Learn To Hunt: Practice, Practice, Practice

They say that practice makes perfect but what you don’t hear very often is that practice makes zen. I find that this is true in a lot of things although with a lot of physical exercise the zen comes after the workout. Archery is a little more like yoga, the longer I shoot the more tired my muscles get but it just forces me to dig deeper and settle into the rhythm. It also doesn’t hurt that Ridgway is absolutely gorgeous and, more often than not, practice involves hanging out in view of Mt. Sneffles.

Archery practice

The first few times I went shooting, it was all about simply going through the process of putting on the release, notching an arrow, pulling it back, and looking through the peep sight. My accuracy improved in this period but I really just focused on having fun with it. (Also with not looking angry while aiming.  😉 ) I was happy with how light the Instigator is and I had fun shooting until Sprocket got restless about waiting for me. (PS tends to sit and watche me from the tailgate of the Jeep…)

Archery practice

The last few times I’ve been out, I’ve started to pay more attention to doing things the same each and every time. I’ve gotten stronger and am going to bump up my draw weight before I go out next time. I vary which point on the target I try to hit and my sessions are getting longer.

Archery practice

Archery practice

Archery practice

This comparison might sound a little weird but after playing softball for years, I’m finding archery practice to be a little like doing tee work. It’s all about quieting yourself, focusing on a specific piece of your practice that you want to improve and going through the repetitions to cement the muscle memory. That parallel continues right on down to needing to retrieve the arrows after each round. (Now if only I’d have thought to take my tee and net to such pretty places to practice).

Archery Practice

 

 

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My bow and accessories were provided by Cabela’s to 3Up Adventures for review as part of an ongoing series about learning to bow hunt. All opinions are mine and subject to change as I become more experienced at the sport.

 

Learn To Hunt: Hunters’ Education

This is the next post in a series about learning to hunt in partnership with Cabela’s. I’ve been fitted with a bow and have been practicing (more on that soon!). Since I really love learning about new things, I was really excited to take hunter’s education. Back in early May I took Hunter’s Ed and had a great experience.

Montrose Colorado hunters education

In Colorado, everyone born after December 31, 1948 is required to have a hunter’s education card to purchase a hunting license. I vividly remember my cousins taking hunter’s education one summer while we were camping. Excited about hunting with their dad and other family members (including my dad) they dutifully studied their pamphlet textbook and excitededly hopped in the car to interrupt our camping adventures for that week’s class session. I was sort of jealous that they were getting to learn things over the summer so I studied over their shoulder but really never thought that I would take the class.

Colorado Hunter's Education Manual

When it came time this spring for me to take hunter’s education, I opted to take an in-person class rather than taking it online with just one “field” day. I’m really glad that I chose to do this. For someone who has a family member or hunting mentor, it would probably be easier to just ake the class online but since I’m sort of launching into this venture independently, I figured that I would take all the personal interaction that I can get!

Rick teaching hunter's education

I think I was totally right about this decision. My course was taught at the Montrose Rod and Gun club by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteer, Rick, who was assisted by his wife, Dawn, and a friend, Charles. I felt like I was a little bit out of place rocking a lot of neon Columbia gear in a sea of camo and khaki but I just rolled with it. I was also one of a very small number of adults taking the class (I’m sure most opt to take it online) but the kids were so much fun to be in class with! They were excited about learning everything were so ecstatic about getting to go hunting.

Hunter's Education

My absolute favorite part of the class was getting to handle the dummy guns. I’m pretty comfortable with a bolt action (thank you single-shot .22 time at the cabin! …man, I miss that gun…) but beyond that I haven’t had much experience. We passed the “guns” around demonstrating proper technique for assuring that the chamber was clear. This meant I had the chance to gain at least some familiarity with lever action, pump action, break action, shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles. I’ve always found it really stressful to shoot a new gun even though I love shooting because it’s a gun. This was a great environment to carefully and deliberately practice appropriate handing. Besides, I’m never going to forget learning that “a safety is a mechanical device that sometimes fails” and always treat a gun as if it’s ready to fire.

Hunter's Education card

Taking the course in person made for a busy week but it was totally worth it. Just like each step in the journey, it got me excited about beginning this new hobby!

 

This post is part of an ongoing series in partnership with Cabela’s, however I paid for hunters education myself and all opinions are my own.

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Colorado Exploration: Rifle to Meeker

After we left the Mountain Games, it was time to head back to the Western Slope. I had a meeting Monday morning in De Beque but that left us all of Sunday for exploring. I had hoped to drive up to the Roan Cliffs high point but by the time we got to Rifle, it appeared that wasn’t going to happen so I holed up in a Starbucks to get some school work done.

