Ritualizing Exercises for Bowhunters

bowhunter at full draw

Take your bowhunting to the next level by ritualizing your practice techniques so your body functions automatically in the field for a successful hunt easier. 


A good grip is vital for stability and accuracy. Your grip should not change from one session to the next. You should hold your bow the same way every time you shoot. Your grip should be firm, but not tight. A tight grip would cause instability, which is the opposite of what you want.

Start in a relaxed position, pick up your bow, and aim. Check your form. Are you lined up? Is your posture straight? Can you see through your sight? If you answer no to any of these questions, correct your hold and position, then do it again. 

Do this exercise 20 times per practice session, making corrections,  until you can pick up your bow and aim properly with one single move. Do this exercise each practice session until your body performs the move automatically, then do the exercise periodically to maintain muscle memory.


Drawing the bow requires proper technique and practice to master. To begin, make your stance comfortable and balanced. Grip the bow the way you practiced above. Then, reach up with your other hand and take hold of the string. 

When you draw the bow, keep your shoulders strong and use your back muscles to pull the string to its full draw. When you reach the peak of your draw, hold it there for a few seconds and check your stance. Are you standing straight up, not leaning forward or back? Are you using your back rather than your arms to hold it steady? Make your corrections, then allow the string to slowly go back to its original position, and do it again.

Do this exercise 20 times per practice session, making corrections, in each practice session until your body performs the move automatically, then do the exercise periodically to maintain muscle memory.

Anchor Point

Your anchor point is the position you bring the string to before your release the arrow. To determine your anchor point, start by drawing the bow as you did above and find a comfortable spot where you can rest your index finger on your face. This should be the same spot every time. When you draw, touch your face at full draw to mark the spot. Each time you draw, make sure the spot you touch is the same spot for each draw. This could be the top of your jawbone, the bottom of your cheekbone, or the spot right in front of your ear. Whatever spot it is, keep it in mind every time your draw.

Do this exercise 20 times per practice session, making corrections, in each practice session until your body performs the move automatically, then do the exercise periodically to maintain muscle memory.


Ritualizing your release is a great way to ensure that you have a consistent and accurate shot. Get comfortable using your release and practice different techniques to find the release that helps you shoot accurately and consistently, whether it’s with a mechanical release or a manual release.

The grip, draw, and anchor point exercises help you with your hold and aim, now it’s time to release. When using a mechanical release, make sure to maintain your anchor point and aim while you press the trigger. Any movement in your hand can change your aim point, so make sure to hold steady. When using your hand to manually draw and release your bow, make sure to move your fingers at the same time and get them both out of the way of the string path. If your fingers stay in the string path, it could hinder your arrow flight. 

Don’t rush your shot. Take your time and focus on a consistent release motion. After you make your release, hold your position, analyze the outcome, and make corrections to maintain your consistency and accuracy. 

Do this exercise 20 times per practice session, making corrections, in each practice session until your body performs the move automatically, then do the exercise periodically to maintain muscle memory.


Knowing the exact distance you are shooting can help you make more accurate shots. There are several ways you can practice knowing your shooting range.

Use a rangefinder. A rangefinder can give you the exact yardage of your target. This can be helpful for practicing different distances and making sure you have the correct settings on your bow for the distances.

Practice with measured marks. Place targets at measured distances, practice shooting at those distances, and memorize their appearance. 

Practicing at different distances is a great way to become familiar with the different arrow trajectories that are required to hit those distances. Once familiar you can ritualize how you shoot at any one distance to anchor in your brain and acquire the muscle memory.

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When you’re out in the field, obstacles are just something you have to deal with. Your quarry won’t be sitting out in the open waiting for you to shoot it. So, hitting the target in realistic situations prepares you for real hunting. Whether branches, other animals, or your own equipment, there will always be something that could get between you and your target. Focus on the target and aim to hit it with precision.

Start by placing a target by a tree, bush, or other natural obstruction. Try shooting it from different angles, such as standing to the side of the obstruction and shooting from an angle. This helps build up your accuracy. Also, practice at different light levels, such as morning, noon, and evening. Practice at different elevations, like a tree stand and ground blind. And finally, practice in different weather conditions. This will help you prepare for any hunting situation. 

With enough practice and preparation, you’ll be ready to take any game in any condition.


Having the ability to adjust your position to whatever terrain you find yourself in is key. You may need to shoot while kneeling, sitting, or laying to hit your target. The more your practice each, the more you build your muscle memory.

Start by getting comfortable in each of the positions and practice shooting in them. Kneeling can be done on one or both knees down. Sitting can be with our legs crossed, tucked to the side, or out in front of you. Prone shooting is a bit more challenging, but it’s good to have this skill. 

As you practice, focus on the fundamentals of shooting; grip, draw, anchor point, release, and use the muscle memory you have built through your other practice techniques. Being able to change your position and maintain your form will help you become a better bowhunter. 

Tips for Creating a Practice Schedule

Creating a practice schedule will ensure you gain muscle memory to ritualize your bowhunting techniques and improve your skills. Here are some tips to help you create an effective and efficient practice schedule.

  1. Plan your practice in advance. Knowing what you want to work on ahead of time will help you stay focused and make sure you’re getting the most out of each session.
  2. Dedicate a specific amount of time to practicing each day or week. Consistency is the key to building muscle memory, so set aside time in your schedule for regular practice.
  3. Varu your practice routine to keep it interesting and prevent burnout. Mix up the types of exercises you do, the times you practice, and the distances you shoot. 
  4. Set goals for yourself. This will help motivate you and give you something to strive for as you practice.
  5. Take notes after each session to track your progress. This can help you see which areas need more attention and give you something to look back on when assessing your overall performance.

Follow these tips to create a practice schedule that works for you to maximize your efforts and build the muscle memory that makes hunting success automatic.

2 thoughts on “Ritualizing Exercises for Bowhunters”

  1. Good advice – do not forget your legs when exercising to stay fit, for bowhunting or anything else. About 40% of your muscle mass is found there. A friend who is still recovering from a stroke was told by one of his VA doctors that if you become immobile or bed-ridden, every two weeks you lose about 36% of your leg muscle strength. So in less than six weeks your legs become useless and it is very hard to climb out of that hole. Doc did that to put the fear of God in him and ensure he kept up with his exercise and therapy regime. He’s not a bowhunter but likes working on his cars. A few words to the wise.

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