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Published by Gear Junky on 14 Apr 2008

Gear Junky: Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume I

I love hunting. I love hunting like Jared loves Subway, like Mannings love endorsements, like Hillary loves taxes. I love hunting so much that I require a weekly hunting fix. That’s problematic, however, since fall refuses to come more than once a year. Other guys are able to scratch that itch with weekend fishing trips, but fishing strikes me as being kind of like the PGA tour – it’s available every weekend and usually keeps you entertained, but never builds to a yearly crescendo. Hunting progresses more like the NFL, the “Superbowl” of all outdoor activities. Like the Superbowl, my yearly big-game hunting adventure usually doesn’t live up to my expectations. But even when it’s bad, it’s still awfully good.

So naturally, I spend eleven months out of the year obsessing over the details of hunting season. I’ve become a gear junky, much to the chagrin of my wife, who tries her best to resist the temptation to tally up the piles of receipts from Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, and Paypal that accumulate in my not-so-secret Danner boots box on the top shelf in the hunting closet. You may be thinking, “Hold on, aren’t you in like your eighth year of college? How can you possibly afford long hunting trips, let alone the latest gear?” Well, I’d like to say that I have a profitable side-business or online revenue stream, but the truth is, I just got lucky and found a sugar momma. Until I finish school and they call me Doctor, it’s my wife’s hard-earned cash I’m spending. Suffice it to say, I’m required to be as budget-minded as possible. So my recommendations are targeted towards people like myself who want the best gear for the best value. The Archery Talk community is a natural fit.

Before I get to my first set of hardcore hunter must-owns, here’s a few things to keep in mind when reading my recommendations:

1) These are recommendations, not reviews…and there’s a big difference. I can’t stand the way gear is reviewed in outdoor magazines. Inevitably, the magazine editor’s are given a new product by an eager manufacturer for review, and the editors either try it out for a few weeks, or (worse yet) give it to a subscriber to evaluate. What sort of credibility does that leave the review? Nobody wants to knock a product they received for free, and very few products are given a realistic amount of abuse before the review goes to print. Also, a review of the latest 2008 backpack by a specific manufacturer isn’t very valuable in and of itself. When I’m in the market for a backpack, I don’t care about one specific model of one specific brand in one specific year. Instead, I want to find the best backpack from any manufacturer from any year, in my given price range for my specific needs. A gear recommendation can do just that, if the author’s criteria and price range are comparable to the shopper’s. That’s what I’ll do here; instead of reviewing the latest gear, I’ll identify the best gear.

2) I am not brand loyal. I want the best gear for my hard-earned dollar (um, my wife’s hard-earned dollar) and I’ll go with whomever best meets that need. Loyalty is great in other realms of life, but not for consumers. Manufacturers need to know that if they slip and lose their competitive edge at all, we’ll take our business elsewhere. It’s good for the manufacturer and the consumer when competition thrives, and too much brand loyalty takes a company’s focus off of innovation and places it on achieving name-brand recognition. Fanboys have become too common and don’t give unbiased recommendations, so I’ll try my darndest to avoid being a fanboy…unless we happen to discuss Major League Baseball, in which case, Go Mariners! and Die, Redsox Nation, die flopping in the dirt like a gut-shot ground squirrel!

Only joking. Sort of.

3) I’m open to other great ideas. If you know about something that beats the heck out of one my must-haves, let me know and I’ll give it a chance. I’m always looking to improve my own gear, and I’d love to provide the best recommendations around, even if one of my favorite products gets the bump. Use the comments to our mutual benefit (for a better description of Mutual Benefit, please google “Supermodel weds Texas Billionaire”).

4) My focus is on light-weight, durable, cost-effective, useful, and innovative gear for the backcountry. What meets that criteria? The supermodel mentioned above would rate fairly well in all categories except cost-effective, but close is no cigar, so supermodels do not receive my recommendation. I live and hunt out West, and when you’re chasing mountain mulies or rutting bulls out of a one-man camp, your life depends on your equipment. Hunting whitetails deep in the forest is a similar game, I assume…but if you walk from your front door to your tree stand, some of what I’ll blog about won’t apply. Also, there are thousands of great posts around here about archery equipment, so my focus will be on other gear for bowhunting.

With all that said, here’s my first installment of Must-Own recommendations for other Archery Talk gear junkies. Hope you find this helpful…or entertaining, if nothing else.

