I have long been an advocate of the philosophy that we are either growing or we are diminishing. I have never been a fan of neutral or stagnant ground when it comes to our growth in all areas of life. Whether it is our education, intellect, spiritual life, work, or hobbies, I believe we are moving forward or we are going backwards.
In the area of hunting, particularly bow hunting, I believe this adage to be extremely accurate. I have experienced both ends of this spectrum first hand. There have been many periods of intense growth in all aspects of my archery life and there have been the occasional times of decrease. I have rarely experienced the latter, but it has happened on a few occasions.
I have shot and hunted enough years that I can pick up a bow after a long time of not practicing and shoot well. I can pick up a bow I haven’t ever shot before, sight it in, and hunt with it immediately. That is a result of years of work and practice, but that does not produce growth and further skill maturity. However, it did not extend my abilities as a hunter or archer.
For me these periods of digression that I have encountered have come as results of being too busy for my own good to make time to practice and grow. It is also a result of growing comfortable and complacent in my abilities. I don’t like to admit that, but it is the reality that I have faced on occasion. What is it that I must do to continue to hone in my archery skills?
I think the first component to consider is so simple, yet for those who get in the industry it is easy to miss. I must keep it fun. Sometimes the pressure of having hunting clients traveling all over the world, to harvest high quality animals, or to produce written material all take away a bit of the fun if I allow it to do so. Sometimes the pressure that comes with these aspects of my life make it very job like and that was never the intent. There is a job to be done, but I got into archery because I love it and I got into the business portions that come with it because I enjoy them greatly. My first check on my list is just simply to keep it fun.
The next aspect that keeps me growing forward is to continue to keep it real and not take myself to seriously. I need to continue to just share the Journey of life that I am on in its purest form with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. Keeping it real means I must continue to grow because I want to convey a solid and accurate message at all times. This means I have to keep getting better at all my skillsets so that I can continue to do all the things I love to do in a better way each and every year.
I must stay fresh. Staying fresh means trying new things while improving on the base skills that exist. I have to change it up and keep it new and exciting. I change how I shoot and practice often to keep it fresh. I extend my distances, shoot from different positions, and try different equipment which all help to keep it fun. I don’t ever want my practice time to become religious, but to be something that I always look forward to doing.
I must embrace change. I cannot fall into the mindset of “this is how I have always done it” or “this is the equipment I use.” I must challenge myself with new techniques and methods. I must try new equipment. It is easy to grow complacent with what I am comfortable with, therefore, I must press on to trying the new. This goes for practice and in the field while hunting.
One of the factors that helps me press forward is the blessing of getting to hunt so many new places and species. Each time I take on a new hunt I am driven to get better as a hunter because of the new adventure and the inherent challenges that come with it. I love pursuing new places and species which has long been a driving force that keeps me pressing on toward my goals.
Although I could list more aspects that keep me growing, I wanted to end with the one that I think is most important for the overall sport. I must strive to continue to introduce new people to the sport of archery and the hunting world. This is a great need both with adults and youth. I have seen a decline in the last ten years in parts of our outdoor industry and I want part of my legacy to come by the people that I introduced to the archery and outdoor world. This idea alone keeps me moving forward so that I always strive to be the best version of me I can be.
In the last year alone I have taken many hunters to places they have never gone before and introduced several new people to our sport. I talked and wrote about my passion and exposed others to it. I mixed in traditional archery equipment to my hunting life and picked up a new Bear Archery Fisix Crossbow to expand my use of varying weapons. I have practiced out an additional 10 yards to 120 yards. These are the factors that help to keep me moving forward in my pursuit of excellence. What is that will keep you moving forward?