With less than 90 days for most of us to kick off our hunting seasons, panic mode begins to creep in. I need to get new strings on my bow. I need to shoot more. I gained a little bit of weight over the winter …and spring. Does any of this ring a bell? If so, you are not alone. As summer comes upon us quickly, we realize that hunting season is not far behind it. For those of us that thrive on adventure style hunts, we know that preparation is key to increasing our odds of success. Luckily for us, there are events out there that can hold us accountable and help us really test ourselves prior to the season beginning. This past weekend I attended my 4th Total Archery Challenge at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania.
Photos by: Donnie Wilson
The Total Archery Challenge is an all encompassing event that makes you get out of your comfort zone with tough shots that mimic real world situations. From steep angles and long shots to tight gaps between trees, it can create some real world shot situations. In Seven Springs, there were 4 different courses with targets ranging from 20-120 yards. The Prime Archery Course was spread out over approximately 5 miles, and needed a ski lift to get to the start of the course. Have you ever been to a 3D event like that?! So how does shooting at 120 yards help you in a hunting scenario when you will not be shooting anywhere near that distance? In the past, I just shot at longer distances for the fun of it, but never really thought of it as an applicable training tactic. Minor mistakes in your form are magnified greatly at longer ranges, and allows you to really dial in your form (or be ready to lose a lot of arrows). Not to mention, the more that you shoot at ranges beyond 60 yards, it makes that 30 yard shot feel like a chip shot.
When asking people on why they wouldn’t attend the Total Archery Challenge, the answers are almost all the same. “I don’t have anyone that will commit to go with me.” That is the great thing about TAC. You can go by yourself and meet friends without even trying! Think of it as an event with 1,000-2,000 like-minded individuals there all with the same goal to become a better hunter. Over the last 4 years, I’ve met some amazing individuals and people that I am lucky enough to call great friends. Don’t let going solo be a barrier for entry. I spoke with Sean DeGrey, who is the founder of the Total Archery Challenge on the East Meets West Hunt podcast (look for the podcast to be released in the next couple of months). Sean discussed the entire history of the event and his vision for it. He wanted hunters to have an event to look forward to that would help them gauge their skills at that point in the summer to see where they would need to improve for hunting season. What he didn’t realize was the amount of relationships and bonds that it would create.
Photos by: Brandon Hall
This is a family event that everyone should be marking their calendars for each year. The Total Archery Challenge is currently held in Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Utah and Montana with additional dates being added in 2019.
More info at www.totalarcherychallenge.com
A special thanks to Sean and Monica DeGrey for starting this event and Rob Chillinsky for his help in coordinating the experience in Pennsylvania!