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.

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…)

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.

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).

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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:

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.

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.

#OmniGames: Day 1

Photo courtesy 100 Peaks

After Season 4 headed into downtown Park City, we rendezvoused with the #omniten alumni at the No Name Saloon. Circulating around the room, I found myself drawn into conversation after conversation in the loud room—the next morning, my voice was a little hoarse! The amount of flannel the #omniten was rocking was quite amazing. There was a concert happening out on the streets but many of us were having way too much fun hanging out with our fellow #omniten. Going with the flow, the party moved upstairs to the outdoor patio where it was much easier to talk. I discussed it before but getting to know all these lovely people really made my trip. I’ve heard stories that back at the hotel the party raged on but I chose to hit up the hot tub with the group briefly before before heading to bed. The mystery games were slated to begin in the morning and I wanted to be up for anything that might be thrown my way.

In the morning, the #omniten were in for one more treat before the #omnigames were revealed. Columbia has been developing a down-synthetic hybrid jacket called “The Turbo Down,” due to hit the market this fall. As if we were not already fully outfitted in Columbia gear, each one of us received a prototype of the jacket!

After the Turbo Down excitement, it was finally time to load up and head out for for the #omnigames. We’d been told to dress as if we were going skiing minus the ski boots but that still didn’t give too much away about what we’d actually be doing. As we pulled onto a snow covered road there were parts of me that were hoping for some serious cross-country snowshoeing—I thought that was something I might be able to eek out an advantage in! Alas, it was not but outside the ranch building there were sled dogs and snowmobiles—our first real hints to what might await us.

Photo courtesy AnneCarneyPhotography.com

As it turned out we were competing in all manner of outdoor activities. As Daniel read through the list and briefly explained each one, I have to admit to only half listening. The impending competition had me pumped up, nervous, and ready to get this show on the road. I heard “shooting,” “dog sledding,” “fire,” “avalanche beacon,” “skiing,” “ropes course,” “free fall,” “shelter,” and “Charles Dickens”: thoughts about strategy, strong points, and weaknesses began flowing. I knew I could start a fire with matches but I had a sneaking suspicion that they wouldn’t be part of our supplies. I felt relatively confident about all the other events but I was surrounded by tough competitors and really felt like this was anyone’s game.

Next it was announced that we’d be competing in teams of two: one winter #omniten and one summer to a team. I was deep in thought when Daniel called me up to draw a teammate. I drew Justin Lukasavige. Although he and I followed each other on Twitter, we hadn’t spoken much before the games. Amped up on #omnigames, I think the first thing I asked him was, “Can you make a fire?” Taking everything in stride, Justin told me he could and we sat down for the announcement of the #omnigames prize.

A trip to JORDAN.

The room of #omniten was palpably buzzing with the news. Thankfully, it was finally time to get down to having fun in the snow. Justin and I started our day with dog sledding. I love dogs and it was immediately obvious that these dogs love pulling that sled. They had so much energy yipping, barking, and leaping while waiting for their turn to be tied to the sled. (Interestingly, when I got home Sprocket had developed an odd habit of barking like a sled dog while running next to the quad…) Riding with Racer and his team was an experience to remember.

Photo courtesy WildernessDave.com

Unloading from the sled, Justin and I took the quiz associated with dog sledding and headed inside to get ready for snowmobiling. There was a little part of me that was sort of sad that riding the snowmobiles themselves wasn’t scored although that was probably for the best since the last time I was on a snowmobile I “ghost rode” it off the path… Instead, we were to be scored on archery.

Photo courtesy WildernessDave.com

To be quite honest when they said “shooting” in the #omnigames intro, I was picturing shooting a .22 or something à la biathlon and got way excited. I haven’t shot a bow and arrow since I was twelve but was determined to do well. After hitting the first shot I took a deep breath and hit the next. I could hear cheering for Justin beside me: we were doing well! Katie started calling me Katniss and I must admit comparison to an awesome fictional character made me smile a little bit—especially in a competition that absolutely demanded comparisons to The Hunger Games.

Next it was off to build a shelter. Teams were given twenty minutes to create a shelter with a tarp, four pieces of paracord, two nice straight aspen poles, and a snow shovel. Justin and I agreed that the best way to approach this was to keep it nice and low out of the wind, as small as possible to conserve body heat, and to face it out of the prevailing wind. In about ten minutes we had a shelter we were pretty happy with so we spent the rest of our time adding additional snow insulation, even going so far as to build a “snow berm” near the entrance. It wound up looking like a tarp on the ground but it would totally work in a pinch!

Since Justin and I were proving to be quite a duo, a little bit of an edge had been taken off the fire building challenge. Given wood, a magnesium fire starter, and some newspaper, we got to work. Justin did a fantastic job manning the fire starter while I broke off the thin ends of the wood and held the BBQ lid to keep our work area dry. After singeing some holes in the paper without attaining fire, I started to get nervous. Before panic set in, we had flame! Without discussion, Justin and I morphed into action. We were judiciously adding small pieces of wood and got the fire large enough to put the grate and pot of water on quickly. We took turns being human billows to get the fire roaring; deciding if a little water is good, a lot is better so we built the fire up around the pot. As the clock ticked, bubbles began to form and our billows efforts continued. Soon, to my immense delight and relief, we had a rolling boil.

Headed back to the warmth to get some lunch, I got the feeling something special was happening. From the stories circulating around us, there were plenty of groups that didn’t get fire and a handful more that didn’t get a rolling boil—we’d done that plus hit our archery targets, built a passable shelter, and rocked the dog sled quiz all while having a blast.

Wolfing down lunch, I was anxious to get out for the final challenge of the day: finding an avalanche beacon. Justin had some experience using a beacon and I’d attended an avalanche awareness course so I knew that as long as we trusted the beacon, we couldn’t go too wrong. Sure enough, finding the beacon was a matter of confidently doing what we needed to do. #omniteam2 had completed Day 1 of #omnigames competition in style!