Bowhunting Adventures: Shooting a Longbow

September 21, 2023

K. Slye

K. Slye

Hunters pass through the Five Stages of a Hunter; each stage has different definitions of what qualifies as successful hunting. I’ve passed through most of these stages, some quicker than others, and am smack dab in the middle of the “Method Stage.” I’m thoroughly enjoying the process; it’s allowed me to extend my bowhunting season, experience the outdoors in different ways, and test my skills as a hunter.

The Bowhunting Method

The “Method Stage” started when I borrowed my Uncle’s muzzleloader for a season before I bought my own. It continued the following year when I harvested my first whitetail with an inline muzzleloader. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to fill one of my tags using a flintlock muzzleloader, but I’m determined to do so. I’ve taken a step farther with a birthday gift: a 72-inch, 55-pound hickory longbow, made by Rudder Bows Archery.

I have been a dedicated archery hunter for nearly 20 years, which I’ve always preferred over rifle hunting. I’m a successful archery hunter. I harvested the majority of my whitetail bucks and does with a compound bow. I look forward to bowhunting season every year, the cool, crisp mornings, the vibrant colors of the leaves, and the calmness of the undisturbed woods can all be found during the fall archery season in Pennsylvania.

With so much success using a compound bow, I want to up the ante and challenge my bowhunting skills. I’ve set a goal for myself; that is, within 5 years I want to harvest a whitetail with traditional archery equipment. I am just starting on this path, and I will share my experiences, mistakes, failures, and triumphs along the way.

Practicing with the Longbow


After I received the longbow took it out to see what I could do. The string that came with the bow, a flemish twist style, didn’t work with the arrows. I sent some down range, but needed a string with a brass nock point to be consistent. I knew just where to get the string I needed, 60X Custom Strings.

As a novice in the traditional bowhunting realm, I wasn’t sure what type and size of string I required. I called 60X and they walked me through what I needed: a 68 inch, two color Dacron Longbow string. $13 and a few days later, the string was in my mailbox and I was ready to start flinging arrows.

Taking Steps Toward My Bowhunting Goal

One of the first steps to achieving my goal is to become a proficient shot with the longbow. Before going into the woods, I want to make sure I have the skills to ethically harvest a deer. So my first challenge was figuring out an anchor point in order to be consistent with my shot placement. When going from a compound bow to traditional bowhunting I have to completely alter my style of shooting. Without a peep sight it was difficult to keep the same anchor point from shot to shot.

I drew back the bow with the string against the side of my face and the knuckle of my thumb against my jaw. At 10 yards, I could keep them on the target, but that was about it. There was no consistency. I needed better form and a solid anchor point to help tighten my groups. After talking with a close family friend, who was a good shot with a recurve before compound bows came along, I gained insight and refined my form to ensure the same anchor point with every shot.

Making Progress

I changed my anchor by holding the string directly against my nose with the knuckle of my thumb under my jaw. After doing this I was able to keep my shots within a ten inch circle at 10 yards. This allowed me to keep my eye, the arrow, and the center of the target all in one straight line, improving my shot consistency.

This is only the first step on what looks like a long, but exciting, road ahead. I look forward to learning traditional archery and hope to inspire someone to take a similar journey and, as an old friend use to say, “Shoot ’em in the middle!”

Article and photo courtesy of Harvesting Nature. Click here to subscribe to the quarterly Harvesting Nature magazine, and Click here to enjoy the latest episode of the wild fish and game podcast.

Read about a retired soldier hunting a massive elk with a bow on iSportsmanUSA.


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