Shooting Tips From Joel Maxfield
Deer season is here and soon bowhunters will be posting their success photos on social media. Some bowhunters will be posting about the one that got away. Let’s face it: if you have bowhunted long, chances are you have probably missed an animal you have shot at or hit it and never recovered it. It happens. It is part of bowhunting. That said, there are plenty of things bowhunters can do to decrease the odds of making a bad shot. Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery spends more time shooting bows and testing bows in the field under real world conditions than almost anyone out there. I asked Joel to give me a few tips to help bowhunters reduce the odds of making a bad shot in the field.
For starters, Maxfield believes we all need to look in the mirror. “Mistakes happen in the field and most of the time the mistakes made have very little to do with our equipment,” Maxfield said. “Bowhunters like to blame the broadhead, the bow sight, the arrow rest, or the arrows. Most of the time these things do not fail. Most of the time, the bowhunter makes a mistake of some type. We can never eliminate mistakes completely, but we can reduce the odds of making mistakes by fine tuning our equipment and shooting regularly before and during the bow season.”
Maxfield recommends that every bowhunter shoots often during the summer leading up to bow season. “Shooting multiple times a week or every day if a guy has time is a must. This allows the bowhunter to work out any issues with their bow setup or their shooting form. If a peep sight isn’t rotating properly, get it fixed. If your arrows aren’t flying true, determine the reason. If your broadheads are flying different than your field points, determine the problem. Don’t wait until the day before season to figure out these problems. Many people never fix the problem and head into the woods anyway. A hunter who makes sure his bow is shooting darts has a far better chance of filling tags.”
Equipment isn’t the only thing that gets ignored. Many bowhunters have problems with their shooting form and fail to fix it. “I suggest every bowhunter have a friend record them shooting their bow from a variety of angles so they can see with their own eyes if there is something wrong with their form,” Maxfield noted. “Many bowhunters having issues with punching the trigger on their release or dropping their arm as they shoot. Seeing it in a video will help them realize they have the problem so they can work on fixing it.”
Another thing every bowhunter should do is shoot their bow at yardages far beyond what they would shoot in the field. “I tell bowhunters all the time to shoot at 60-80 yards or more if they want to take 30 or 40 yard shots in the field. A bowhunter who can keep his arrows in a small group at 80 has a better chance of filling tags than someone who shoots at 30 yards in the backyard and in the field,” Maxfield said.
There is a theory among many bowhunters that 10% of bowhunters kill 90% of the game. The reason that statement is probably true is because 10% of the bowhunters take shooting accurately seriously. They put in the time in the backyard and on the range to make sure that when a deer walks in front of them, they can make the shot.
Bowhunters can’t control what a deer, elk or bear is going to do in the field. Mistakes can and will happen. What a bowhunter can control is how accurately they shoot. Accuracy is the most important aspect of archery. Those who work hard to fine tune their bow setup and put the time into shooting will likely fill more tags.