Getting ready for indoor archery season can be a tricky task. The season can be as long as 6 months in some parts of the country, and you can easily get burned out by shooting too much. On the other hand, you can end up being unprepared if you wait too long to get started. Below is a schedule that works well for me.
Start with Form in October
Generally, I start some indoor archery practice in October, either on days that I don’t go hunting or in the evening after coming in from the hunt. I do not shoot very often this time of year but do try to get a little archery shooting in every other day or two, just to get started. My goal is to shoot 30-60 arrows at a time to get my muscles back into shooting shape. I don’t want to overdo it during this time, since I haven’t shot my bow much in the past few months.
The first month or so I work on my form to get it where it needs to be. I like to shoot each shot as perfect as I can. As much as I want to shoot a good score, I try not to focus on it at this point. I am more concerned with my form and making good shots.
Equipment + Score are the Focus in November
As the November rut passes and archery hunting season ends, I start shooting more and more. This is when I get more serious about my shooting. I put more value on the score and sort out my equipment. I replace the bowstrings and cables on my bows and get them ready for the upcoming season. With my body in better shape, I can figure out what is and isn’t working on my setup. I shoot different setups back-to-back or day to day to make fair comparisons. When testing, it’s always good to shoot multiple rounds to get the best results.
Focus on Maintenance Beginning Mid-December
By mid-December I shoot my bow almost every day if possible. I ramp up the number of arrows shot to 60-120 arrows a day. If I’m happy with my setups, these are for score. If I feel like something needs work, I address it. If I’m not aiming well, I spend the day working exclusively on my aim. If I’m getting lazy on the release end, I work on that.
I compare this to a sports team practicing. A sports team doesn’t just go to practice and play a pick-up game. Each practice is broken down into smaller sessions of working on a specific piece of the game. This is one area where I think most archers could improve. Most just go to the range night after night and shoot good or bad, but never work on what needs fixed to shoot better. A single night of maintenance practice can achieve amazing results.
The New Year Tests Preparation
The new year brings local archery tournaments. These tournaments show me how well I did to prepare for the season. If I did everything properly, I roll into these tournaments without problems. My confidence is high from knowing that I am performing the best I can with my equipment.
January – March = To Do Lists
My archery practice January through March is pretty much the same as it was in December, depending on my archery tournament schedule. With the different indoor formats, I vary my routine a bit to adjust for each one. It’s important to use archery tournaments to improve my shooting. No matter how good or bad I shoot at each one, I should come away with a ‘to do’ list every time. What were my flaws and how do I fix them? I often take a day or two off after a big national archery tournament to reflect and relax.
Shooting should be Fun
One thing I must remind myself of is that shooting should be fun. If sneaking out to practice seems more like a job than a hobby, it might be time to cut back. I know I normally don’t shoot as well on nights that I don’t feel like shooting compared to the nights that I can’t wait to get off work to shoot. If I feel like I’m getting burned out, I step away. Sometimes I’ll put everything down for a week or more just to take a break.
Shooting indoor archery can be fun, rewarding and frustrating all at the same time. The key thing is to find what works for you. Indoor archery is a game of repetition. The key is to do it repeatedly until it becomes automatic. I hope this article has laid some groundwork for those of you looking to shoot serious this winter.