Archery season is knocking on the door and I'm mainly shooting bareshafts

Importance of bareshaft practice for hunting

Taking a different approach to perfect practice before hunting season. All photo credits: Brady Miller

If I took a poll on what people are doing right now shooting wise to prepare for the bowhunting season, I know we’d hear mixed results. The most common answer would either be sighting in, practicing long-range groups, tuning for broadheads and, maybe, even building a new bow.

It’s safe to suggest that not many people would say they are shooting bareshafts in preparation for their archery hunt. Well, I’ll raise my hand because that is what I do 75% of the time right now. Even though my first archery tag opens Aug. 15, I’ve been shooting a lot of bareshafts the past two months to really up my practice time.

So what am I actually talking about when it comes to bareshaft practice?

A little caveat: we are all busy in life and, sometimes, where you might live it just isn’t feasible to shoot in your backyard at groups past 20 yards and the range or best place to toss a target out might be 30 minutes away. So, with that said, this is why I have always incorporated a different practice technique that has always helped me tremendously. That is bareshaft shooting at close distances.

When you shoot a bareshaft arrow out of a bow, everything needs to be perfect. Your form must be dialed, all of your anchor points have to be solid and repeatable, your shot execution must be perfect and your bow has to be properly tuned.

If any of those areas are not in check, then I’m afraid to say that your bareshaft arrow will not go in the intended direction.

There are a plethora of tuning methods out there. If you want to dive deeper on tuning your bow and, specifically, bareshaft tuning, I suggest you read these articles: The well-tuned hunting bow and What does it really mean to “tune” your bow.

Practice you can do in your garage

Bareshaft archery practice in garage

A common theme in my garage shooting at 6 feet or all the way to the back of my garage. Without fletchings... it makes it challenging to hit the string in the dead center.

My favorite method of increasing my practice time is to shoot bareshafts in my garage in the morning before work and then in the afternoon after work. Back in 2015, I talked about my 5:10:30 routine that incorporated bareshaft shooting. What this means is practicing at least five days a week at less than 10 yards for a total of 30 minutes.

Always remember that repetition builds strength and accuracy in archery. You don’t need a fancy range to improve your groups. But you do need to practice effectively.

Archery bareshaft at string

To make it even more challenging, I like to take a piece of thin string (serving material works best) and I will attach it to the top of the target with a nail and then hang some small weights from a stabilizer on the bottom.

As stated earlier, shooting bareshafts is a great way to practice form and shot execution because everything needs to be perfect to get a bareshaft to hit where you are aiming.

Yes, shooting at close distance might seem pretty boring. But, like I said in my 2015 article, “You won’t be able to post cool photos on archery forums or social media of sub 2” groups at 60 plus yards...but you don’t have to prove to anyone that you are a great shot. The time for “showing off” is posing with that dream buck you shot because of your off season discipline.”

Taking bareshaft practice outdoors

Bareshaft practice at distance

The next step is shooting bareshafts at further distances. I will shoot bareshafts next to my fletched arrows at 20, 30 and 40 yards. This is where I really know how my shooting is going. And remember: during this stage I already have my bow tuned perfectly, so my bareshafts are hitting with my fletched arrows.

Bareshaft practice at 40 yards

I will still shoot bareshafts at the range and even shoot them at 40 yards like in the above photo.

Fletchings help guide the arrow and can mask some form and shot execution inconsistencies. This is why I always have a few bareshafts in my quiver when at the range.

In conclusion

While there are a plethora of methods to help you get ready for the season, this is just one of the ways that keeps me in shooting shape and allows me to practice all of the little things. After all, once you have your bow turned perfectly, your pins or yardage marks dialed in and, if you’re comfortable on the mental side of archery, theoretically, a 70 yard shot at a standing target is the same as a 20 yard shot.

It is definitely good to supplement close range bareshaft practice with some time at the range, but if you are pressed for time, you can still do things each day that will make you a better shot. After all, a giant portion of archery is mental preparation and repetition.

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