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Indoor practice: The surefire approach to better shooting


Close range winter archery practice
All photo credits: Brady Miller

You can pretty much say winter is officially here. The majority of the bowhunting seasons are over unless you decide to pick up a late season OTC tag for Arizona. Either way… you shouldn’t hang up your bow this time of year.

The importance of staying in “shooting shape”

A lot of people are in the stages of preparing for the offseason (I know you’re thinking it… there is no off season). If you’re like me, this is the time you’re stepping up your game to become a better shot. Winter means snow and cold temperatures, so normal practice sessions at 60 plus yards are out of the question.

Indoor 5:10:30 shooting routine

Indoor home shooting range

The winter is the perfect time to work on shooting drills to make you more accurate come hunting season. Repetition builds strength and accuracy. You don't need to go to a pro shop and shoot 20 yard distances to improve your shooting. I have a separate room setup for hunting gear, bow tuning and shooting. I can get a distance of eight yards if I shoot down the hallway into my "man cave," but shooting at seven to twelve feet is plenty during an evening after work. It is best to have a dedicated target stand if you're shooting indoors so you can adjust the target height. Also, I prefer self healing foam targets like the Matrix Target System for all my indoor shooting. These targets stop hard hitting arrows effortlessly at close range. Layered foam targets do not stand up to close range abuse and could lead to holes in your wall from arrows blowing through the target over time.

During the winter I perform what I call the 5:10:30 routine. This involves practicing at least five days a week, at less than 10 yards for a total of 30 minutes. I feel this is the best practice for improving your form, working on shot execution and becoming a more accurate bowhunter.

Tools for winter indoor target shooting
Gear requirements are simple for close-range indoor practice. You need a weight, serving thread and a few bare shaft or fletched arrows.

To make this indoor practice even harder, take a piece of string and use a nail to secure the top part of the string to the target. I prefer to use BYC Halo braided spectra bow serving thread or dental floss as the string for the added difficulty. 

Hanging a weight from string on Matrix archery target

Next, attach a small weight to the string to keep it perfectly vertical (think of it like a plum bob). Aiming at the string will allow you to notice when your shots are right or left of the intended point of impact. With a properly tuned bow, you will hit the same spot each time, so a larger circle target face won’t cut it. The string also keeps you honest and ensures you break a clean shot each time.

 Indoor close range archery target practice shooting at string

With each shot, focus on breaking the string. Trust me… it's harder than it looks. Make sure you shoot at different spots on the string or else you’ll break a ton of arrows. To avoid breaking arrows, take a marker and make a few dots on the string for you to aim at. Use a contrasting color so it looks different than your target. 

This is the perfect winter shooting solution because not everyone has time to devote to a winter shooting league when they also have a gym membership, work to get done and a family. Another great way to improve your shooting is blank bale shooting in the winter. Both of these methods will make you a better shot.

In case anyone is wondering if their hunting setup will work shooting indoors... here is my current setup, which is also my hunting setup. This setup is extremely hard hitting and performs well at these close ranges without destroying the target.

Winter indoor shooting setup

Bow: Hoyt Nitrum LD 34" @ 78 lbs.
Arrow: Black Eagle X-Impact


Arrow specs

Velocity: 90.816 ft-lbs
Momentum: 0.5955


Continued below.

goHUNT INSIDER benefits

Winter bare shaft practice

Winter close range bare shaft archery shooting practice

After you’ve gone through this practice session for a week... now is the time to start shooting bare shafts at the target to make the practice even harder. When you shoot a bareshaft everything needs to be perfect. Your form must be spot on, your anchor points must be repeatable, your shot execution needs to be precise and your bow needs to be tuned perfectly. If any of those fail or are not up to par… the bare shaft will not go in the intended direction. 

Caution: if you’ve never shot a bare shaft into a target… it is best to take your first couple shots outdoors.

Bareshaft arrow shooting practice

Fletchings help guide the arrow and also mask form and shot execution flaws, even at a close range. This time of year the majority of my practice sessions are done using bare shafts. There are tuning methods out there that will get a bare shaft arrow touching the string. If you don’t have a bare shaft and a fletched arrow hitting the same spot, then some bow tuning is necessary.

Why aim at the string at such close range?

Indoor archery shooting practice at close range

Shooting at a close distance may seem monotonous, but it will improve your shot. You won’t be able to post cool photos on archery forums or social media of sub 2” groups at 60 plus yards... but you don’t have to prove to anyone that you are a great shot. The time for “showing off” is posing with that dream buck you shot because of your off season discipline. Taking quality shots at the string while maintaining the 5:10:30 routine will make you a more accurate bowhunter. This drill reinforces all the fundamentals of shooting form (stance, hand placement, anchor points) and shot execution. Best of luck this winter on your path to becoming a better archer and bowhunter. Winter practice is all about you… the bowhunter, so make the most of it.


