Online archery crash course aims to introduce more newcomers to archery

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Crackerjack archery hunters weren’t born overnight, but it’s possible to become familiar enough with modern archery equipment to kill a whitetail deer in a very short time.

Equip yourself with the proper gear and spend time at a target distance, and you’ll be shooting tight groups before you know it. Find a place to hunt and follow up with some homework on scouting, stand placement, deer behavior and hunting safety, and you might even get lucky and put some meat in the freezer during your first season.

If nothing else, you can soak up some quiet time in the woods while enjoying one of the oldest forms of hunting known to mankind.

These are among the key messages the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Community Archery Team is delivering with an online archery awareness program aptly called “Bowhunter by Fall”. “.

Think of it as an online crash course in bowhunting and other archery sports intended to whet the appetite of would-be archers and ultimately attract more newcomers to field.

The program entered its third year earlier this summer. It revolves around an educational newsletter to which you can subscribe by entering an email address on the TPWD website. Anyone can register for free. You can unsubscribe anytime.

The newsletter – sent monthly or bimonthly – contains all sorts of valuable tips, videos and links to resources designed to help guide beginners through the initial start and ultimately help them become safe, responsible archers. and efficient.

Wealth of information

Those who sign up can expect to receive eight newsletters over five months until December.

The 2022 editions of the e-newsletter began rolling out in June. Several issues have been released so far, including an introductory issue that explains what Bowhunter by Fall is all about.

New subscribers automatically receive all past newsletters with their first issue. That’s a good thing, because there’s a wealth of valuable information in the bank that newbies won’t want to miss.

Newsletters cover topics such as hunting equipment essentials, practical tips for archery training, finding a mentor, selecting stands, locating areas hunters, understanding licensing requirements, and hunter training certification. There’s advice on shot placement, field dress-up play, wild game recipes as well as helpful advice on accessibility and equipment for adaptive audiences with special needs.

Robert Owen of Austin is setting up the program for TPWD. Owen is the agency’s Outreach and Recruitment Manager. He is responsible for rallying the troops around all sorts of TPWD programs aimed at attracting new recruits out and keeping them there.

Owen says TPWD launched the Bowhunter by Fall campaign in 2020 after the pandemic put a halt to most in-person archery training and workshops traditionally held at the local YMCA and parks/recreation facilities.

“We saw an opportunity through our partners with the Archery Trade Association to use the demographic data they had gathered in regards to preparing for hunting season,” Owen said. “It was a great opportunity to mark it with a specific TPWD contribution to the Texas audience.”

Get off the couch

The effort has been fairly well received so far, Owen said. Polls collected from 2021 subscribers gave the program high marks.

Owen said 96% of respondents said the program provided them with valuable help and rekindled their enthusiasm to get involved in bowhunting, while 82% said the program helped them better understand how to effectively access public hunting lands. He added that 100% of respondents said they plan to take up bowhunting in 2022.

“We know that archery sports like bowhunting can seem to have a greater barrier of entry than gun hunting, so we wanted to help people recognize that if you put a plan in front of you and you follow it, you can be ready when that October 1 season opener rolls around,” Owen said. “It’s about getting started – getting off the couch. It takes several seasons for some people to harvest their first deer with archery equipment. But there are many lessons learned during this time spent in the field. If there’s a better place to be than sitting in the beautiful woods and watching the sunrise from a blind deer, I don’t know where it is.”

Rely on mentors

Owen thinks many prospective students in bowhunting and other archery sports don’t advance because they don’t know what steps to take.

“A guy can have a conversation with someone else and he gets excited about going hunting, but he walks away not knowing what to do next,” he said. “The Bowhunter by Fall initiative is designed to help people take the next steps instead of shooting their bow multiple times and forgetting about it until October 1st and wishing they hadn’t. It’s about continuing on the road.

Part of the newsletter emphasizes the importance of mentorship in recruiting hunters. According to Owen, many would-be hunters may never get into the sport because they don’t have anyone to sow the seed or nurture an interest.

“Ask any hunter how they got started and 99% of them will say they had a mentor,” he said. “Maybe it was their father, their mother, their grandfather or a friend. As we become more and more urban, these mentors are fewer and fewer.

Good places to watch

Owen says new hunters who lack guidance shouldn’t have to look far to find it. Archery shops are great places to meet other like-minded people, as are hunting social networks. Joining an archery club or visiting a local shooting range are good options.

Archery360.com is an excellent resource for beginning archers. In addition to a huge library of informative articles and videos, the site maintains a searchable database of archery stores. Click on the “Where to shoot” link and enter your zip code to find stores in your area offering shooting ranges, lessons, training, equipment and club activities.

Another good avenue for beginning adult hunters is the supervised hunting clinics and hunts offered by TPWD, the Texas Wildlife Association, or the Texas Parks Wildlife Foundation’s Stewards of the Wild program.

All hunts are inexpensive and require pre-registration to be eligible for lottery selection for a limited number of hunts. You can sign up to be notified when the 2022 Hunt List arrives at TPWD website.

Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be contacted by email, [email protected]

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