Heck, if I were just lucky enough to be a bowhunter all these wonderful years, I suppose that would provide more than adequate celebratory fodder for my mystical flight of the arrow American Dream.
But crazy, lucky, lucky me, my bowhunting life is anything but simply personal, isolated and secretive, for as I go about my daily life’s business, no matter where that might take me, my love for the sport is emphasized and fortified by people approaching me everywhere I go to talk bowhunting!
At the gas station, grocery store, feedmill, hardware store, car wash, car dealer, sushi bar, coffee shop, music store, dentist office, or even yesterday at the University of Michigan Medical Center having a routine procedure for us old guys, everyone wants to talk killer guitar licks, rock-and-roll, gunrights and bowhunting.
And I am more than enthusiastic to join in and let er rip!
Many such conversations erupt with genuine interest on how to get started with the bow and arrow.
Having spent a lifetime learning from trial and error, (heavy on the error) I just might very well be as good a guy as there is to offer such introductory advice to best equip the newcomer on how to avoid the extensive list of anticipated mistakes that every new archer/bowhunter will face.
The general question; “how do I get started?”, is a doozy, but keeping it real and simple is always the best initial guidance.
My first response is always; go slow!
Though some lucky individuals will pick up on archery rather quickly, even for those so naturally gifted they would always do better taking it slow and easy into the world of bowhunting.
Since the most stealthy, effective bowhunting demands slow and easy, such a mantra will be beneficial to all practitioners.
The first steps to slow and easy, include a draw weight bow that is graceful and effortless that fits the archer properly, that is fun to shoot often, with arrows that also match the draw weight and draw length of the individual shooter.
This basic science of physics applies to longbows, recurves and compound bows, and all various arrow design, in order for consistent arrow flight and accuracy to actually be optimized.
My next slow and easy advice is to shoot at a large, safe target at very closerange, say around 12-15 feet to the target.
The goal here is to discover and develop a natural hand-eye coordination and archery ergonomic feel comfort level that does not impede instinctive archery form development, as the accuracy level will come slowly but surely as the range of the shots increases, slowly but surely.
Each step of the way is dramatically advanced with the assistance of an experienced fellow archer with enough knowledge to guide and point out basic archery form, procedure and shot sequence.
The beginning phase is the ultimate time to learn things correctly so as to avoid frustrating damage control on otherwise bad habits.
Mercy, does that ring any bells with anyone?
In fact, as we throttle through the craziness of 2021 madness in gleeful it not downright hyper anticipation for the upcoming season, even us old dyed in the wool, long in the tooth, lifetime bowhunters would do well to harken back to our origins to review the best and most basic archery possible and exorcize the demons of any bad habits we may have, and most likely have developed over time.
Only after honing the introductory basics are we then able to functionally move forward to the ultimate samurai sub-conscious, thought free purity that is the goal of being one with the flight of the arrow.
Another point I emphasize with the newcomer is the importance of shooting at game in natural field conditions, for archery may appear to be a simple physical flex, when faced with wildlife and the mindset to kill, the psychological hurdles we face are new and confusing at first, and mostly to some degree, forever.
Where legal, shoot at that squirrel, woodchuck and other furbearers and varmints to get the reasoning predator mind right.
Shooting game besides deer or other big game not only brings the whole, beautiful bowhunting picture into focus, these critters just happen to be delicious too.
There is much, much more to consider beyond the gear and overall archery preparation. Again, making friends at the local archery shop or sporting goods store will go a long way in finding good ground to hunt, and quite honestly, it is this bowhunting family connection that is both enjoyable and inspirational in this greatest of sports.
Join your local archery/bowhunting club. Be prepared to enjoy and hone the sport all year long.
You will soon discover why we are all so crazy passionate about this timeless connection to God’s miraculous creation as actual participants instead of mere spectators.
As the great Fred Bear emphasized over and over again, when we go afield with the correct mindset, respecting the wildlife and our natural role with it, we will experience a spirit that will cleanse the soul!