Must-Own Camp Stove: The Jetboil

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($75 online)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 10

Like most of us, I often don’t return to camp until an hour or more after dark, and only two things are on my mind: food and sleep, the sooner the better. About ten years ago, dehydrated food manufacturers finally responded to consumer demand and began producing one-step freeze-dried meals that were actually tasty. I understand your reluctance to accept tasty and freeze-dried in the same sentence, since they sound about as compatible as Jessica Simpson and Harvard graduate. But believe me, some of the best meals I’ve had on the road were prepared in those little zippered pouches. The product only requires that you add boiling water, then re-seal and let stand for a few minutes while it cooks your dinner for you. I eat the meal right out of the package, so the only dinnerware needed is a fork. When done, I just seal the empty pouch back up, with no mess and no smell to attract bears or wandering mountain hippies.

How much does a full stomach and all that peace of mind cost? About six bucks for most brands. Mountain House is available everywhere, and has some great varieties. The desserts are fantastic, by the way, and although they aren’t cheap (around $4), they sure beat another lousy candy bar.

Where does the Jetboil enter the picture, you ask? The Jetboil, as Matlock would deduce just before the final commercial break, is the one responsible for the boiling. And how! I’ve clocked it firing sixteen ounces of glacier run-off to a boil in less than ninety seconds. And it wasn’t even trying. My kitchen stove can’t come close to matching that speed, and the story just begins there. As you can see in the photo, the Jetboil utilizes a specialized coil that maximizes heat transfer between the stove and attachable cup while reducing fuel demand. It’s lightning fast and efficient…two or three small isobutane cannisters (a few bucks each, available everywhere) will get you through most hunting seasons. And the stove and cannister fit inside the 1.0 liter companion cup, so the entire system (stove, cup, sipper lid, measuring cup, fuel cannister) takes up only slightly more space than a Gatorade bottle while weighing only 19 oz. That’s pretty impressive for a unit that can serve as a mug, pot, bowl (top ramen lovers can pour their $0.14 packages right in), and even coffee maker (with optional coffee press for those who don’t mind the less-than-stealthy breath). And the best part? The cup is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve so you can hold it firmly, no matter how hot it gets (even while the stove is on). No more metal pot grabber! Combine all of this with a slick little ignitor that works every time at the push of a button, and you have a great piece of gear, all for $75. No matter how light I want my pack to be, the Jetboil always makes the trip.

Must-Own Hunting Shelter: Outdoor Research “Alpine” Bivy

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 6 ($199 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

If you are anything like me (and you have my wife’s deepest sympathies if you are), you’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what in Sam Hill a bivy sack is, but you have been too afraid to ask. Well, ever since Al Gore invented the internet (tee hee!) we curious types now have a venue for seeking answers without having to ask questions, which spares our fragile egos. Bivy sacks, I have since discovered, are one-man shelters that the mountaineering community developed to surpass the shortcomings of the good ol’ one-man tent. Those of you who have set up camp in a storm already know that a tent can turn into a liability; they blow over, collapse, don’t keep out ground water, and take time to set up. A bivy, on the other hand, succeeds where tents fail.

September bowhunting usually provides good weather, so I prefer to sleep under the stars wearing nothing but my crusty, er, trusty long john’s and a sleeping bag. I own an outstanding two-man tent, but I like to pack as light as possible in the backcountry, and late summer weather usually doesn’t pin you down for more than a day at a time, so a tent really isn’t necessary. But if a thunderstorm or blizzard strikes, a bivy is a life saver. And Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy is the best of the bunch for a hunter’s needs.

The Alpine is made out of triple-layer GORE-TEX so it’s waterproof, lightweight and breathable. It fits over your sleeping bag and sleeping pad like a sock, keeping your bedding safe from rain, ground water, and dew. What really sets it apart is one cleverly placed tent pole that arches above the shoulder area. The design lifts the fabric just enough to ditch that claustrophobic feeling that other models are known for, and it allows you to do a little reading or change your clothes without restriction. I slip my bedding into the Alpine even when there’s no chance of rain, because it’s mesh bug shield allows me to see the stars without giving blood. When hunting in the rain, there’s just enough room inside to stuff your pack and wet clothes to dry via body heat overnight. That scenario may be less than ideal, but it’s good option to have if you need it. If a prolonged storm does pin you down, a lightweight tarp (like the kind most of us already own to place under our tents) can be strung a couple feet above for a makeshift camp (thanks to Cameron Hanes for that tip). And the most unexpected benefit I’ve had is on early hunts when my sleeping bag is just too warm – instead of baking inside my bedding, I lay on top of it, and the bivy provides just enough insulation to keep the chill off while my sore muscles enjoy the extra padding beneath me. Because the Alpine is breathable, my wretched mountain-breath doesn’t turn to condensation overnight, so the interior stays fresh and dry.

It ain’t cheap, but very few products that compress to the size of a small loaf of bread can offer so many advantages to the backcountry archer.