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Connor G. - posted 3 years ago on 01-31-2016 11:03:20 pm

Hey Brady, really liking this routine for the winter months. Can you recommend any books on the subject of archery? Looking to learn more about fine tuning bow setup, building arrows, proper form and the dynamics of the forces present when shooting. Thanks!

Bendrix B. - posted 3 years ago on 01-21-2016 09:13:20 pm
Rochester, MA

This is a great way to practice any time of the year. I shoot a longbow and have always focused on close range (5yd) practice. The vertical line is key too. Get your left/right bulletproof and you'll cut wounding loss. If you're right on the lungs, there is no "too low", and if you're too high, its not lethal arrow. This close range practice really translates into long rang confidence too! Gotta practice at all ranges you'd shoot an animal at, but plenty of close range will tighten up form. Nice post!

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-28-2015 02:46:55 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Thanks, Luke. I know this technique has greatly improved my shooting the past few years. Adding the serving thread as a point of aim is a great way to make this a challenge... even more so when you start shooting bare shafts. Can't wait to hear how your season goes in 2016.

luke g. - posted 3 years ago on 12-28-2015 01:55:10 am
Redding, California

All to often, I hang up my bow during winter months and write it off to being too busy and having poor weather. Thanks for inspiring me to keep shooting. It is always inspiring to see others working harder to be their best!

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-21-2015 12:11:15 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hi Ben. The Nitrum is an amazing bow... and the new technology is a breeze to shoot! I shot a HavocTec from 2001 and the new cams the past few years are amazing. I attached a Bee Stinger side rod STD mount to my Nitrum by drilling out the lower quiver hole to accommodate a 5/16" bolt then used large washers on both sides. The drill barely removed any material. I wanted a tight fit and a 1/4" bolt would have been loose in the quiver hole. Now I can achieve a perfect balance with the back bar. Hope that helps you out. Let me know if you have any other questions and I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Ben H. - posted 3 years ago on 12-19-2015 04:49:23 pm

Hi, new to the site and glad to see some other advocates of year-round shooting! I thoroughly enjoyed the article but have a question regarding your setup that I hope you can help me with. I recently joined this decade by upgrading my primary bow from an 02' Ultratec to a Nitrum. Switching from a target to hunting model has left me with some challenges to overcome regarding setup.

Can you describe how you attached your sidebar to the quiver hole? Specifically, are you using hoyt-specific hardware on the side with the hexagonal recess? I went to the hardware store and an M7 nut/bolt is close, and I'm sure I could make it work, but always appreciate seeing how others approach a solution; there's always room to learn!


David B. - posted 3 years ago on 12-16-2015 12:01:16 pm

Great article. My only other added suggestion is that you can also add practicing shooting while kneeling, off-balance and holding for increasing periods of time before shooting.

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-14-2015 10:02:25 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Robert, I do have to make a drastic sight pin change when shooting these close distances. I was shooting with my sight set at 67 yards when shooting at 8 feet. I normally print off close range marks when I make my sight tape. So my sight tape during the winter has small black dots with the feet distance marked on them.

Robert P. - posted 3 years ago on 12-14-2015 09:53:41 am
Las Vegas nv.

Brady do you use a pin for your sights set for that close of a target?

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-12-2015 10:12:58 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Thanks, Kyle. Glad you enjoyed the article. That is the Matrix target. Here is a link to their website: I've shot a lot of targets at these close ranges through the years... and I am very impressed with the Matrix. The target is build to handle a lot of abuse. Plus you can rotate the target blocks around if you wear one area out. I just got this target a month ago and can't wait to take it out for some long range shooting.

Kyle H. - posted 3 years ago on 12-12-2015 06:27:48 am
Kankakee, IL

Great article Brady. What target is that?

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-11-2015 02:17:11 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Glad you enjoyed the article, Colby!

Colby K. - posted 3 years ago on 12-11-2015 12:15:10 pm
Ogden, UT

Awesome tips Brady! I will be trying it this winter. Thanks!

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 12-11-2015 10:47:15 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Thanks, Tom and Stefan. @Stefan... surprisingly it is not that difficult and I shoot an 80 pound bow. One of the great features of self-healing foam targets. I would not use layered foam targets. Some of the targets that have layered foam on the inside and a foam layer on the outside are difficult to remove. Plus layered only foam targets are very easy to shoot through at this distance.

tom G. - posted 3 years ago on 12-10-2015 08:09:16 pm

Can't wait to try! Great article!

Stefan Wilson
Stefan W. - posted 3 years ago on 12-10-2015 08:08:43 pm
Gilbert, AZ

Do you find it difficult to remove the arrow shaft at that close of range?

Stefan Wilson
Stefan W. - posted 3 years ago on 12-10-2015 08:06:31 pm
Gilbert, AZ

This is a great article! I am totally trying this.