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How do I shoot?

Updated: May 6, 2022

If there’s one aspect of saddle hunting that can be a little intimidating, it’s learning how to shoot in all directions. You’ll hear tons of aficionados claiming the benefits of “360-degree shooting”, but exactly how does someone go about that–and, more importantly–is it easy enough so you can feel comfortable doing it in the moment of truth? The key here is to practice. Set up a couple feet off the ground with a few targets out in different directions. To make it easy to discuss shots and where they’ll come from in relation to you being in the tree, saddle hunters often use a clock to reference where they’ll be shooting to. Since you’re tethered into the tree directly in front of you, the tree is your 12 o’clock position; conversely, directly behind you is 6 o’clock. Obviously, that leaves directly off to the right as 3 o’clock and your left will be9 o’clock. The easiest shot of course is what saddle hunters refer to as the “strong-side shot”. If you’re a right-handed archer, this means everything that falls between 10 o’clock and 7 o’clock is pretty much a no-brainer, just as it is when shooting from a treestand. It would be wise to set up so that most of your shots would naturally be in this zone, if possible. Having deer come from in front of you, allowing the tree trunk to hide your position, and then walk directly to your left is the ideal scenario. The next easiest shot–and quite possibly the most fun and the one you probably see in more pictures–is the “drop shot”, which occurs from the 7 o’clock to 5 o’clock position. This was the shot I took on the doe at the end of my story. I simply leaned back, twisted to my left, and allowed my tether to fully support my weight as I braced my right foot against the trunk of the tree just above where I was standing. The nice thing about this position is it naturally puts you in that classic “T” form that so many bowhunters neglect to maintain from a tree stand. The “weak-side shot” is the one that always causes the most concern for beginning saddle hunters, and the one that most observers point to as having the most movement. They’re right, of course–but not any more so than for a traditional tree stand hunter, if you stop and think about it. In a tree stand, you must pivot all the way around on your stand and essentially end up facing the tree to shoot to your right (if you’re a right-handed shooter).To shoot an animal between 5 o’clock and 2 o’clock, there’s a couple different ways a saddle hunter can go about the act: One, if you’re on a pivot-style platform such as a Tethrd Predator, you could simply choose to stand and turn with little steps exactly as a tree stand hunter would, except a saddle hunter would be turning away from the tree instead of toward it. Additionally, he could choose to raise his bow over the bridge and point it at his target, rotating his hips and body to his right as he came to full draw. I personally prefer to allow the tether to hold my weight and rotate all the way around and backwards to my left. This allows me to“hang” at a more natural angle and helps maintain my “T” form during the shot. Finally, the “top shot” occurs by shooting at a target positioned between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. For a right-handed shooter, you simply walk your feet to the left side of your platform, lean out to the left of the tree and take the shot. Some bowhunters find bracing their left knee on the trunk allows them a very steady base as they settle their pin on their target and squeeze the shot off

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