Must Have Backpack: Jim Horn Signature Series “Canadian” by Blacks Creek

Lightweight/Compact: 7

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($169)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 8

Yes, there are bigger and costlier packs out there, but if you want bang for your buck, this bad boy has it all. I met the designers at a trade show and was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge…they understand how the human body bears weight, and they have created a pack that partners perfectly with biomechanics. The entire line of Jim Horn signature series packs are outstanding, but I feel that the Canadian is the best for all-around hunting and backpacking purposes. Here are some pics and specs from their website:

Specifications:

  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22″H x 12″W x 11″D
  • Capacity: 2200 cubic inches (expands to 3850)
  • H20 compabitle
  • Carries bow and rifle
  • Spotting scope pocket
  • Orange safety flap
  • Adjustable torso (XS-XL)
  • Mossy Oak Breakup or Realtree Max 1
  • All heavy stress areas reinforced and bar tacked
  • Breathable mesh back
  • 13 pockets
  • Internal frame: high-tech H-frame

Now, that list may look pretty typical, but don’t be fooled. To begin, the concept that motivated the design was the internal H-frame, a lightweight innovation that provides the perfect balance of comfort and strength (the same features that I look for in a truck, hiking boot, and toilet seat). Basically, this pack can haul your meat with the best of them, replacing that annoying prerequisite trip back to the rig to retrieve an external frame once your game is down. The H-frame is surprisingly strong, and the pack is surprisingly expandable. It may not be ideal for elk, but I don’t care – I’d rather have a pack that is great for hiking and hunting elk (and spend a little more time boning and quartering) than have a pack that is perfect for hauling elk but less proficient at helping me kill one.

And man, does it have features – the spotting scope compartment, the integrated bow carrier, the integrated rifle carrier, the fantastic pocket design, the hydration pouch, the durable, quiet fabric and zippers…Santa must have read my list. Don’t get me wrong, most other high-end packs include those features, but none will fit you any better, and none will beat the price. The belt and shoulder harness are fully adjustable for most sizes, and they sell an expansion kit for guys over 6’3″ and 220lbs. (I’m 6’2″/205, and the pack fit great once I set it on the “top rung” on the standard shoulder harness).

I should take a moment to soapbox about two common misconceptions about backpacks. First, the weight of the load doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the weight of the load is distributed, despite what we’ve all heard. There are people out there who tell us that a day pack should be small and light. Not true. A pack that weighs seven pounds empty, yet fits the length and width of your torso perfectly between the hips and shoulders, will feel much lighter than a so-called “day pack” that weighs two or three pounds but isn’t long enough. The second misconception, one that I once believed, is that “a perfect pack should not touch your back, but instead should be an inch or two away for ventilation.” It’s true that none of us enjoy the feeling you get when you take off your pack to find that your back is soaked and ready to freeze with the slightest wind. But the reality is that you’re going to sweat one way or another, and it’s better to purchase quality clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin rather than rely on your pack to ventilate your back. Why? Because every inch that your pack moves away from your spine increases the load exponentially. You want the weight as close to you as possible (this can be demonstrated by placing a dumbbell in the main compartment of your backpack next to your body: note the perceived weight, then remove it, stuff a couple of inflated balloons into the main compartment, and place the dumbbell in an outer pocket with the balloons between your back and the dumbbell. The actual weight in the pack doesn’t change, but the difference in load on your spine is unbelievable). So avoid the manufacturers whose packs are too small or those that include ventilation systems. Like getting a wet kiss from your thickly-mustached great aunt, they mean well, but aren’t doing you any favors.

The Canadian pack distributes weight perfectly. And perhaps its best feature is its endless supply of compression straps, which maintain a solid, close-in load. The pack comes with a free DVD demonstrating how to use all of its features, with extra emphasis on utilizing compression straps. You can tell from the video that these guys will take care of their customers and stand by their product…buy with confidence knowing that the Canadian will handle six days worth of supplies and haul out your game, and still serve as the perfect day-pack to boot.

3 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 53 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 14 Apr 2008

Deer Stand Elevation and Impact on Shooting

I saw the dejected look on his face and knew the morning hunt hadn’t gone the way he wanted.  “What happened” I asked the young hunter.

“I can’t believe I missed the biggest buck I have ever had in my sights”, he bemoaned.  “And it was only a 25 yard shot.  How did I shoot under him from ONLY 25 yards?”

“Well, I don’t know but I can say I know your pain.  Tell me exactly how it happened.”

