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Hunt Recap: Julian Ranch 3D shoot

It's not a real hunt, but like one of my friends said, probably the best hunting experience we will ever have in California. While it's not full hunting, the archery is technical. The shots are hard. They are ready to test all your practice in some of the best real life scenarios close to hunting.

3 Separate courses. Short and long shots, big and small targets. I started the weekend with 9 total arrows. I've done a lot with my bow in the "off season". I got it tuned to my current arrow weight, updated with new side bar stabilizer. I was excited to see if it felt like I progressed since last year.

I generally like my first shot at most targets. Still I was a bit more nervous than I was expecting to be at my first shot. 39 yard wolf. Hit. Not a 10 ring, but in the kill zone. Second target. A skunk 32 yards, through a narrow window. I had to kneel. Missed. broke my first arrow on my second shot of the two day event... great. the next few shots I was back and forth, a few good shots, a few bad... lost another arrow... but what was I even doing. Doubt began to creep in. Then I realized, I was in my head. not practicing any shot process or being present. This is the biggest failure an archer can commit in my opinion. To rely on instincts alone feels like guess work. And I know I can be much better than guess work. I needed to slow down. Trust my process. Stop worrying about the target and start focusing on what I can control.

I finally felt myself calm down. Back into the shot process. My confidence began to return with a few well placed shots. It is wild to me how fast my mind can simply forget "my rules of shooting". But this is why I'm at this event. If I was to go into the field and be feeling this nervous in front of an animal... I am convinced I would miss 100% or even worse, injure the animal. This is where practice at the range simply isn't good enough, you have to put yourself into the most realistic experience possible as much as possible.

Most of my shots over the weekend began to fall. I used my own range finder on most of the shots, because I believe getting comfortable with your rangefinder and bino system can be very important. I would hate if I missed an opportunity at an animal because I was poor at using my rangefinder correctly. Does it match what distance I think it is? Am I hitting a bush 5 yards in front of the target? Am I smooth and quiet in taking it in and out of my chest harness?

One odd thing that happened to me on a target both day 1 and the second day I didn't understand until a few days later. My range finder is set to the bow setting. Adjusting for up and down angles according to a bow. This often changes the actual yardage on inclines or declines. The yardage said 55 on a jaguar up the hill. I ranged it, my range finder said 51. Hmm thats weird. Well my bow has been shooting accurately to my rangefinder, so I shot at 51. Miss. Way low. Second day... ok i shot this low, but this is what my range finder said. Low again, right under the belly. I instantly adjusted, shot again... floating my pins for 55... 10 ring. Days later what I realized what happened is not that my 3rd shot was perfect, it was that I was drawing "short" on the uphill shot. I did this at some point last year as well. On uphill shots, your draw length can easily be shorter, than what you thought it is. Because your front hand is up, you actually have decreased your draw length perhaps by 1/2 - 2 inches. This will make your shot short, and I actually did this 3 times in a row on these shots. Some of the more extreme angles I know to draw back, then move up to the target. But this one the angle was so slight, I fell victim to an easy mistake. This shot could easily be a hunting opportunity, and I am really glad I realized I was making this mistake.

The thing I thought I did really well on, was taking my time to get my bubble where I wanted. Most of the shots were on hills, with feet off balance. It is easy to have your sight exactly where you want it to be, only to look down and see your bubble way off. It feels so unnatural to time the time to center the bow... and even more so it can feel wrong. But I took my time and slowly would adjust to get my bubble in the right spot on shooting.

I did lose a total of 5 arrows. 2 broken, 3 couldn't find. I overall wish a shot a bit better, but also had some shots I was really proud of.

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