Crossbow Hunting………Why We Miss
When it comes down to it, crossbows are pretty easy to shoot. Take anybody off the street who has never shot a crossbow before and before too long, they will be hitting the target with some degree of accuracy. Now I know to master any skill, there is enormous amount of time that must go into it. But for the most part, shooting an arrow from a crossbow at a target, accurately at bowhunting distances, does not take a lot of practice. That being said. If crossbows are so darn easy to shoot, why is it that every year some hunters miss what they’re shooting at while hunting? I know from experience that there are many factors that can come into play that can cause a hunter to miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Almost every one of these factors is something that could have been prevented in the first place. In this article, we’ll take a look at common reasons some hunters end up missing their target while hunting. If you want to become a more successful crossbow hunter, you’re going to need to follow some of these steps. Doing so will insure a higher success rate the next time you enter the woods.
1.) Practice. Seems simple enough. But I can’t tell you how many hunters go into a store and buy a crossbow and think they are ready to hunt with it later that day. It’s sad I know. If you are going to hunt with any weapon, you need to practice with it. Even for you guys that shoot your crossbows all year long. How many of you are practicing shooting away from the bench? Setting your crossbow up on sand bags or in a gun vise doesn’t constitute practicing. Walk around your yard with your bow and shoot offhand from different angles and yardages. If you are going hunt while sitting, you should practice while sitting. The same holds true if you are standing while hunting. Practice the way you are going to hunt. This step alone would have most likely prevented most of the misses that hunters have experienced.
2.) Don’t assume your broadheads are gong to hit in the same spot as your field points do out of your crossbow. Many times they won’t. So you need to shoot a couple of your arrows with the same broadheads that you are going to hunt with, before you head out to the woods. You might find that a small sight adjustment will be required to your crossbow scope. Or you might find you are nowhere close to hitting the same spot as your field points. But if you don’t find out before you go hunting and miss, you won’t know if the reason you did miss was you or your broadheads not flying well.
3.) Clear some shooting lanes. Crossbows are not guns. Even the smallest branch can deflect an arrow enough to miss your target. Don’t try to force a shot though brush. Hopefully you know where you are going to be hunting before season begins. Get out there with a friend and clear some shooting lanes. Make sure to take note at how far certain trees or landmarks are. This will help you in judging the distance when an animal suddenly appears in front of you and you don’t have time to range it.
4.) Don’t shoot past the distance you are comfortable shooting at. I was guilty of doing this when I was a young hunter. I was well practiced out to a certain yardage with my crossbow. But if an animal came in and it was ten yards further, I tried the shot. Every time I either missed or got a bad hit. I know it can be the hardest thing in the world to let an animal walk that is just out of range. But pick your maximum shot distance and stick to it. Doing so will force you to take higher percentage shots, in the end, making you a more successful crossbow hunter.
5.) Try not to get too excited. One of the biggest reasons some hunters miss is because they get overwhelmed with excitement. Excitement is good. I know the feeling I get right before I pull the trigger of my crossbow is one of the reasons I keep gong back in the woods. Try to keep it under control as best as possible. Focus on making a good shot and not where your arrow went. Don’t aim at the deer or animal you are hunting. Pick a particular spot or tuft of hair to aim at. Remember, aim small, miss small.
6.) Study the animals you are going to be hunting. You should know where the vitals are located for proper shot placement. Be able to read the body language of the animals you hunt. Know what they look like when they’re relaxed and know how they act when they are nervous. Nervous animals have a sixth sense about them. This aids them in being able to somehow miraculously get out of the path of an arrow better than you would think. Try shooting animals when they are calm and relaxed.
7.)Use the correct crosshair in your crossbows scope. I don’t know if this is a common mistake with new crossbow hunters or just an excuse they use when they miss. But I have heard the story “I used the wrong crosshair” more times than I can remember. For the most part bowhunting is a slow paced sport. The animals are normally calm and relaxed. Take your time and make sure you are aiming with the correct crosshair for the range you are shooting at.
8.) Use a shooting aid. If you aren’t steady enough to hold your crossbow offhand, than by all means use a shooting aid of some sort. There a ton of monopods, bipods, and tripods available for helping you steady your crossbow. Almost any of the ones made for a gun will work. Chances are you already own one. If you think you may need it. take it in the woods with you. It’s better to have it and not use it, then need it and not have it.
9.) Don’t try to look for your arrow the moment you shoot your crossbow. Many hunters get excited and the instant they pull the trigger, there head comes away from the stock, and they try to look for their arrow. Doing so will prevent you from following through with your shot. Also, subconsciously if your brain is telling your head to move to look for the arrow, it cannot be focusing on executing a good shot. Make sure to follow through after the shot.
10.) Make sure it’s light enough to shoot your crossbow. Many times in the woods, especially early season when the leafs are still on the trees, it gets too dark to shoot, even though it may still be legal time to shoot. If you cannot clearly see the crosshairs in your scope, or the animal you are trying to shoot at, don’t shoot your crossbow. Again, this is a story I often hear back at hunting camps when someone shoots a deer and can’t find it. The questions is always “where did you hit it?” The answer always seems to be “I couldn’t tell.” If it’s too dark to shoot, get out of the woods. The worst thing you could do is to shoot at an animal and not know if you hit it, or where you hit it because it was too dark.
The items discussed above are only some of the reasons we as crossbow hunters can miss while hunting. What I tried to do is take the most common excuses that I’ve heard over the years, and combine them with almost 25 years of bowhunting experience, to make up a list that will help those of you that are new to the sport of crossbow hunting. Will following these steps prevent you from ever missing while hunting with a crossbow? No. But if you are aware of some of the common reasons hunters miss, you can do your best to try and eliminate them before they happen to you. Good luck to you in the upcoming hunting season. No go practice with your crossbow!!!
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