June 25, 2015
As the Fourth of July begins to approach, thoughts about fall bowhunting seasons for antelope, elk, mule deer and whitetails are soon to follow.
With the first such bow seasons less than two months away in some states, it's now time to get serious about preparation and practice for 2015-16 archery seasons.
Before going out and shooting 100 arrows a day in a rush to get ready, Outdoor Channel television personality Lee Lakosky cautions archers to seek small sessions of perfect practice versus hours on the range spent haphazardly flinging high-speed arrows at a 3-D target.
"We shoot all of the time," said Lee, who along with wife Tiffany hosts the program Crush with Lee and Tiffany. "But you have to be smart about it."
In addition to limiting the number of arrows they shoot each day during the summer months, they also shun the high-poundage speed-bow game that many archers endorse.
"I don't shoot excessive (draw) weights," said Tiffany. "I might go up to 60 pounds occasionally, but normally I shoot 55 pounds with a 24 ½-inch draw length.
"That setup works great too," she added. "I've had a few elk kills with that setup and my last two mule deer, which were taken at 60 yards, had the arrow zip right through them like they weren't even standing there.
"I'm concerned with accuracy (in my shooting), not speed and poundage."
Husband Lee agrees, "The goal is to put the broadhead into the boiler room. If you do so, even if only half of the arrow goes in, you've got a dead animal at 20 yards or so.
"I don't shoot anything radical with my Mathews bow. I just want to shoot well. My bow isn't super fast when compared to some other people's setups, but it is accurate. And an accurate arrow is so much more deadly than a fast arrow."
In addition to having an accurate bow, for Lee, it's also about limiting the wear and tear on the body that shooting high speed, heavy poundage bows can inflict over time.
"As you get older, you see a lot of guys shooting leagues and tournaments (in the offseason months) and taking a lot of shots," said Lee. "Sometimes, those guys end up having shoulder problems and that's not something I want to deal with.
"I want to be sheep hunting at 70."
In addition to dialing down the poundage, the mayor and first lady of Crushville practices for their fall bowhunting campaigns from the western U.S. to Canada and back home to their Iowa backyard by leaving their bows handy as they go throughout a day so that a few shots can be taken at an elk 3-D target that sits downrange of their front porch.
"We don't shoot for hours on end, but we do shoot all summer long by shooting a few arrows every day at long distances," said Lee. "We hardly ever shoot at less than 100 yards after we get the bow dialed in at 20 yards, 30 yards, etc."
Why is that?
"When you make five or six shots at 100 yards, it magnifies every little flaw and wiggle in your shooting form and release," said Lee. "It helps you make sure that every shot counts."
That's vitally important since an errant shot now does nothing more than go into a neighboring wheat field versus an errant shot in the fall that results in a complete miss on the buck or bull of a lifetime. Or even worse, causing a poor hit on an animal that is eventually lost.
"If something is a little off (in terms of bow set-up and shooting form), I might still make a reasonable shot at 20 yards and think that it's good," said Lee. "But at 100 yards, if something is a little out of whack, I might miss the target by four feet."
Lee is quick to point out that he isn't advocating such extreme range shooting distances for actually hunting an animal this fall.
"It's not that you want to shoot at an animal at 100 yards," he said. "But when you're able to consistently put arrows into the kill zone at that distance, it makes you such a better shooter at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards, yardages that are commonly known as whitetail and western big game distances."
As the summer months deepen, Lee and Tiffany will begin to dial up the intensity and length of their practice sessions.
"We shoot all summer long, a few arrows at a time, focusing on longer shots," said Lee. "But when we get to August, we start to ramp things up a bit by shooting realistic shots on a 3-D course we set up at our house.
"We'll finish getting ready for fall hunting trips by shooting a little bit more seriously for an hour or so in the evening."
With such a summer bow shooting routine in place, Lee and Tiffany, one of Outdoor Channel's power couples, are dialed in and ready to go at the start of hunting season without any undue wear and tear on their shoulders while still achieving solid shooting form that is consistently stacking arrows into the 10-ring.
And doing that now in the heat of summer is a tremendous investment on a BBD (Big Buck Down) moment later this fall.
"This routine makes you a better shot faster," said Lee. "When you shoot at longer distances throughout the summer months, everything has to be perfect (in terms of bow setup and shooting form).
"And over time, your groups will tighten up, even at greater distances. And by the end of the summer, your groups will be small and tight and you'll be ready for hunting season."