15 shots


15 shots – that’s usually my routine.  Except for a longer shooting session on the weekend, for the most part my archery practice consists of 15 shots a day.   Monday through Friday I shoot my bow early in the morning, usually around 5am after I finish my morning run.  Shooting at that hour means I am doing so in the dark, and while that isn’t ideal it certainly is doable with the use of a spotlight and illuminated site pins on my bow.

So, is 15 shots per day enough?  That will depend upon who you ask.  Compared to bowhunters who grab their bow a month before season to begin shooting, 15 arrows a day year ’round is way better.  What about the guys who shoot hundreds of arrows per week?  I wish I had the time for that, but I don’t.  However more isn’t always better… 15 good shots per day is more effective than heavier volume if one allows form to get sloppy and concentration to lag in a longer shooting session.

The benefits I realize from shooting 15 shots per day include the following:

  • Make ’em count.  When you only have 15 shots, concentration is at its peak and I work hard to make sure each one is executed properly.
  • Time.  For me it’s all about time.  15 good shots take me no longer than 10 minutes to execute.  Who can’t find an extra 10 minutes in their day?
  • Clear my head.  Nothing clears my head better than a morning run followed by archery practice.  The intense focus required causes me to block out everything else and focus entirely on the process of the shot and good execution.

15 shots a day.  For me, it works.  It’s enough to provide me with a daily connection to a sport I love and to also maximize the effectiveness of my archery technique, form and execution.  I’d be lost without it and I’m very thankful that I am able to do it!

Kittery Trading Post


I hit one of my favorite outdoor retail stores earlier this week – Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, ME.  This fine Southern Maine retailer has been serving the needs of New England’s outdoor sports enthusiasts for over 75 years and they’re still going strong today.

Kittery Trading Post, otherwise known as KTP, has something for everyone.  When I say they’ve got it all, they’ve got it all.  Hunting gear, guns, ammo, reloading supplies, archery gear and accessories, camping gear, casual clothing, shoes & boots, skis and winter weather apparel, fishing gear, and the list goes on.  KTP has a department to serve anything you’re looking to do outdoors and these guys definitely have it all.

I can spend hours poking around KTP, and on this particular day I did just that.  I enjoyed checking out the latest bows from the many manufacturers that KTP carries.  Always appreciated by this lefty archer is that there are several different left-handed bows always in stock at KTP.  I perused the gun inventory, both new and used, and fantasized about the autoloading shotgun that I will someday acquire.  I spent a good amount of time in the fishing section checking out all the newest fly fishing gear and I also looked at their vast array of knives, turkey calls, tree stands and ammunition.

Any visit to KTP is a success as it stimulates the senses with many thoughts of outdoor adventure.  On this particular day I’m proud to say that I kept my expense in check and I only purchased four items:  A Quaker Boy box turkey call, a pack of Thingamamobber strike indicators, a Simms wader bag and a Silva Huntsman compass.

If you are ever driving through Southern Maine, a visit to KTP is a definite must-stop destination.  Enjoy!

International Bowhunter Education Program


Last Saturday I attended a full-day bowhunter education course that was administered by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.  Now I’ve had a bow in my hands for 27 of my 44 years on this earth; with that much experience what do I need with a bowhunter education course?

The primary answer boils down to this: Thus far in my bowhunting career I have hunted in only three states – Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado.  None of these states require a dedicated bowhunter education course in order to obtain an archery hunting license.  By contrast, any person who wishes to bow hunt in the following states is required to have a bowhunter education certificate: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.  Additionally, the Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec have similar requirements.

The course I attended was the International Bowhunter Education Program.  This curriculum is recognized in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces, 3 Northwest Territories, Mexico and 13 additional foreign countries.  The class was administered by volunteer instructors from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, with primary points of emphasis as follows:

  • Wildlife conservation
  • Safe and responsible bowhunting techniques
  • Equipment knowledge and maintenance
  • Proper shot placement and game recovery techniques
  • Outdoor preparedness

Despite entering the class with mixed expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  It’s always nice to have an opportunity to gather with people who share a passion for the outdoors, and from my perspective it’s even better when it’s focused on archery and bowhunting.  The only piece of anxiety was the test at the end of the day; I can’t remember the last time I actually had to take a test!  I passed with flying colors and I’ll receive my certification card in about two weeks.  After that I’ll begin wondering when and where I’ll plan a hunt with my newly-expanded bowhunting options.  Will it be whitetail deer in upstate New York?  Maybe black bear in New Brunswick?  Perhaps moose in New Hampshire or Maine?  How about all of the above?!?!?!

