Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tip for Beginning Female Bowhunters - Holibeth Helton

After my interview with Haley Heath, I realized even more how difficult it might be for female bowhunters to get started. I never really thought about it since my wife doesn't hunt, but I asked my friend Holibeth Helton if she wouldn't mind sharing some tips for beginning female bowhunters.  So read on and feel free to chime in on your thoughts or if you have additional tips! You can follow Holibeth on Twitter and on Facebook.

Female Bowhunter Tips

The number of women participating in the sport of hunting is increasing exponentially every year. It’s a decision that, if taken seriously enough, could change your life forever. Entering the industry as a female can be a little intimidating, but nothing you can’t conquer. Maybe you have hunted for years, but now you are considering becoming a bowhunter. Either way, there are a couple of tips I believe can help you seamlessly enter or transition into the bowhunting world.

Get Your Own Equipment

Hoyt ArcheryIf you are serious about bowhunting, there is nothing more important than having a bow that fits YOU! I've known several females that quit before they even start because their boyfriend/husband/etc. let them try their bow. We’re not built like a male, and ours bows should reflect that accordingly. Typically, our draw length is shorter and our draw weight lighter. There’s nothing wrong with this, but starting out on a bow setup for a male will most likely result in a bad experience. You could pull a muscle, tire out within very few shots by drawing too much weight, or slap your arm with the string because of the draw length not fitting. That’s painful, trust me! You don’t have to go out and buy a top of the line bow, but get something that will fit you and your preferences. My suggestion is to start with an adjustable bow—one that the draw weight can range anywhere from 15-70 lbs. You may need to start out drawing a low weight but the more you practice, the faster it will increase and you want a bow that can keep up with you.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Female Archery HoytArchery in general is a skill, not a talent. Very few pick up a bow for the first time and shoot tight groups at 50 yards. You have to work unfailingly in order to improve. It takes dedication and constructive criticism. After you get your bow sighted in, my suggestion would be to start at 10 to 15 yards. Just get comfortable holding the bow and shooting it. Don’t worry about where you hit, that will come naturally once you get your form and anchor points down. Some people start out with a kisser button, or a knot in the string. This provides a solid anchor point so when you draw your bow back you know exactly where to place it in order to shoot consistently. Also, don’t grip the handle tight. Instead, loosen your grip and allow the bow to roll naturally through the shot. Take advantage of your local archery shop. They have the knowledge and expertise to help you one-on-one with your form and shot. Don’t worry about making mistakes, even the professional archers started exactly how you are right now. The old saying “practice makes perfect” holds true. The more you practice and allow constructive criticism from those more experienced, the strides of improvement will come accordingly.

Learn to be a Duck

Hoyt Bowhunter Holibeth HeltonThis is possibly the hardest, yet most important lesson I've learned through my experience as a female bowhunter—you must learn to let negativity and criticism roll off your back. Not to try to scare you from this journey but you will more than likely be judged, critiqued, and harassed along the way. Anytime a female enters into a predominately male sport, there will be “haters”. Some just don’t understand that we are in it for the very same reason they are. We aren't here to “just look pretty”, “take selfies”, and “just go along for the hunt”. We are hunters—gender should play no role in prejudging our dedication and motivation. We are not afraid to pull our own weight. But, luckily, for every one “hater” you will find there are at least twenty others who are supportive. It’s an amazing industry to be a part of. The level of support available and knowledge base to pull from is second to none. So just remember, when those few individuals do critique and judge you it’s simply because they feel threatened. Let it go, like water off a duck’s back.

Being a female bowhunter is a rewarding experience, as hunting is in general. For those just entering the hunting world, be prepared for a journey that will change you forever. There’s nothing more rewarding than entering the woods and coming home to put organic, nutritious food on the table for your family. It’s an experience that simply cannot be put into words. Bonds are created through hunting that will last a lifetime.

Welcome to the bowhunting world and enjoy! 

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