By Connor O’Malley
Bow hunting games are a ton of fun! The best way to practice a skill, in my opinion, is to make a game out of it. With a skill like archery and bow-hunting, practice is of utmost importance. You may not get more than one shot during hunting season so it needs to count. Repetition is key so that when the time comes, there is no question about where the arrow will land.
Here are 10 tips and bow hunting games that you can use to keep things fun and to continue honing your skills.
1. Blank hay bale. If it’s been a while since you’ve shot your bow, start with a blank hay bale. Don’t worry about where the arrow lands, just practice shooting the exact same way every time. Draw the same way and be sure to release the arrow from an exact anchor point (like the corner of your mouth) every time. Once you’ve shot several hundred arrows without a target, put one on the hay bale and see how you do.
2. Shooting from all different positions. Hide behind trees, shoot through limbs/brush, run back and forth to get heart rate up then shoot. If you’ll be hunting from a deer stand, be sure to practice from one, or at least up high above the target.
3. 3-D targets are a great way to get used to shooting at real-life animals. You might be able to find cheap 3-D targets on e-bay or Craigslist. The only downfall with 3-D targets is that they will likely damage a stone point if you are hunting with stone-tipped arrows. A loosely packed hay-bale is the best practice target for a stone-tipped arrow.
4. Tournaments are great for practice under pressure. There is no greater pressure than an open shot at a deer in season. Tournaments are fun and may simulate a sense of pressure that will be valuable to you during the true pressures of hunting season.
5. Shooting at the edge of a target. It is less comfortable to aim at the edge of a hay bale than the middle. It forces you to really focus and put the effort into each shot because if you don’t, you may lose an arrow! Instead of placing your target in the middle of the bale, try placing it near the edge.
6. Horse. This may be the most fun bow hunting game to play with a friend. Pick a target and a way of shooting at it. If you hit the target then your opponent has to do the same. If he or she misses, then they get an “H”. If you miss the target then it is your opponent’s turn to choose a shot and your turn to match it. The first person to have spelled the word “horse” looses. This can be played shooting at a hay bale but it is more dynamic when played roving through the woods.
7. Fasting for a missed shot. Here’s another way to simulate pressure and ignite our true hunting instincts. Put on all your hunting gear, choose a target the size of a deer’s kill zone, and shoot one arrow. If you miss, then you miss dinner that night or you don’t eat the following day (depending on your comfort with fasting).
8. Tic-tac-toe. The first person to hit each square claims it, and the first person to have three squares in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally wins the game. Best played on a piece of cardboard secured to a hay bale.
9. Flying targets. Have a friend toss targets in front of a hay bale and practice hitting them in mid-air. Apples are a fun target for this game.
10. Padded-arrow Capture the Flag. I’ve saved the best for last. This game is the most fun with 20 people who all have bows and arrows. You’ll need to make your arrows safe by balling up a sock and securely duct-taping it onto the tip of the arrow. Be sure there is no way that it can come off! The game is played just like Capture the Flag but instead of tagging people, you shoot them with the padded arrow. The game is best played on a diverse piece of land, about the size of two football fields, just as the sun is going down.
I hope I have given you some ideas that will inspire you to go out and shoot your bow! If you don’t have a bow, you can make one at our bow making workshop which takes place in the summer. Have fun and be safe!
Check out Easton Hunting's games list for more Bow Hunting Games.
Bow hunting games, bow making, and many other survival skills are taught in the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program.