STEVE KNIGHT/ email@example.com
YANTIS – When Richard McCarty talks about the needs and the wants of bowhunters he more often than not takes the simple route.
McCarty has decades of experience as a bowhunter. He has also been in the business for 17 years as owner of Lake Country Archery. He has seen hunters, designs and trends come and go, but in reality the basics of what hunters use and need along with their preparation for the fall season in Texas are much the same.
“I don’t think there has been a huge improvement in efficiency or performance in 15 years, but you go back 25 and it is night and day,” McCarty said. “In the last 15 years, we had our performance and speed. The manufacturers have made that performance more comfortable to shoot and a simpler design in the cam system.”
That improvement has come with longer risers while the overall length of the bow has been shortened to make it more ergonomically comfortable for the hunter.
“The bow is shorter by a long shot, but the risers are longer which increases the stability of the bow. They used to have short risers and real long limbs, but the bow wasn’t very stable. With the long risers and short limbs your bow is quicker, quieter and more stable,” he explained.
The design of the newer bows is good it reduces the learning curve for newcomers. Unfortunately McCarty says their shooting skills often develop much faster than their hunting skills and that leads to mistakes in the field. That brings up what he sees as the biggest mistake hunters make.
“I think the biggest thing is bowhunters probably practice a lot and practice long and are overconfident in taking long shots, and the mistake is taking long shots they probably shouldn’t take,” McCarty explained. “Although they are capable of hitting (a target), in a hunting situation it is a little different and they take shots that are a little too far.”
While he has a sight pin set at 45 yards his longest shot in almost three decades of deer hunting has been 37. There are hunters capable of making 65 yard shots in practice, but that number shrinks quickly in the field.
“I kill a lot more at under 15 yards because especially in Texas they are a pretty wired up animals. Pretty string jumpy. Even with a 300 feet per second bow they are pretty string jumpy,” he said.
While he sells Bowtech bows McCarty says it really comes down to personal preferences when picking one over the other.
“They are all good. Really good. Each brand has its own little idiosyncrasies, which someone may like or may not like. I tell people to buy the most expensive bow they can afford because they will shoot it more because it costs more, and will be more proficient. You want to have a bow that you enjoy shooting,” he said.
Personally he has two identical bows that are six years old. He stays with the older bows because he hasn’t found anything he likes better whether for his offseason regimen of shooting 25 to 100 arrows a day or while hunting.
Like any other retail business archery shops are taking a hit from online sales. The problem is that while it may be easy to buy a computer, hunting pants or fishing lures online, that is not the case. It can especially be tricky for newcomers.
“I don’t try to overbow them. I don’t try to get them a bow that is finicky and that requires a lot of maintenance and a lot of tuning. I want it simple simple,” McCarty said.
He added that experienced hunters know better than to pull out their credit card before test-driving a new bow. Most do their due diligence online then come into the shop to make sure it lives up to the reviews.
The same is true about accessories. There are all sorts of things on the market. Many are designed just to push sales. McCarty’s checklist is an arrow rest, arrows, broadheads and a sight.
There are two types of rests and while the fall-away may be slightly more accurate than the capture rest he said most hunters “aren’t good enough to shoot the difference.”
The most common sight configurations are a single-pin adjustable sight and a seven-pin fixed sight. McCarty prefers the fixed sight because it is easier to adjust if a deer moves five yards simply by moving to the next farthest pin.
When it comes to arrow length and stiffness that is easily done based on the draw length and poundage of the bow.
Maybe the biggest question is whether to use a fixed or a mechanical broadhead. He said mechanicals tend to be more forgiving in flight because the fixed blades act as a vane and a shot that starts crooked is only going to get worse.
“That is why mechanicals are so popular. They have less wings to steer the arrow crooked. There are good solid brands. I tell people to get with good solid brands,” McCarty said.
One of the big debates, and in some cases hurdle to new hunters, is about draw weight. It seems that heavier is better these days, but the reality is it does not have to be that way.
“We are all physically limited. I can pull 70 pounds, but in Kansas if I am cold and been there eight hours in tree stand I might not get it back. I hunt in the mid-60s. I am very comfortable with that in any condition,” McCarty said.
He added that Texas hunters should not have any problem on either white-tailed deer or pigs in the 50- to 60-pound range. In some cases even less.
“The thing that keeps it in perspective with me is my wife. She has a short draw length, which every inch of draw length is about five pounds of kinetic energy, all things being equal. So I have a 28-inch draw length and she has a 25-inch draw length. Last year she had shoulder surgery, she had to go down to a 40-pound bow. She had no issues killing, limiting her shot distance,” McCarty said.
And speaking of women hunters, if a man wants his wife to learn to bow hunt he said the best thing they can do is drop them off at the shop and leave. Additionally if they start having problems during practice, do not try to help. Bring them back where either he or his wife, Lindy, can help.
McCarty said when it comes to practicing for this year’s Sept. 30 opener of archery season how much is enough is up to the individual.
“Some people are just naturally better shots than others. Unfortunately the thing is you can’t practice for is the real hunt situation. It is really hard to practice for when a live deer is in front of you,” he said.
His personal style is to practice enough that he uses his bow more as a point-and-shoot weapon.
“It is more like shooting a shotgun for me and that is what I try to get people to do, acquire your anchor point quick, get your pin on the target quick and just settle down. Don’t be doing all the crazy stuff. Have your pin on him when you draw the bow. If you have the pin on him all you have to do is let it settle. It is easier to do if you keep things close,” McCarty said.
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