Storm Clouds over the Roan Cliffs

 

When I came out of Starbucks, however, it was looking like things had cleared up so I did some quick Googling of the JQS Road. It was clear from the few things I read that the road was all but impassable when wet. But, I reasoned, it really hadn’t rained much so we set out to investigate. I walked the road for a little bit and decided that it seemed nice and solid, even a little bit dusty. Once we got past the parking area for the open OHV area though, the road turned to baby poo. (Seriously, baby poo is the name given to mud that is totally SLICK. It coats your tires and essentially renders you useless.) If you’ve ever driven a vehicle on a rutted, muddy road, you know the disconcerting feeling of drifting around vaguely where you’re steering but knowing you really have no control at all and that is exactly what was happening. Fortunately, I got the Jeep turned around with no issues (getting that beast stuck alone is a giant fear of mine), but holy cow what a mess!

FSJ tire coated in mud

 

It was only about 4:30 and that meant that I had plenty of daylight left with the gloriously long days this time of year. Rather than just sit down with my book, I decided to make the drive up to Meeker. I’d never been there and I’m always up for an exploratory drive so away we went. Meeker is a super cute little town—I didn’t really stop to take any pictures since I planned to take the scenic route home and wanted to have enough daylight but I will definitely be back to make a more full exploration.

FSJ Exploring FSJ exploring

Instead of simply going back the way we’d come, Sprocket and I headed down Rio Blanco County’s 13 Road. At first it was in great shape but as we continued south a couple of deep ruts appeared. Fortunately, this time the road wasn’t muddy and we were able to just keep on going. Somewhere along the way we passed into Garfield County but I couldn’t tell you exactly where because I was distracted by the elk. Lots of elk.

First it was this relatively small group:

Elk

But then it seemed like every field that I passed was full of them!

Elk

Elk

All I could think was how excited my dad would have been with the whole thing. I’m sure Sprocket was thinking I was driving like him with all the quick stops when I spotted a herd but since I would roll down the back window so he could have his sniffs, I think he forgave me.

Elk

We had such a great time. Besides high alpine hiking, there really isn’t much that I like better than exploring new dirt roads!

 

Learn To Hunt: Bow Fitting

I’m pleased to announce that 3Up Adventures is partnering with Cabela’s as I learn how to hunt! I’ve been wanting to get into archery for awhile now (more on that in a future post) and I’m really excited to get started with such excellent support!

Last week, my new bow, a Cabela’s Instigator by BOWTECH, arrived at my house along with a bunch of awesome accessories, a case, and a couple of targets. It was so hard to be patient all week as I waited to head up to the Grand Junction Cabela’s store to get everything on the bow adjusted and to have my arrows trimmed. Finally, the weekend rolled around and I was walking into the store!

Cabela's Grand Junction archery range

The store manager, Debbie, met me at the front and walked me back to the archery area. She was super friendly and happy to have me in the store. She introduced me to Cody, the archery technician, chatted for a bit and then let Cody and I get down to business. We started by measuring my draw length. Draw length is theoretically a function of your wingspan but as it turned out, I needed a little bit of extra adjustment and we found that a 29″ draw worked well for me.

While making the adjustments to draw length and draw strength, Cody checked to make sure everything was straight and level after shipping. He also installed the stabilizer, a sight, and the wrist strap. At each step, he explained to me how I could make these adjustments on my own if I needed to.

Cabela's Archery Tech

After all the adjustments were done, it was time for me to finally be able to shoot my bow! Cody showed me how to notch the arrow so that the fletchings (the “wings” on the arrow) would pass through the bow cleanly. We made a few adjustments to my draw length, sighted it in, and made sure I was comfortable with shooting.

I don’t have a very relaxed Katniss Everdeen concentration face yet:

Beth at Grand Junction Cabela's archery range

Finally, we cut all of my arrows and assembled most of them with field points. Cody explained that he always saves a quiver full of arrows so that he’s always prepared with straight and undamaged ones for hunting.

Cabela's Archery Tech

Thank you so much to both Cody and Debbie at the Grand Junction Cabela’s. I’m so excited to get started with target shooting and hunting preparations. I had only shot a bow a handful of times before so I was a little nervous but the whole process was really painless and a lot of fun. Just shooting that handful of times in the archery range was almost meditative. I can’t wait to take the bow outside and get some more practice in on my own!

 

The services and products in this post were provided to 3Up Adventures by Cabela’s however all opinions are my own.

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