He started by telling me how he had gotten into his stand quietly and on time, and how the morning had seemed to be off to a perfect start.  Shortly after daybreak three young does had moved past his stand totally unaware of his presence, and although he was tempted to take one, he held off waiting for Mr. Big to catch up to them.  Within just a few moments, he heard heavy leaf crunching coming from the same direction the previous does had come from.  A glimpse of brown through the brush confirmed that another deer was moving his way.  Slowly he stood and got in shooting position in case the deer was a buck.  As the deer moved between pockets of cover, he could see antler, and a lot of it.  As he had been trained, he knew to look away from the rack and start to focus on his breathing and concentrate on setting up for the shot.  The ten pointer advanced up the trail and behind a clump of trees.  Immediately, my young friend drew and got set for the most important shot of his young deer hunting career.  The big buck stepped out from the trees and paused while trying to pinpoint the scent of the does.  The hunter picked a spot behind the left shoulder, took a deep breath and gently squeezed the release trigger.  The flight path looked straight and true as it flew toward the deer.  Just as it appeared ready to deliver a lethal blow to the buck, it arced downward and flew just under the deer’s chest, burying in the ground behind the animal.  The buck didn’t wait to figure out what had happened as it bounded away through the forest.

“And that’s how I missed a 25 yard cupcake shot”, he sighed.

“Wait a second dude,” I questioned, “how are you sure it was 25 yards?”

“Because earlier in the morning I used the rangefinder from up in the stand and it said 30 yards.”

“Huh?”, I said, “you just said it was a 25 yard shot.”

“Right, but you have to factor in the height of the tree stand.  It was 30 yards from my spot in the stand so it must have been only 25 in horizontal distance.  Duh dude.”

“Duh is right dude, grab your stuff and let’s head to the truck.  You are in desperate need of a math lesson,” I said in a way that did little to hide my irritation.

Over the course of my life up in a tree, I have seen similar situations play out many times.  Unfortunately, it seemed to happen to me way too often in the past.  I kept chalking it up to “buck fever” or some other cause when it really came down to not understanding the mathematical impact of sitting in a tree.  After a particularly rough day where I undershot a nice nine pointer three different times (yes, I missed three times as painful as it is to admit), I decided to figure out what was going wrong.  The nine pointer was thirty seven yards away according to my rangefinder, so I assumed thirty two yards of horizontal distance, aimed with my thirty yard pin and missed underneath him by 4-6 inches.  Sitting backhome replaying the misses over and over, I began to question the whole yardage component.   The next morning, I was standing at the base of my tree rangefinding a stick stuck in the ground where the buck had stood the day before.  Instead of the thirty two yards I had guesstimated, the rangefinder showed 36.5 yards.  What the heck!  First I missed a great buck and now my rangefinder is busted too.  Unfortunately, a tape measure proved that the rangefinder was fine and it was just me that was screwed up.  In my screwed up haze, however, lights bulbs starting going off and I began to understand some things that had only been mysteries before.

Suddenly I was sitting back in Algebra class learning the Pythagorean theorem where a sqaured plus b squared equalled c squared.  Back then I wondered how in the heck I would ever use this in “real life” but now I could see the direct application.  By knowing how high my stand was in the tree and the rangefinder distance from my stand to the target, I could precisely calculate the horizontal distance from the base of the tree to the target.  Below is a table showing the “real” yardage based upon common tree stand heights.

Stand Height Distance from Deer Stand to Target in Yards:
in feet:      10      15      20      25      30      35      40      45      50
10      9.43    14.62    19.72    24.78    29.81    34.84    39.86    44.88    49.89
12.5      9.09    14.41    19.56    24.65    29.71    34.75    39.78    44.81    49.83
15      8.66    14.14    19.36    24.49    29.58    34.64    39.69    44.72    49.75
17.5      8.12    13.82    19.13    24.31    29.43    34.51    39.57    44.62    49.66
20      7.45    13.44    18.86    24.09    29.25    34.36    39.44    44.50    49.55
22.5      6.61    12.99    18.54    23.85    29.05    34.19    39.29    44.37    49.43
25      5.53    12.47    18.18    23.57    28.82    33.99    39.12    44.22    49.30

As you can see, the impact of sitting up in the tree stand decreases the further you are from the target, and really only comes into play at short distances with high tree stand placement.  In fact, given the flat shooting trajectories of modern equipment it might not be relevant at all.

Now when I sit in my favorite tree stand next fall and the nine pointer, now a couple of years larger, steps out into my shooting lane, there will be one less variable to deal with.  Maybe both myself and my young hunting friend will be heading to the truck with smiles on our faces.

26 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 526 votes, average: 3.65 out of 5 (26 votes, average: 3.65 out of 5)
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Published by poorman on 11 Apr 2008

Are Big Buck$ Hurting Our Sport?

