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Any bowhunter will tell you that there are many variables that go into making a successful hunt. The trick is figuring out which things are under your control so you can get better at them. That’s why many bowhunters are constantly on the lookout for bowhunting tips to help bring home the meat.
And who better to get tips from than Professional Archers?
I reached out to some of the best archers in the world and asked, “What is the #1 best thing you’d recommend a bowhunter can do to stay sharp in the field?”
Here’s the summary of 13 bowhunting tips from the pros:
- Know your equipment and how it shoots
- Double-check your sight for elevation changes
- Practice “gapping” your pins
- Go shoot your local tournaments
- A faster bow makes it harder to tune broadheads
- Use large enough vanes for your broadhead
- Actually practice with your broadhead
- Mechanical broadheads are much easier to tune
- Don’t use too high of a draw weight
- Shot placement is more important than draw weight
- Practice long holds under pressure
- Pay attention to the wind direction
- Shoot your bow with all your hunting gear on
Now, let’s get into the details.
Brady Ellison, shooting for Hoyt, is a 2-time World Champion, 3-time Olympic Medalist, has multiple dozens of other medals, and currently, the only recurve archer in history to score a perfect 900 at The Vegas Shoot. Brady has been shooting a bow since age 7 and harvested his first animal (a bear) when he was 11.
Today, he’s still an avid bowhunter. In competition, he shoots a recurve bow. But for hunting, he shoots compound.
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Had an awesome time in Montana with @schaffkris filling the freezer. Made some awesome shots and had a lot of laughs. I love hunting and being in the outdoors. This is where I get All the meat @tojaellison and I eat. We don’t go to the store at all. Just like growing your own garden I hunt for my food. Is the only way to get truely organic meat. For those who don’t like hunting I understand but please also understand that this is how I get my food. We all eat meat we just get it at different places. To all my vegetarian fans out there just skip this post lol. You do you and I’ll do me. Thanks again for all the support. @hoytbowhunting @eastonarchery @truball_axcel @gasbowstrings @shrewdarchery @tac_vanes @bakcoulife @lancasterarchery @mantisarchery @chinookseedery also this was the first hunt I got to use the @bakcoulife and it was so much fun and just a different experience for sure.
And like many bowhunters, the only meat he and his wife, professional archer Toja Ellison, eat is what Brady brings home from hunting. 100% Organic!
So what’s Brady’s #1 tip he would recommend for bowhunters? Two things actually: Know your gear and watch the elevation changes
Here’s what he had to say:
“Here is one of my tips: Knowing your equipment and how it shoots. So if you’re a western hunter and you shoot a slider pin sight that has multiple pins, really shoot and practice and know the pin gaps at different distances.
For instance, I run a 5 pin slider sight with my middle pin sighted in on a sight tape at 40 yards. My pins run 20-60 yards. If I move my sight to 100 yards, for example, I know my middle pin is 100 because it’s on a tape but what is my top pin or bottom pin? Shoot those pins in as well and make a little cheat sheet for yourself. My top pin instead of a 20-yard gap is now 15 yards so my top pin is 85 yards and my bottom is 118.
I walk back and forth so I know the exact pins distances. That way if you slide your sight, and your animal moves closer or farther, you don’t have to readjust your sight. You can just use the other pins because you know where they will hit. Saves time and with the extra practice learning your setup you will kill more animals.
Also, make sure to watch elevation changes of where you hunt and where you sighted in. Sometimes on a single hunt, you could range 3-4000 feet difference in elevation and that will affect sight marks. So always double-check your stuff. Taking the extra half hour to double-check or resight-in can make the difference in a good shop placement or a miss or back straps.
This is one of my tips. If you ever want to know more about what I do, don’t hesitate to ask.” – Brady Ellison
Paige Pearce is both a World-Class professional competition archer, shooting for Bowtech, AND a seasoned bowhunter. She has been shooting a bow all her life and broke her first state record when she was only 10 years old. She’s gone on to break over 110 other state, national, and world records.
Paige has 5 gold medals in the World Archery Championship as well as many other medals from the Archery World Cup and Pan American Championships.
When she’s not competing, she’s bowhunting.
So what’s Paige’s #1 thing she would recommend for bowhunters? Two things: Practice gapping your pins and get out and shoot your local tournaments
Here she is in her own words:
“Hey! So one could be if people use multi-pin sights, that they need to practice shooting off distances so they practice gapping their pins.
I would recommend practicing for example like 53, 55, 57 and learning how to properly aim when gapping pins. Way too many people only ever shoot the even 10-yard distances.
Living in CA, we also have a ton of safari events which are incredible practice for hunting. I always recommend people with tournaments around them go shoot at least one because it will teach them how to shoot uphill, downhill, sidehills, and all of the different distances.” – Paige Pearce
Lewis Holmes III
Lewis Holmes III, Professional Archer shooting for PSE Archery, is based out of Adams, Wisconsin. Lewis describes himself as just wanting to be a good bow fisherman and hunter.
His skills have definitely carried over into competition archery.
With no particular favorite competition style, Lewis will compete in anything that comes his way. He recently went toe-to-toe with the likes of Jesse Broadwater and Dave Cousins at the NFAA Outdoor National Field Competition in Yankton, SD.
When it comes to bowhunting, what does Lewis recommend?
“If I had to say one thing people need to really focus on it would be broadhead. Keeping broadheads simple, don’t overthink them. If you like fixed blades there are three things that come to mind.
First off, the faster the bow the harder it will be to get them to fly perfect. They like to plane at higher speed.