There are many like it, but this one is mine

“There are many like it, but this one is mine” is an excerpt from the Marine Corps Rifleman’s Creed that all enlisted Marines learn during recruit training.  The Rifleman’s Creed has serious meaning that goes far beyond the analogy I’m about to use; I certainly must acknowledge that before moving on.

So what I am I applying this phrase to?  My bow, of course!  Options for today’s archers have never been better.  There are hundreds of different bows out there that people can choose from.  It’s fantastic to have such a diverse selection, but at the same time it can be overwhelming.  Unless you are one of those people who get a new bow every year (I envy you folks!), when you choose a bow you’re making a long term investment.  Bows aren’t cheap so you want to take your time and make sure you get the one that fits you best.

My current bow was purchased in 2012.  I spent a considerable amount of time doing research before making my decision, and the process was a lot of fun.  Despite being right handed, I have a dominant left eye and thus I shoot left handed.  It’s not a big deal to shoot left handed, however finding lefty bows in stock to test shoot proved to be a challenge.  As a result, I put on many miles traveling around to archery shops to find a sufficient number of lefty bows that I could evaluate and shoot.  The process of figuring out what I wanted took a little over two months to complete and I really enjoyed it.

What was I looking for?  My top priority was the feel of the bow.  I wanted a comfortable draw cycle that was smooth, not jumpy.  I wanted a bow with a solid back wall so I could confidently hold at full draw for extended time periods in a hunting situation.  I wanted it to be quiet and I wanted it to have minimal vibration after releasing the arrow.  I wanted a comfortable anchor point and I discovered that the biggest variable in this area was a bow’s axle-to-axle length.  In terms of my personal preference, I found that short axle-to-axle length bows (30 inches or less) created a tighter sting angle at full draw and that did not provide me with a comfortable anchor position.

What did I end up with?  After an exhaustive search I found a handful of bows that I didn’t like at all, many bows that felt good, and one that jumped out as my clear favorite.  My bow is a 2012 Hoyt Vector 32; it is set at a 60 lbs with a draw length of 29″.  I really love this bow and after thousands of shots I enjoy shooting it now as much as the day I got it.  If you’re curious to see a professional opinion on the Vector 32 you can check out a review from Petersen’s Bowhunting Magazine by clicking here.

Despite the enormous temptation to go try out and perhaps buy one of the latest and greatest new bows on the market, I know that my Vector 32 will serve me quite well for many years to come.  I’ve attached a photo below.  This is my bow, there are many like it but this one is mine!

Hoyt Vector 32 w viscosity strings

My 3 essential outdoor items

I see them every single day.  Their location is strategic; they’re intentionally placed in a closet where I am sure to encounter them with regularity.  They are inanimate objects, but despite having no voice they call my name every time I see them.  They are like a dog with a ball in its mouth, staring at you and begging to go outside!

Item #1 – My running shoes.  I am a runner.  I need to run; my body and mind is dependent upon it.  Six days a week I rise at the crack of dawn, throw on the running shoes and head out the door.  Running is therapeutic for me; it helps me sort out my thoughts, plan my day and get my endorphins going.  There is simply no better way to begin a day than with a run.

Item #2 – My bow.  Hanging in the closet right above my running shoes is my compound bow, quiver and arrows.  Typically I grab my bow immediately after my run and I get in a short archery practice.  Shooting after running is ideal for me.  My heart rate is up after the run, so practicing at that time helps simulate hunting conditions by forcing me to focus on a good shot while controlling my breathing.  Archery also serves to clear my head.  While running there’s a lot of thinking going on and my mind wanders on a number of different subjects.  Archery, on the other hand… it causes me to block out all of that and focus my attention on my shot sequence and the task at hand.  When I shoot my bow, there is only one thought…FOCUS.  Even when I only have time to shoot 10 arrows it’s important for me to do it.

Item #3 – My fly rod.  Leaning right inside the corner of the same closet is my fly rod stored in its case.  This is my newest outdoor item; I purchased it last fall to begin a renewed pursuit of fly fishing after a 20 year hiatus.  Last year I had some late season success while catching some panfish and largemouths on a couple of small lakes and ponds.  I enjoy practicing my casts in the back yard and I hope to allocate time this spring to pursuing trout in local rivers.

Every day I encounter these items and it helps me maintain my connection to the outdoors.  Even when I can’t use them, I just like seeing them.  It’s similar to the guy who keeps a classic car in his garage…when it can’t be driven there is still pleasure in just looking at it.  Seeing these items each and every day reminds me that outdoor adventure always awaits.