Over the years I have watched our beloved bowhunting turn into something other than what I believe it should be. It seems to me that for many it has become work rather than recreation. I personally believe that any deer with a bow is an accomplishment, but for many if it isnt a 160″+  buck then you haven’t done anything. Ninety five percent of the hunting shows on TV will only show the host harvesting large deer. I have actually had people tell me in a forum that I should not have shot that six point because he wasnt mature. It seems that the only acceptable deer to shoot anymore are the “Giants”.

Well, I for one disagree. I am not saying that if you want to practivce QDM on your own land that you shouldn’t. However do not think that because you do, every one else should. If a big buck walks in front of me then I will be more than happy to send an arrow through him. However if 1.5 year old six point makes the same mistake then he is in just as much danger as the big boy.

I love hunting “deer” It doesnt matter what size or sex. They all taste good! But it just seems that the hunting community as a whole is leaning toward “I have to shoot a big boy” in order to prove my hunting ability, no matter what the cost. It is getting to where the average guy “me” cant’ find a place to hunt because the properties are all leased out to Paying Customers. The sport as a whole has become more expensive. And the average guy has a hard time getting into the sport because of cost.

Maybe its just me but it seems to have gone this way since television started airing hunting programs. All the hosts are shooting giant bucks so that must be the norm… right? Maybe I am way off base but I just think that all the emphasis that is being put on taking large bucks is hurting our sport.

What do you think??

2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 11 Apr 2008

One spring day – 3 friends shooting outdoors.

Looking out the window of my office at the overcast and rainy grey day, (which dictates that I probably won’t be lucky enough to get out to my outdoor range spot to shoot today), I am ever so grateful that I had the chance to go out yesterday, for the better part of the day with my cousin and one of my oldest friends to shoot and laugh and tell stories in what will be remembered as a great day of archery.

The other evening, just as I’d returned from the Bow-Shop, my cousin James called me on the phone, I proceeded to tell him about the recent modifications to my Martin Saber, (the peep sight installation), and how I’d just tuned it up to 60lbs., having shot compound bows in the past himself he took great interest and was open to my invite to come out shooting the next morning, I offered him the use of one of my recurves, (a Ragim Victory 66″ takedown), and he accepted. Shortly thereafter one of my oldest friends, (Dirk), called and I asked him if he cared to join us with the Bear Cherokee (oldshool fiberglass camp bow, my first bow), that I’d recently loaned him and he too accepted. Now we had an archery party and the following morning the 3 of us, after a brief gear check we headed out to the trail to make our way to the range spot for a day of archery.

We measured out 3 distances and each of us, having somewhat different bows, took turns shooting from these spots, Dirk shot mostly from 10 – 15 yards, while James shot mostly from 15 and I spent my time honing my grouping from 20 yards all day. We all had good shots and bad, by the end of it all we were all shooting much better than we’d started out at the beginning of the day, we all broke arrows on rocks with arrows as can be expected shooting outdoors, but it was all worth the comraderie and stories and hours of fun we had honing our skills and making plans for the next year or so and how we’ll all become bow hunters soon.

All in all a great day was had by all, one that will lead to many more similar days of target shooting, 3D shooting and eventually we’ll become a bow hunting party. All because of a day of outdoor shooting one spring day and the greater meaning of sport – fun, friendship and personal improvement .

1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by Hyunchback on 11 Apr 2008

Another day of practice

Again I worked primarily on watching my shafts hit the target.

This may not seem special to others but I make no apologies for it. I wasn’t doing this before and it is very important to me today. It’s a new element to my form. I must not neglect it.

I lost another arrow today. My bow shoulder broke down at the same moment my release fired and the arrow went somewhere undiscovered. I’m down to 10 out of 12 shafts. As it was one of the remaining 4 that hadn’t lost their inserts I decided it was time to reduce all my remaining arrows to 32″. The shafts started out full length or around 32.5 inches.

Let’s examine why my form fizzled. This is, I suspect, due to my not yet being as strong as I need to be. I work strong and long on Tuesday and then Thursday is crap. Utter crap. Week after week.

The only reason I can figure out is that I have not yet recovered my shoulder muscles after Tuesday’s workout. I only get a minor workout with my walking stick on Sunday or Monday (If I go walking). Tuesday I’m rarin’ to go and may over-do it. Wednesday is a day of work and so Thursday is not the best. It’s a day for shooting so it’s not bad. Like pizza it’s not bad even when it’s not good.

It’s a day I get to go to the range and that’s not a bad thing.

A primary point, though, is to learn from form errors that I can pinpoint.

And to recognize what errors I’m eliminating. With the exception of fliers where the sights were not really on target as they should be I was eliminating inches from the left-right scattering.

It’s important to note that I’m claiming “eliminatING” not “eliminated”.

And it is important to note that I’m not trying to buy my way to perfection. Still the same bow. The same shafts (even if new inserts), the same sight and the same release. And the same shooter.

