As summer progresses I am sure that like many of you, the thoughts are of the upcoming hunting season that will soon be here. We disabled archer’s face the same obstacles in that hunting season requires us to get our equipment and ourselves into ‘hunting’ shape. Are you ready for the physical rigors and effort needed? Now is the time to get your bow out and start flinging some arrows!
If you are like most of us you know now is the time to start a physical and mental conditioning program. Pick up your bow and practice holding it “up” in the shooting position. After a long summer you need to rebuild your muscles to hold the bow for long periods to make the shot.
If you hunt, as I do, with a crossbow, you know cocking the crossbow requires a different set of muscles so you need to do some exercises to get your strength back. If you use a hand cranking device you will need to work on adding arm strength so you can handle the job of cocking the bow. The best way to get ready for the season is, of course, go out and shoot a few arrows each day. You don’t need to have a marathon practice, just five to seven shots to help get into shape.
After you have built up your strength you can extend the practice sessions. Don’t get into a rut and shoot the same exact distance over and over. When hunting you know the animals don’t always stop at your desired location. Do not be afraid to practice shooting at longer ranges even if you would never shoot an animal that far. If you are comfortable shooting 25 yards and 35 yards seems a stretch, practice shooting 50 yards. You will be surprised that once you start hitting the 50 yard target, 25 yard will seem like a chip shot. Also vary your ranges. You need to know the differences between 20 to 25 or 25 to 30 yards.
Sometimes even a three yard difference can result in a bad shot so challenge yourself. Set up your targets with some obstacles to shoot around. Not all deer come in and stand broadside in the open. Practice shooting around brush and trees and at different angles to get that true hunting experience.
One of the hardest parts of getting prepared for the hunting season is the mental conditioning. Many plans must be made ahead of time to ensure a safe and successful hunting season. This is where as the old saying goes” The Mind Is Strong But The Body is Weak” comes to play. We all may have a strong desire to hunt but sometimes uncertain as to how we can accomplish this goal. That is why planning ahead can make a big difference. Make a list of equipment that you may need and check it off before you ever head to the field. If you are on special medications make sure you have a specific container in your hunting equipment to place them. If you are going to be out overnight it will be essential that you have all your medications and any medical supplies with you. I always take a few extra just in case of some unforeseeable circumstance.
If you hunt alone you must also be prepared for any changes in the weather. Foul weather gear is a must for the disabled hunter who may not be able to move and set up as quickly as other hunters. Then there is also the chance that you might get lucky and shoot an animal. Do you have someone you can contact that can help in the recovery process? You will also need to have someone that is aware of where you are and when you plan to return. This is where a cell phone is your best asset. Try hunting with a partner that fully understands your situation and this will help relieve a lot of tension and stress so you can enjoy the hunt. Remember to be very open and honest about yourself so your partner can handle any physical or emotional problems that might arise.
As a disabled hunter there is no need to be afraid or worried about your next hunting adventure if you have a very concise and well planned, thought out plan As the Boy Scouts have always preached… “ Always Be Prepared”,…. follow this and you should have a safe and hopefully successful outdoor experience. Enjoy the hunt !