Refining Your Rig
Posted on October 28, 2011
The devil’s in the details, so when it comes to tricking out your bow for whitetail shots, make sure it’s as perfect as it can be.
I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that all of us bowhunters want the same things out of our chosen weapon: speed, accuracy, forgiveness and a quiet shot. And while obtaining those qualities has a lot to do with the bow we shoot, a good deal of them can be acquired, or even enhanced, by simply attaching the right add-ons to that bow. The tricky part is to accomplish this without wasting time and money.
Unfortunately, when you consider the enormous amount of products from which to choose, making a bad decision every now and then can almost seem inevitable. Complicating matters is the fact that pursuing whitetails with archery tackle carries its own unique set of challenges. By nature, treestand shots are unlike any other: varying slopes and angles, tight shooting positions and endless hours of inactivity (followed by the sudden encounter) all conspire to ruin your best efforts.
With that thought in mind, let’s take a closer look at some simple upgrades poised to help you overcome most treestand shooting challenges and, ultimately, fill more unused tags.
Add a String Stop
You would be hard pressed to find another product that addresses so many issues at one time as the string stop. Not only is this ingenious little device great for solving the problem of string interference with bulky, late-season clothing (typical for November rut hunting), but it also stops string oscillation, reduces post-shot vibration and allows for cleaner arrow separation from the string during the shot. You can purchase the string stop as an aftermarket addition or look for it as standard equipment on select bow lines.
Getting on Target
I’ve never understood the need to complicate bow shots from a treestand by carrying five or more pins in my sight housing. Sure, many aiming points are appropriate where shooting distances run the gamut, but bowhunting whitetails from above ground is not one of them. Eliminating a few pins will not only clear up your sight picture, thereby allowing you to see the spot you want to hit more clearly, it will also reduce the chance that you pick the wrong pin in the heat of the moment. When that big buck moves in close, I can hardly remember my name, let alone which pin to aim with.
In addition, considering that the average whitetail shot typically occurs between 20 and 25 yards, two sight pins (one set at 25 and perhaps another at 35 yards) can easily cover 90 percent of the shooting scenarios you will face. Therefore, do yourself a favor and save the five-pin sight for Western hunting, for which long-range opportunities are the norm.
Speed kills. There is no arguing that fact. However, don’t get caught up in the speed craze to the point that you choose arrows that are a little too weak for your setup—simply because they are lighter and faster. While raw arrow speed might bail you out of misjudging the yardage to old tangle-horns, an arrow that is underspine will not provide the kind of arrow flight conducive to accurate, lethal shots—not to mention penetration from such an arrow will likely suffer as well.
As I mentioned, treestand shots on whitetails typically happen at close range, so don’t let speed be the determining factor in your arrow selection. Consistent accuracy and being able to hit what you are aiming at are the most important qualities an arrow can possess. Then comes overall speed.
Squeeze, Squeeze, Squeeze
Don’t take this seemingly insignificant piece of equipment for granted; its ability to make you a better bowshot is stronger than you realize. The best release aids offer infinite adjustability and a crisp trigger. Models that allow the release head to be moved closer or farther from the hand (in minute increments) will make it easier to position the trigger in just the right spot along the finger to influence the use of back muscles to trigger the shot.
Also, a crisp trigger means a better release. Triggers that break sloppy can cause unwanted string torque, which will undoubtedly affect arrow flight. And even though treestand shots will be close, an arrow that is swaying side to side due to a rough release won’t impact the target in a straight line, which will impede penetration.
My favorite release aid (Scott Little Bitty Goose Deluxe) offers the advantage of interchangeable trigger posts. This feature is excellent when specific training goals are desired. For example, a spring trigger is an awesome tool for learning how to execute a “surprise” release, because it promotes squeezing the shot until the bow fires. This is very important, because most botched opportunities are largely due to rushing through the shot process.
Quite often when treestand hunting, whitetails offer only fleeting opportunities to loose an arrow as they pass in and out of range. As a result, the urgency in our mind to “shoot now” is a viable threat to our success. Learning to squeeze the release trigger will not only slow things down during this heart-pounding moment, it will also quickly confirm that most often, you have more time than you think to release an arrow.