I’m getting better. That’s a good thing.

I’m no threat to the kings of 3D or 5 Spot or Vegas. Wish I were.

But I’ll outshoot my previous score in the archery league if we ever get another place to shoot for scores in the archery league.

This session, aside from the lost arrow, showed a SEVERE reduction in left-right scatter. I still have fliers that I am attributing to form flaws or imprecise aiming. But the majority of “good” shots are in a very narrow vertical impact column.

Now, why am I still having variations in my vertical distribution? The bow has a hard wall. I pull to it.

It’s possible that some of it is the imprecise sight picture.

What is important is that I have, minus fliers, reduced the left-right scatter of my groups at THIRTY yards.

Until recently I never shot past 20 yards.

Until recently I hadn’t been shooting bows at all.

I’m not regularly hitting a 30 yard target and could be hitting on the 40 yard target, twice my previous distance. Not yet as tight on groups as I feel I should be capable of but superior to my earlier efforts.

With just fiber optic pins for my sights.

The first monthly shoot will arrive on May 4, 2008. I expect to shoot better by then.

Since I completed practice with only 3 shafts still bearing inserts I decided to do arrow surgery before coming home.

I cut the extra half inch off the remaining shafts and tonight I cleaned and then epoxied new inserts into the shafts. Instead of Bohning’s Power Bond I’m using a 2 part epoxy called Two Ton Epoxy. Gold Tip rejects the use of hot glue on carbon shafts.

Without a measuring arrow I’m guessing that I’m currently set for 31″ on draw length. The bow mechanic had been required to change the BowTech Commander’s draw length radically over the previous owner’s draw length. I’m going to keep it at the 32″ mark for now as broadheads require some clearance.

My bow’s previous owner was over 12″ shorter than me. Not a put down of a man who is clearly a superior archer. Just a fact of our disparate heights.

2 votes, average: 2.50 out of 52 votes, average: 2.50 out of 52 votes, average: 2.50 out of 52 votes, average: 2.50 out of 52 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 09 Apr 2008

Spring, the time for practice and the pro shop

Hello sports fans,

In my last post I mentioned the difficulty of finding a place to shoot locally, (outdoors and legal according to the local by-laws in this part of Canada). My experiment was a success and I have found not one but several good places for shooting at some of the home made targets that I’ve made recently, (who says archery has to be expensive to get into). So after a morning of extensive scouting with the maps that I’d printed off from the by-law website on the discharge of firearms, (including bows and crossbows), for my local area, I easily found a few good spots, out of the way of passers by and hikers, where I could set up my targets and let some arrows fly.

What a great feeling, outside on a beautiful spring day enjoying my Martin and some Easton Lightspeed 400s. I enjoyed myself so much infact that after shooting probably a couple hundred arrows, straight ahead, at 20 / 30 / 40 yards and even greater distances, up hill, down hill and even through the brush, (just to make things interesting), my shooting was ok, but I noticed that my grouping was a little loose, so I had to go back to the shop today and have my bow tuned right up to it’s maximum draw weight and installed a peep sight for better accuracy.

While in the shop doing all this, during my test shots with the new peep sight, the fellow who owns the shop noticed my left hand position wasn’t optimal, my wrist was too high. Correcting the problem, I spent some time at the indoor range at the shop and immediately noticed that my grouping was tighter and my shot placement was much better almost like magic. I’m not sure if it’s my hand position or the new peep sight, probably the combination of the two together, but my shooting just jumped up a notch today and I’m really happy about it. It never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as a trip to the pro shop once and a while, with regular practice can really improve one’s skill level. Perhaps my new archery motto should be practice, practice, pro shop. 😉

I can’t wait to get out to the forest range tomorrow, some friends are coming out with me, I’ve agreed to loan them bows so that we can all enjoy some archery outdoors for the day with me, is there any better way to spend a spring day, while on one’s way to becoming a bow hunter.

Craig

4 votes, average: 2.00 out of 54 votes, average: 2.00 out of 54 votes, average: 2.00 out of 54 votes, average: 2.00 out of 54 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)
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Published by Hyunchback on 08 Apr 2008

An eye opening revelation

Literally.

Today as I practiced I was finally able to keep my eyes on the target as I fired. Partly by not squeezing my non-aiming eye fully closed, making it easier to watch the arrow all the way to the target.

This hardly ever happened before for me. It’s like a new portion of my form that I was finally able to bring into my shot sequence.

Literally. My groups tightened up. I resolved from that point to devote the rest of my session keeping my eyes on the arrows as they hit the target.

No, I didn’t magically turn into a threat to the 3D champions. I just found something that I’d been missing that was resulting in many, many random misses. It’s a wonder that my arrows ever hit the center. I was flinching.

