A couple weeks and a half hour from now I’ll be doing that swish-thwack thing again on a regular basis.
I dusted off the 2003 Hoyt RazorTec, literally, and took it to Ty Dameron at Archery Outpost for a new string, tune-up and new vibration dampeners (biodegradable!) on Tuesday.
I think it has been about seven years since I opened that bow case.
Not to worry, traditional archery friends, I still refuse to give up on my stick bow endeavors. “Back to the trainin’ wheels,” I can hear it now. But I like being versatile, and isn’t using a bow that’s old enough to hold a driver’s license almost “traditional?”
OK, yeah, I know it’s not.
Archery season is just around the corner, believe it or not. Folks who aren’t infected with deer hunting might think it’s crazy that people are sitting at work on 100-degree days in the middle of July thinking about food plots, trail cameras, bow strings and broadheads. But if bowhunters aren’t thinking about this, they should be.
July is archery shop month because now is when the bows start stacking up for fixes, tune-ups, parts swaps and you-name-its. When I walked into the Outpost on Tuesday, there were 20 bows waiting in front of mine. By the time I left, there were four more in line behind it.
The lines at any shop get longer from here on out, until archery seasons open Oct. 1. If you’re heading north for elk or mule deer in late August or September, you’re already behind the curve.
“It’s the guys who bring them in the last of September and want them back for opening day that ...,” Dameron let a head-shake finish the thought.
Walking in the shop behind me came Derrick Hulsey. He’s the guy who gave me the idea for the extra half hour to add on to my two-week wait.
The local owner of M&D’s Trees had booked Dameron for a half-hour one-on-one training session on his shooting technique that evening.
The chainsaw wielder wants to cut down some bucks with efficiency this season. From what I saw, he’s already plenty lethal. He said he just wants to get better.
“I want to shoot those golf ball-sized groups,” he said. The tighter the group at 20 yards, the tighter and more confidence you have at 40 or 60, he said. Makes sense to me.
Having not lifted that old Hoyt for some time, it would be smart for me to start off right this season, so I’ll book some time with Dameron, too.
Hulsey’s shooting session in the range upstairs at the Outpost included some fine-tuning on readjusted sights, but much of it focused on basics that a lot of us may think about when we’re first learning but fade with time and overconfidence.
Dameron has been a competitive shooter from the time he was a tyke — he reminded me that I followed him and some friends around a 3D course for a story about nine years ago. He is a top-notch competitor and instructor.
He flatly said, “give me a half hour with anyone and they can improve.”
Working with Hulsey, Dameron focused a great deal on his grip, a consistent set for shooting and a smooth release.
Stance, grip, set and release are kind of what it comes down to as the basics for anyone. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
I could see that Hulsey did have kind of a chainsaw grip on that riser to begin with. He loosened his fingers and found a consistent spot on the ball of his thumb to anchor his hold and it really made a difference.
It was interesting as an observer to focus on his hand movements and release and see the difference downrange. It was almost predictable when he let a tack-driver fly. Just to be clear, though, he was never off by more than a few inches. This was fine-tuning.
That should be the goal. Plenty of shooting and fine-tuning gets your muscle memory in tune with your equipment and that adds up to an ethical shot and a better experience in the woods when it comes down to the moment of truth.
Dameron added one other important tip: “Keep practicing.”
“What happens a lot is when they get into deer season they’ll stop practicing,” he said. “So then they’ll go out and shoot and miss the buck of a lifetime and then they come in and find out their bow is off. They hit it on a branch or something at some point or something happened and they just didn’t know it. So just practice, and keep practicing and always keep checking your equipment.”
Archery hunting: Do it early, do it often, and there ya go.