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Bowhunting 101

@outdoors_allie | MAY 25

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to start bowhunting. Maybe it’s the challenge or the connection with nature. The food or the responsibility that comes with learning how to shoot accurately.

I was naturally drawn to bowhunting when I started almost a decade ago. I didn’t grow up around firearms, so it was more comfortable for me to learn how to use archery equipment. It was my “in” to learn how to hunt. Which is funny to me now, because bowhunting is one of the hardest skills to master within hunting.

allie looking at an arrow with a fake deer target in the background pulling an arrow from the fake deer target

You have options when it comes to what type of archery equipment you choose to hunt with. There are traditional bows, compound bows, and crossbows. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Traditional bows are by far the hardest to master and require a ton of practice to perfect your shot but are beautifully simplistic in their design and are more of a purist approach to hunting. Compound bows combine tradition with technology and are easier to “get good at” fast. Compound bows are what most people think of when they hear the word bowhunting. Crossbows have a firearm style design, with a trigger and sight. They are capable of further distances and faster speeds than compound bows. They are a great option for beginners and those who can’t pull back a traditional or compound bow.

allie atanding in the snow drawing a bow back allie packing her backpack to prepare for a hunting trip

In order to be a successful bowhunter, you have to learn how to get close to the animals you are hunting. You might be hundreds of yards away from your target when hunting with a firearm, but that’s just not the case with bowhunting. Most of the time you’ll need to be within 40 yards or less. This is one of my favorite parts about it. It forces you to become a better hunter and as a byproduct, you’ll end up having a lot of memorable close encounter experiences.

One of the major benefits of bowhunting is the opportunity to hunt extended seasons. Most (if not all) states have archery seasons that open well before firearm seasons, and special tags that are only available to hunt with archery equipment. Check your state’s hunting regulations to learn more about the bowhunting opportunities that are available in your area.

allie examining her arrow head allie climbing a tree stand wearing her Muck boots

YouTube and other social media platforms are a wealth of knowledge and can really cut down on your time when researching how to “get started”. I’d also recommend finding a local archery shop. It can be intimidating the first time or two you go, but it’s a great resource for learning about your equipment, how to shoot, and most shops have indoor ranges where you can go to practice or test out new bows.

It took me a few years of bowhunting before I ever filled my first tag with a bow (I ended up harvesting a few animals with firearms before a bow), so have patience with yourself and enjoy the process!

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