3 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 53 votes, average: 2.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 2.33 out of 5)
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Published by Suttle1976 on 08 Apr 2008

A New Start At An Old Hobby

I was first bitten by the archery bug when I was 14 years old. Me and my best friend both got new bows one Christmas. I received a Hoyt Raider that I loved until someone told me it was considered “Youth”  bow. The bow was great but I was not a youth I 14 years old and knew everything.  I must have shot every day, in every spare minute for three years straight. I had that little bow cranked down all the way and was getting every bit of 60 pound out of it. My accuracy was dead on up to 40 yards and I could keep a pattern so tight that even the old guys that worked at the indoor range where we shot were impressed. AS time went on I meet a girl and she was the farthest thing from a “youth” model I had ever seen. So needless to say my bow shooting days slowly faded out. I always keep an interest in archery and would go take a look at the bows every time I was at the sporting goods store and told my self “One day”. So here I am 31 years old and that day has finally come. Oh but how things have changed. Technology has really pushed the sport to new levels and the bows that have evolved are highly tuned and can be adjusted to fit anyone and any type of shooting style. Even with all the changes the one thing that remains is the feeling you get when you shoot a bow and hit your mark. The total control, the fact that what you put into the bow is what you get out. I am sure that this is the same feeling that native Americans got when they shot their bows for food or just to shoot. Its not the type of bow or how fast it shoots or weather it is a “youth” model or not, these thing can help but the feeling is all the same from the youngster at summer camp who puts one in the yellow for the first time to the professional hunter taking down wild game season after season. Once you get that feeling weather for the first time or the hundredth time you know what archery is all about and why it has stood the test of time. So you will be happy to know that I bought a new bow last week and can’t wait to get out their and start shooting all over again.

2 votes, average: 3.50 out of 52 votes, average: 3.50 out of 52 votes, average: 3.50 out of 52 votes, average: 3.50 out of 52 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 07 Apr 2008

Two for two times two

A perfect fall 2006 morning saw me out with my nephew for a whitetail hunt.  My nephew, Jake, is an accomplished bowhunter who has harvested several deer and whom I feel safe and confident being in the woods with.  It appeared to be a great morning to be out and I was nervous with anticipation.  As the morning wore on, however, my anticipation turned to frustration as the woods seemed completely dead.  Not even the pesky squirrels were out and about.  Late in the morning, I decided to give Jake a call to set up a deer drive on the other end of the property.  Just as I was ready to dial his number, I saw two deer moving toward Jake’s stand.  Within seconds I heard the release of a bowstring and the sounds of chaos as the two deer bolted.  One headed directly toward me and got within about forty yards before slowing down.  Its beautiful head started to droop before it collapsed on the forest floor.  In a matter of seconds, a frustrating hunt had turned fruitful as my nephew had collected the first doe of the season.  To make things even better, Jake’s wife Janna was within days of delivering their firstborn, a beautiful baby girl who would be named Annie.  A freezer stocked with deer meat would do their young family a world of good.

The second doe had headed off a different direction but was circling back toward Jake’s doe.  Slowly it edged up to the doe and sniffed the arrow entry wound.  Then she raised her leg and kicked the dead doe three times as if trying to wake her up.  Seeing that the doe wasn’t going to move, the second doe began wandering away but closer to my location.  Within moments she was standing quartering away in an open shooting lane thirty two yards away.  My aim and release felt perfect but I heard a loud thud as the arrow sped toward the target.  My heart sunk as I thought I must have hit a previously undetected tree limb in mid-flight.  At the sound, the doe bolted away from me eliminating any ability to get a second shot.  As I watched her I noticed that her tail was held straight down rather than flagging alarm and I began to wonder if I had hit her after all.    In a few seconds I was astonished to see her go down, only about twenty five yards from the point of impact.  My legs got weak as I began to realize that my apparent miss was indeed dead on the mark and two freezers were going to be stocked with tender nutritious doe meat.

Fast forward to pre-rut 2007, and the deer hunting had been hard and frustrating.  The weather had been very uncooperative and EHD had thinned the herd earlier in the fall.  I had done my tree time and had enjoyed it for the most part but had yet to take a shot.  In fact, I had yet to see a buck of any time when I had a bow in my hand.

It was well before dawn when Jake and I slipped into our stands.  Jake was in a permanent stand that had been a proven performer over the past several years.  I had recently changed my stand location as the old location had seen next to no activity due to the drought.  I had little idea how the new location would pan out, but I knew the change was overdue and the activity raised my hopes.

