Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cold Weather Practice - Feb Issue BowAmerica

Here is the newest article in BowAmerica!

Don’t let weather control your practice schedule! In Sweden, they say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. You can and should practice in all kinds of weather, as you never know what you might run into during a tournament, or a hunt for that matter. If you compete on outdoor ranges, you should be comfortable with wind and rain, and in some cases some wet snow. If you are prepared, it can be a lot of fun. Most of us don’t need to be out in sub-zero weather, unless you live in Alaska. Find a nice, friendly indoor range with hot coffee for those days. Preferably with some friends who tell good jokes. Or try Hawaii!

Stretch out. Unless you are Chuck Norris, cold muscles get hurt. Your old high-school coach agrees. Bonus, you will feel less old the next day.

Ouch!! That's not supposed to have a bend there.
Be nice to your equipment. Protect your bow limbs from temperature swings. If you have wood laminate limbs, as many of us do, don’t leave them in the freezing car all day and then go practice in a warm room. Give your equipment enough time to adjust before shooting. Older bows seem to have more poundage swings in the cold below freezing. Test yours if it’s been in the family for a while by leaving it in your car overnight and see what it does in the morning. You might need to adjust your sight accordingly to keep from shooting high. Check your arrow flight in the cold. Different shafts types flex differently if below freezing. Experiment ahead of time so you can anticipate and make changes when necessary.

Know how the cold temperature changes your form. Lots of people have trouble when cold coming to full draw, especially when hunting and pulling 60-70 lbs. If you hunch your shoulders because you are chilly, you will lose some of the strength and connection in your back. Also, wear enough warm layers to keep your core limber. When your core is cold, it’s hard to achieve proper alignment. If your metal grip is turning your bow hand into an icicle, you can wind a wrap or two of self-stick bandage around your grip to keep the cold directly off your hand. Your local feed store has it in the equine section in colors to match your bow, including hot pink.

Layer. Layer. Layer. Recurve people work up a sweat while shooting. Lots of info on outdoor wear has already been written. Wear high-tech fabrics and things that breathe. Cotton = wet and cold later on. Wool is great if you can find it in a close cut option. If you are like me and bolt for the outdoor range as soon as the snow melts, you will be shooting in the rain. You won’t melt, I promise. Rain pants and a well-fitting jacket that doesn’t get in the way of your bowstring are key. You might want to try a chest protector over your jacket to keep it from snagging. Some tall stomper rain boots are great for holding down tall wet grass when looking for lost arrows. It’s not a fashion show.

Finger shooters have cold fingers. I’ve tried glommets, but the feel is different, so I don’t use them much unless the temperature is around freezing. Mittens are not an option for me, as my bow needs to swing back on follow through. Make sure your pressure points (release fingers and palm of bow hand) don’t lose feeling. Try your release with your hunting gloves on. You won’t have time to take them off before that buck moves behind the tree.

Play Garage Band. If the weather is wet, you can still shoot if you have a garage or covered deck to shoot out of. I also shoot more arrows each end to limit all the trips back and forth to pull. I’ve even heard of a person that would shoot at distance from his window in the winter to a target outside to get in 70m or 90m practice. Hmmm, I wonder how far it is across the pond…

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