July 31, 2014
By Lynn Burkhead, OutdoorChannel.com
For some hunters, it might seem like this fall's bowhunting campaigns are still a ways off.
But the reality is that the first bowhunting seasons for whitetails are barely a month away in some states, and a few seasons for Western big game are even closer than that.
Add in the fact that a couple of powerful July cold fronts – it was 44 degrees this week in Ann Arbor, Mich. – have turned down the thermostat in much of the nation.
All of this means that it is little surprise to learn that the bowhunters are getting a bit antsy, not to mention busy rolling into their local archery pro shops.
"Things have really started picking up the last few days," said Orvie Cantrell, Jr., owner and operator of Big O's Archery Shop in Sherman, Texas.
"Usually, when we get past the Fourth of July, things start picking up anyway. But having a 60-degree day like we did here in North Texas last week sure didn't hurt anything."
Why should a bowhunter think of heading into his local pro shop? Cantrell indicates that there are several reasons.
"Unless you got a new bow earlier this year, it pays to take a look at your strings and cables," said Cantrell. "And if you need those replaced, now is the time to get that done."
Why? Cantrell explains: "You need to get it done now since it generally takes a couple of hundred shots for the string to stretch out, for peep rotation to settle in, and for any hiccup on a bow to show itself."
Cantrell said that most archers typically shoot " ... only 20 or 30 shots after work a couple of times a week as summer begins to wind down."
At that pace, the bow shop proprietor said that some problems might not surface until right about the time hunting season opens.
By then, it could be very difficult to get a problem fixed since archery shops will be swamped with last minute business.
"In addition to checking the strings and cables, now is the time to check the tuning of a bow, to see if the rest needs any adjustment, to see if the bow's timing is good, etc.," said Cantrell. "It's also the time to get new arrows cut or to have older ones refletched and to see if there is any problem with broadhead flight out of a particular setup."
But issues with the bow itself are only one thing that a local pro shop can help with. Cantrell says that most shops, his included, can help a bowhunter spot and fix flaws in an archer's shooting form.
"Most guys have some shooting form flaws," he said. "It can be from bad habits picked up to never having learned how to shoot properly to just forgetting a few things after the spring and summer layoff."
Cantrell and his son, Orvie Cantrell III, pointed to a recent experience where a customer had bought a new bow last year, shot it perfectly then, and then all of a sudden couldn't hit anything with it as he started shooting this year.
"He came by our shop and there was nothing wrong with his bow," said Cantrell, Jr. "So we took a look at his shooting form and quickly noticed that he had a couple of things wrong with his head position and hand position.
"We got him to adjust that and he started hitting dead on again and we never even touched his bow."
Which goes to prove Cantrell's point.
"Shooting form is a lot like a golf swing; the smallest things can make a big difference in the final outcome," he said. "And generally, it takes someone else to help us discover those small flaws in our form."
Such performance can mean everything in the world to the biggest weapon that an archer carries into the field – his or her confidence in their own shooting ability.
"There is a tremendous psychological aspect to shooting a bow well," said Cantrell III. "By coming in now, we can help a bowhunter get his equipment issues ironed out and his shooting form ironed out in a non-rushed environment.
"You don't want to try and get those things fixed with the clock ticking; it doesn't help you shoot better when the pressure is mounting and the season is looming."
Should a shooter's form be off, many shops offer private shooting lessons in their indoor range. Usually, a brief shooting session or two is all that is necessary to get a bowhunter's form back into order.
Another reason that it is important to visit your local pro shop now instead of later is that hunters need to get their bows ready.
Why? Because they also need to get their bodies ready too.
"People forget that conditioning – drawing a bow back smoothly, holding it steady through the shot cycle, etc. – comes into play," said Cantrell, Jr. "Now is the time to start using those muscles you haven't used in months, developing strength in them, and building that muscle memory that you need when it comes time to draw on a buck this fall."
Need a final reason to visit a pro shop soon? Do it now to beat the rush says Cantrell Jr.
"Right now, the time frame to get something fixed and taken care of in our shop is from a few minutes to a couple of days," he said. "But as we get closer and closer to the season, business will continue to pick up and wait times will increase."
In other words, don't show up two or three days before the 2014-15 bowhunting season begins and expect a miracle to happen in your local shop.
So what's the moral of this tale?
Simply this: Even if the thermometer threatens to reach triple digits during the dog days of late July, forget the heat, start thinking about the upcoming fall hunting seasons and get to your local archery pro shop ASAP.
Doing that now can help to ensure that drawing back and successfully arrowing a record book buck or bull a few weeks from now is nothing more than a piece-of-cake formality.