As dawn arrrived, the chill of the morning was attacking me with full force.  Toes, ears and fingers were beginning to protest their suffering when I heard movement behind me.  Turning slowly I saw a yearling doe making her way within 5 yards of my tree.  Given the lack of results my season had seen so far, I was thinking about harvesting her when I noticed that she kept looking back over her shoulder.  Hoping she was looking for a trailing buck I let her go and she slowly moved on toward Jake’s stand.  Within seconds, more noise caught my attention and I turned to see a respectable eight pointer headed my way fast along the doe’s trail.  Knowing he was on a mission and wouldn’t slow down on his own, I doe called him but he didn’t notice.  As he ran practically right under my stand, I called again, this time much louder.  Again, he made no notice of me.  Knowing he would be out of range in mere seconds, I stood up and yelled “Stop”!  He slammed on the brakes and looked around trying to identify the sound.  As I swung the bow around to take aim, he headed off again in the direction of his potential mate.  I watched him disappear into the brush as I kicked myself for not doing more to stop him sooner.  A few minutes later the cell phone rang and Jake excitedly told me that he had just taken the eight pointer, his biggest to date.  He told me that we was actually ready to take the shot on the yearling doe when the buck caught up to her and he was able to swing around and take a good shot on the buck.  Less than fifty yards later the buck piled up and Jake’s season had taken a dramatic upward turn.

I was very excited for Jake and was happy that he had connected with the biggest so far, but was also letting myself get downhearted about my season.  I love being in the woods for any reason but not seeing many deer in my honey hole was taking its toll.  I continued survey the woods around when I noticed movement behind some trees to my right.  Slowly I figured out that is was an ear flipping and out walked one of the biggest does I have ever seen.  Her body looked every bit as big as the eight pointer and her long nose and sagging belly gave her away as one of the matriarchs of the woods.  She was slowly moving along the same path as the earlier deer had and would surely pass within feet of my tree.  My plan was to wait until she passed me and then stand to try to take a quartering away shot.  It seemed perfect until she saw my breath 18 feet up in the air!  I was shocked as she started stomping and blowing, alerting the entire woods to the trespasser in the tree.  Helplessly I sat as she passed the alert on throughout the woods.  If only I could have held my breath!  Finally she had seen enough and turned to trot away.  As she did, I stood and raised my bow in hopes of getting the shot.  About thirty yards away, she slowed down and turned to look back at me.  Luckily I was ready and the shot was true,  She bolted through the brush and ran approximately one hundreds yards, dead away from where my vehicle was parked, before going down.  As I sat back down, the reality of both of us scoring on the same day in the same woods two years in a row begin to sink in. 

As it turned out, Jake’s buck ran away from the vehicle as well but after a long, hard drag back to the truck we were both still giddy.  It turns out that my doe was at least five and a half years old and field dressed at 170 pounds.  A perfect deer to take from the herd.

The rest of the season turned out to be as frustrating as the first part except for me seeing the deer of my dreams in the final week of the season.  He was big bodied with a rack that was wide, massive and had too many points to count in our short meeting.  I will spend all of the off-season trying to get to know him better and on opening day I will be in a tree along one of his travel routes with my nephew Jake in another tree close by.  You can bet the farm on it.

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Published by csinclair on 07 Apr 2008

The Urban Archers Outdoor Range and ByLaws (CDN)

Hi Folks,

In order to become a better archer and bow-hunter one needs to be accurate, (practice, practice, practice comes to mind), shooting tight groups consistently from various distances under any weather conditions from any position, (sitting, standing, crouching, up-hill or down-hill), one needs to practice much and do so in an outdoor setting which mirrors the real hunting environment as closely as possible.

It’s always been a challenge for me personally to find an appropriate place to shoot like this due to the fact that I’m living in a Canadian urban area where the by-laws specifically state that one may ‘not’ discharge a firearm, (including a bow), as the discharge of firearms is disallowed in most areas within, (and around), city limits.

Recently I had a very informative discussion with a gentleman who was a local bow hunter as well as being very well versed in the local by-laws, (we started talking archery when he noticed my bow-shop hat), possibly because he is studying to become an RCMP officer as well, he really helped set me straight on the facts, which I’d like to pass along to any other new bow-hunters / archers who may also benefit from the information that he shared with me.

The tip that he shared with me was simple really, just do your homework and search the internet for the local by-laws, which I found quite easily, in particular the by-law that governs the discharge of ‘firearms’ which includes bows and crossbows. Included with the by-law that governs the discharging of ‘firearms’ in the areas surrounding the city limits is a map, which showed me the exact areas where I could, (and could not), legally set up a ad-hoc range for myself and shoot outside all summer, up hill down hill through some trees, crouching, standing etc…

I’ve since scouted the area and am going out today with my bow to do some shooting, I’ll post some pictures as soon as I’m able.

Happy shooting,

Craig

 

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