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On the range…finally

The great fervor of new activities and interests sparks not only my imagination but is a constant assault on my being. The decision to arrive to archery with the intention of bowhunting has been a journey. My obsession with eating quality food, the environmental impact of our current food production model has slowly led me to this point. I come from a family of non-hunters and I think when I shared this news specifically with my mother there was a hint of mild disbelief that I have what it takes to kill. She might be right and only I will know in that exact moment when I’m face to face with a wild game animal if I can release an arrow into flight. My father is one of those who thinks all wild animals taste ‘gamey’ so if and when the time comes for me to serve up some venison to him, I just won’t tell him and hope that I prepared the meat in the best way possible.

Two weeks ago I picked up my first ever bow, a Mission Riot. It’s the step up from the Craze yet fully adjustable in both the draw length and draw weight, so if my son ever decides that archery is something he wants to pursue when he gets older I can pass this along to him. A week after I brought my Riot home I headed out with my good friend, who is a bow hunter, to the range to begin the tuning and sighting in process on my bow. We set up on the range and I focused in on the 20yd target and started releasing arrows. My groupings for the most part where close together, but not dead center, so we started making adjustments…then the Cascadian rains started falling. We stayed out on the range for a bit longer, as thats the real conditions I may face in the field. Once I was throughly soaked I packed up and headed home to the family to celebrate my birthday.

Some things I learned on the range:
1. I expected my right arm, which is my draw arm to be more tired than my left and in fact my left arm, bow holding arm, was more fatigued. Near the end of my practice session my 20 yard pin was really floating around and I found myself just waiting for the pin to cross over the bullseye and then I released the arrow. Which I now realize is not smart, so I will be working on that when I’m on the range.
2. I struggle to see the arrow in flight, and in my state lighted nocks are illegal in a hunting situation. Therefore I want to learn to follow through with my arrows without the illuminated nock. Any tips on how to ‘see’ the arrow in flight is welcomed.
3. The point of trigger release is unexpected and surprising to me. I’m betting that it’s like driving a stick shift the first time, it’ll just take time with the bow to find that moment when the arrow is fired. I just need to put more time in on the range.
4. Finding the proper mechanics of holding the bow, lining up to my anchor point and releasing the trigger is still awkward and surprising, but a rush too, so I realize that this is just going to take time on the range. I’m in a period of knowledge and learning and this is all very exciting.

I’m lucky that there are about 5 ranges within a 45min drive of my home, so over time I’m sure I’ll go to check them all out and see what other shooting situations I can put myself into. In the meantime, I am going to spend my attention on 20 yards and more specifically my mechanics and fundamentals of shooting.