses while bow hunting often occurs as a result of either poor judgement or as a result of bad archery fundamentals.
Rushing the Shot
Let’s first dive into the realm of poor judgement. Poor judgement is a broad term, however, there are several factors that can be lumped in under the “poor judgement” heading that can cause someone to miss a shot. This can include making a long shot, taking a shot at a moving animal, or trying to weave an arrow through brush or between trees. While all of these scenarios happen often, the number one mistake that an archer will make while bow hunting is rushing the shot.
The old saying “patience is a virtue” certainly holds true when it comes to bow hunting, yet at some point in their hunting career, a hunter will rush a shot on an animal. There are a lot of reasons for rushing a shot, however, most of us do it out of sheer excitement or a feeling that we need to take the marginal for fear that the current shot opportunity is the best or only one they will be presented with. Regardless of the reason, if you rush a shot, there is a high probability you will miss every time.
In addition to rushing the shot, the second most common reason that an archer will tend to miss while bow hunting is simply often a lack of fundamentals. This involves everything from not drawing fully to your anchor point to jumping the peep sight and not following through with your release. In layman’s terms, you simply get buck fever so bad that you forget how to shoot your bow.
Archery fundamentals are a critical piece of being successful while bow hunting. Much like a good quarterback needs good footwork to be an accurate passer, an archer must have good fundamentals to make an accurate shot.
How To Recover From A Missed Shot
So here is a realistic scenario: It is the early season and it is your first night in the tree. It is just about the end of legal shooting light when all of a sudden the buck you’re after steps out. You can still see your sights, so you bring your Bear back to full draw. Your heart is pumping faster than you have ever experienced, your head is pounding, and time stands still…The next thing you know, you hear the sound of a GoldTip being thrown down range. The arrow misses its mark and the buck you have been chasing is headed for the next county… Unfortunately, anyone who takes up bow hunting will most likely experience this scenario in some form or fashion. How you respond is completely up to you.
Missing can sometimes be hard to get over, especially when it’s a nice deer. While it doesn’t necessarily ease the pain, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that at the very least you did not wound the animal. Archery misses are often low impact, and within a week or so the deer you missed will have forgot all about your encounter, and you should do the same.
The number one thing that you can do after you miss an animal is to put it behind you and move on to the next hunt. The more you dwell, the more it can rattle your confidence. To be an accurate archer, confidence is important, so it is important that you have a short term memory.
After a miss, it is important to make some time to shoot your bow, this is a critical step for how to recover from a missed shot. A lot of archery hunters will quit practicing once the season begins. If anything, you should practice more once the season begins than at any other time in the year. Shooting right after a miss is a quick way to build your confidence and continue to help you grow comfortable with your equipment. If you miss, take a couple days off, grab the archery target, your compound bow, and throw a couple arrows down range.
While dwelling on the hunt is never a good thing, it is important to think through the hunt and determine when things went off track. Often it can lead to simple fixes like trimming shooting lanes or simply stepping or using a range finder to evaluate your distances. All of these things combined can help take your mind off of the situation and get you focused and ready to move on.
Misses are going to happen it is just a fact of life, however, if you are solid in your shooting fundamentals and ensure that you are taking your time and not rushing your shots you have an excellent chance at being successful. However, when you do find yourself on the heels of a miss, remember to get back on the horse and start shooting. It can help you move on and make sure that there are back straps in the back of the truck the next time you hit the woods!