Some more thoughts about the importance of practicing correctly that come to mind when you use the bow and arrow. When you draw the arrow and string back, you should repeatedly place the same part of your hand that is holding the string on the same spot of your cheek. It is called the anchor point. That way for every shot, your eye is always looking at the target when there is a constant relationship among the bow, arrow, and the released arrow’s flight path.

My initial practice each season is out in the open, with nothing between me and the target. I am always kneeling, because that is how I will be positioned on the hunt. Once I am able to hit the target consistently—and I do this by finding the same anchor point for each shot—I change my location. I was smart enough all these years to realize that I had to be behind a tree when drawing the bow on a real turkey—if I drew out in the open, the bird would see the motion. So I’ve practiced shooting from behind a tree. First I draw slowly with maximum concealment. Then I lean over to the right, peering gradually to minimize my movement and still see my prey. And then I often miss the 3-D target and in the field the live bird.

What I noticed three days ago is that as I leaned over, I was not making sure that my hand was connecting with my anchor point. So my alignment was off, and I was shooting high and/or wide. Lots of frustration. But then I figured it out. Lesson to be learned: re-examine what might be going wrong when things aren’t going right. I have “only” been hunting with a bow for maybe eight years. No wonder I have taken just one bird in all that time.

The other technique I learned recently is that when shooting down at the bird from a higher elevation, like a hill, one should NOT aim based on the actual distance between me and the turkey. Pretend it is less, and shoot as if it is less.

I was complaining to an engineer friend of mine who bow hunts how often my arrows went over the bird’s back. He used triangle geometry to prove why I must shoot below where I thought the arrow would go. Instead of estimating the actual distance to the turkey, I have to estimate the horizontal distance, because that, I have just been told, is all gravity cares about when it starts pulling down on those arrows in flight. So if I am 30 yards away actually, but on a hill that is 45 degrees higher, I should aim as if the bird is just 21 yards away.

If I am 30 yards away on a gentler-sloped hill, say 22 degrees, then I should aim as if I were just 27 yards away. Not immediately apparent, but I am applying it on the practice field.

Improving one’s skill by taking advice from those more experienced is always a good idea in the beginning. Later on, we can adopt those techniques and strategies that we develop ourselves…in spite of what our peers and teachers insist is right for them.