Complacency can be a very bad thing. Becoming complacent – you know, so comfortable that you think you don’t have to keep learning, or striving to get better – is a sure formula for failure. This is as true in business as it is your own personal relationships. It is also true in bowhunting. Here’s an example.
As I do every year, this past spring I was going to set up a couple of new bows for the coming hunting seasons. No big deal, really. The new bows were the latest rage from a major manufacturer with a well-earned reputation for being easy to tune and dial in. So one weekend in an otherwise very busy spring I made arrangements to drive from my home in southern Arizona to a friend’s pro shop in the San Diego area eight hours away. I was going to give a slide show on hunting big mule deer one afternoon, after which we were going to get the new bows set up, tuned, and rocking before I left. Shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours, a good thing since two weekends later I was heading off on the first bear hunt of the spring.
Well. I arrived ready to go, but my new arrows had not arrived yet. Fortunately I had a handful left over from last year, so we used those. One of my buddies talked me into using a new release aid, and I said sure, I love trying out new gear. The drop-away rest I wanted to use, for some reason, would not tune worth beans on this particular bow, so we installed a RipCord and it worked perfectly. In no time I was shooting bullet holes with field tips, but by that time it was time to hit the road for home. (For line go to: RipCord)
The time to make sure your bow/arrow/broadhead combination tunes perfectly and shoots well for you is today, not the weekend before the opening of deer season.
Work kept me from playing with the bows for a few days, but I wasn’t worried. Until I went out to check the tune through my own paper rack. While I was away my new arrows had arrived, all cut and fletched, albeit with a different, lighter fletching. So I went out to the garage, set up the paper rack, and started shooting. The lighter fletches had, of course, weakened the arrow spine some and I was having a heckuva time getting a bullet hole while maintaining the speed I wanted. Adding a broadhead just made things worse. To add insult to injury, the new release my buddy asked me to use (he is a p/r guy in the business and longtime friend, so I had said I would shoot it to help him out with his client) had the worst trigger of any hunting release I have shot in many a year. You could not adjust it light enough; when set at its lightest possible setting it forced you to jerk the trigger and scatter arrows like pellets from a shotgun. The frustration level was at the boiling point.
Finally I went back to my old release and, after spending a half-day tweaking this and that to get the tune the way I wanted it and another eight hours over three early morning shooting sessions setting sight pins, the bow was tuned with broadheads and sighted in to 40 yards. (Now, six weeks later, it is a laser thrower, sending the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter hunting shaft and broadhead (total weight: 410 grains) out at 271 fps and grouping tightly out to 80 yards.) So life is good. (For line go to: Carbon Express)
But it got me to thinking about how dangerous complacency can be when it comes to our equipment. Instead of relying on my own skills and spending the time to make sure everything was in good working order, I assumed that what someone else told me would work fine would do just that. I didn’t allow enough time to be able to fix any unforeseen problems because, hey, I have done this a million times and it is never a hassle. Big mistake. What if I had put this new bow-and-arrow combination together one day and been scheduled to go hunting immediately? I would have ended up in the woods with a less-than-perfectly working bow, which means accuracy would have been iffy at best, which could have meant bad news when a shot opportunity presented itself.
Ethically, this is not acceptable to me, and I would have instead used last year’s bow. Yet every year as I travel around the country to bow hunt I see people in camp using poorly-matched equipment that isn’t perfectly tuned or sighted in. Often they decided at the last minute to add the latest whiz-bang widget and slapped it on without testing. They obviously haven’t practiced with their gear and shoot like Mr. Magoo. This doesn’t seem to bother them. But it bothers me.
With deer seasons now here for many of you, and prime rut time fast approaching, the time to experiment with new equipment is long past. If you are tweaking your set-up, do it now. Not next week, or next month. Right now. The last thing you, as an ethical bowhunter, want to do is hit the woods with a set-up that doesn’t produce laser beam arrow flight with broadheads that you have meticulously sighted in and that you have practiced shooting so much that when a rare and hard-earned opportunity at a deer arises, you’ll know instinctively where to place your sight pins and how to cut the arrow loose so it will hit the sweet spot. Never take anyone’s word for it that an unfamiliar gizmo will work like a charm with little effort or experimentation. Not until it works for you is it acceptable.
We owe it to the magnificent game animals we hunt, to all other bowhunters everywhere, and to ourselves to never, ever hit the woods without well-tuned equipment that we have practiced with until dotting the target is second nature. Because when we’re bowhunting, it is no longer a game. It’s very serious business. And winners are never complacent.