Shooting your bow or rifle all spring and summer at preknown distances at familiar targets is something we all do and certainly contributes to becoming an accurate marksman. But … there’s the moment in the field when your bull or buck is approaching or your stalk plan is coming to a close that your world stops spinning and your head starts. It’s truly this intensity that makes hunting big game so enjoyable and addicting. Following are a few ways to settle yourself down at crunch time and get accurate results from your shot.
Create a small physical challenge
Jog around your archery target area, in a safe area at the rifle range, or do an exercise like burpees to get your heart rate up. Then take a kneeling shot with your bow or an offhand shot with your rifle. The rifle range needs to either be empty or have other folks there aware of what you’re doing.
Have someone set your target without knowing your distance
Turn and take your shot within 5 seconds.
Fine tune your gun off of a rest, or standing with proper form with your bow
Then create challenging positions with both gun and bow either at home or at the range through small target windows. It’s easy to stand with proper form or have a rest with a rifle, but a huge percentage of shots you’ll be offered hunting will be in random positions. Create confidence in any challenging position you can comprise.
There are many different techniques for trying to defeat anxiety or “buck fever.” Here’s what works for me.
Create a four-step mental checklist for either rifle or bow. Check range; draw down with rifle or draw your bow; pick your spot on the animal (ie tuft of hair or crease behind front leg); and then, most importantly, squeeze the trigger or release. Let the shot surprise you as you’re hovering the sight on the target.
One more mental technique to help squash the “fever”
Give as hard of an effort as possible physically to get yourself in the window of shot opportunity. Then, as it starts to become time, tell yourself, “This may or may not happen, either way is great, you enjoy just putting yourself there in the moment.” That helps settle the mind as you move into taking the best shot opportunity that the animal gives you and getting it done properly.