Second, make sure you have adequate vane for the head. I see a lot of people have issues trying to run small vanes with fixed heads.
Third is group tune with your broadhead, practice with your broadhead, toss the field point to the side. Many companies like Morrell targets make great broadhead targets. Use them. Don’t worry about how the field point flies. Worry about how the broadhead flies. You’re not killing the animals with field points.
Mechanical or expandable heads are much easier to tune and shoot. Pretty much anyone of them fly close to field points. Companies like G5 give you mimicked heads that fly exactly like the real thing. Use them to practice! Vanes aren’t as critical with mechanical heads and speed isn’t either.
Bottom line, practice with what you’re shooting at the animal. You’ll have way more confidence knowing they are going to hit behind the pin!” – Lewis Holmes III
You can follow Lewis Holmes III over on Facebook.
Krissy Hay Knox
Coming out of Oregon, Krissy grew up in a hunting family doing most of their hunting with a rifle. With her brother as a hunting partner, the two of them were more or less self-taught hunters gaining the most valuable experience from their failures. Up to that point, all their hunting was done with a rifle.
Until it wasn’t.
Rifle tags became harder and harder to get. Then it struck them: what if they bow hunted?!
Well they did and now she almost exclusively hunts with a bow!
Fast forward to today, Krissy and her brother Ryan have been teaching new hunters how to get started. The two of them also joined the Bowtech Pro Staff Team and continue to spread their love of bowhunting. Krissy still regularly teaches at hunting camps for women and children.
If you check out her Instagram, you’ll see for yourself just how skilled Krissy is at bringing down all kinds of game. From black tails and big ol’ muleys to black bears, turkeys, and of course (her favorite) rocky mountain elk.
So what would Krissy recommend for bowhunters? Don’t over-bow!
Here’s what she had to say:
“I see it all the time.
Archery hunters think they need to pull as much weight as physically possible to be their best in the woods. The truth is, we should be focused on far more important details.
As a woman, even though I am able to pull 60 pounds, I only hunt with a 50# draw for several reasons… In regard to compound archery, bows are so much faster and more efficient than 20 years ago. Rather than increasing draw weight, make sure your bow is properly tuned and your arrows are heavy enough to provide knockdown power.
Shot placement with the right arrow at a lower draw weight is going to be more effective than a high poundage shot with no control into the guts. Also keep in mind, in a hunting situation, your bow is going to be considerably harder to pull due to nerves, adrenaline, cold weather, bulkier clothing, etc.
And I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to draw back on an animal multiple times during an encounter and hold the draw for a minute or more each time.
You need to be able to draw your bow smoothly multiple times under pressure (without having to horse it back while pointing at the sky…we all know what this looks like 😉 By not maxing yourself out on draw weight, you are setting yourself up for success in the field. Hunt Happy!!” – Krissy Hay Knox
Coming out of Washington, Jeremiah Hale has been bowhunting since he was about 10 years old, taking inspiration from his granddad who was a disabled veteran. When he was old enough to pass his hunter’s safety course, his older brother bought him a brand new PSE Polaris for $90!
That first year, he took his first deer at 40 yards.
A couple of decades on and tons of successful hunts later, he met a 70-year-old disabled veteran who wanted someone to go hunting with.
So, Jeremiah went.
Well, that veteran had another friend, also a veteran, who also wanted someone to go hunting with.
So, Jeremiah went too.
Over the next decade on up til today he’s taken about 4 or 5 veterans a year to get out and enjoy hunting. Not being a veteran himself, Jeremiah sees it as his way of giving back to them.
When he’s not hunting, or dreaming of hunting, Jeremiah drives a city bus or shoots local 3D tournaments. Check out his Instagram to see what else he’s been up to. (Hint: It’s more bowhunting!)
Jeremiah Hale describes himself as a hardcore bowhunter, going elk hunting at least once each year for 14 days straight.
So what’s the #1 thing he would recommend for bowhunters?
“Wind sir!! You have to play the wind whenever or whatever game animal you’re chasing.” – Jeremiah Hale
Short, sweet, and to the point.
Coming straight out of central west Saskatchewan, Canada, World-Class Professional Archer, Erin McGladdery competes mainly in the US as a professional archer. Getting her professional start shooting for Bowtech, Erin has been the IBO National and World Champion as well as making the podium for multiple other IBO, ASA, and OPA events. She is currently shooting for Team Mathews.
Not too bad for a fellow Canadian!
Erin has always been a bow shooter and living in rural Saskatchewan brings plenty of opportunity for bowhunting as well. When she’s not bowhunting or competing professionally, Erin spends her time as a contract killer for local municipalities.
Ok, well she’s not an assassin for hire…
Erin is a licensed pest control officer.
Part of her duties includes trapping beavers, exploding dams, dispensing rat poison to farmers, and assassinating coyotes from range.
You can check out Erin’s Instagram to see what else she gets up to.
Other than slaying yotes in sandals, Erin also hunts moose, white tails, big ol’ Prairie muleys, black bear, ducks, and even more coyotes. Stack em up!
When it comes to bowhunting, what’s the #1 thing Erin would recommend for bowhunters?
Here’s what she had to say:
“My advice is to practice shooting your bow with all your hunting gear and clothing on. Shooting while bundled up and wearing a treestand harness can feel a lot different than shooting in a tee shirt. Build confidence in your abilities through practicing realistic hunting scenarios!” – Erin McGladdery
Now that you have some awesome bowhunting tips from some Professional Archers, get out there and spend some quality time with your bow.
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.