Growing Bowhunting: Why Mentoring Matters
Each bowhunter’s journey is marked by many firsts, such as celebrating your first bull’s-eye, drawing on your first animal, suffering through your first miss, and celebrating the thrills of your first harvest.
For seasoned bowhunters, firsts become few and far between, unless you mentor a new bowhunter. That responsibility lets you experience those exciting firsts all over again, albeit through someone else’s eyes.
Experienced bowhunters have several good reasons to mentor new hunters this season. Meanwhile, beginning bowhunters have countless reasons to seek a mentor. Let’s look at mentoring from both perspectives.
Sharing the Wealth
If you’ve never picked up a bow, knowing where to begin can seem overwhelming. An archery shop can help you choose the right setup, but it’s also nice to have a trusted mentor offering advice. Most seasoned bowhunters have used several bows, releases, arrows and sights before settling on what works best for them. By drawing from their experiences, you’ll gain valuable insight into what might work for you.
Mentors who help new bowhunters choose the right setup can put years of trial and error to good use. If you’ve been shooting archery for more years than you can count, tutoring a beginner at the range forces you to remember archery’s basic skills and techniques. Answering questions and troubleshooting problems also expands your knowledge of the sport. Plus, watching their arrow groups shrink under your guidance swells your heart with pride.
Respecting the Woods
Hunters are notoriously secretive about their favorite hunting spots, but consider letting a newbie tag along this season, perhaps to your second favorite site. Taking a new bowhunter into the woods can help you fall in love with the place all over again as you watch them discover its magic. In fact, their fresh eyes might notice something you’ve always overlooked. Hunting with beginners also provides opportunities to teach them bowhunting ethics and “leave no trace” practices.
Meanwhile, beginners who follow experienced bowhunters into the woods benefit from a crash course in the sport. Watching bowhunters engage all their senses while searching for animal sign, pinpointing wind direction, and concealing their presence provides valuable lifetime lessons. The beginner must respect the spot by leaving it the way they entered, and keeping the location secret.
Passing on Ethics
Bowhunting goes way beyond shooting targets, of course. Experienced bowhunters understand the angles and distances of ethical shots. Teaching beginners proper shot placement helps ensure ethical shots that harvest animals quickly and humanely.
Newcomers also must learn to handle the adrenaline surge that accompanies shooting opportunities. It can be tough to calm down and take precise shots, but trusted mentors know your skills and abilities, and encourage you to take or leave shots as they help calm your nerves. Even if you don’t fill your tag, the experience increases your knowledge about what to expect the next time you get a chance to shoot.
A Helping Hand
Although some archers prefer solo bowhunts, having a reliable partner can make things much easier. For instance, one person can be the shooter while the other uses a rangefinder to reveal accurate distances. Hunting partners can also take turns calling, rattling and raking for animals. It takes time to learn these skills, but a knowledgeable bowhunting partner speeds the process.
Experienced bowhunters also know the real work often starts when the hunt ends. Teach the eager beginner how to field dress and butcher the animal, and take care of the meat. This hands-on learning takes extra time but provides valuable lessons that get easier with each successful hunt.
Protecting the Future
Through it all, realize that the bowhunting industry’s future requires the continued strength of its membership. Bowhunters protect wildlife populations and public lands by buying gear and hunting licenses. By passing on your bowhunting passions to new hunters, you’re keeping this heritage alive for future generations.
If you’re new to bowhunting and seeking a mentor, you have several options. For starters, visit an archery shop. Its owners might know a good mentor, or you might just meet one at the store or while shooting in a league. Most communities also have archery organizations filled with experienced archers of both genders. In addition, groups like Becoming an Outdoors-Woman are geared toward helping women learn skills like archery.
Whether you pair up with a friend, family member or someone you’re just getting to know, you’ll enjoy countless benefits in mentor-pupil relationships. If you want to experience a first this season, tutoring a new bowhunter provides experiences you’ll never forget.