In my version of a perfect world, there would be no off-season when it comes to hunting. No mandatory timeout between one “hunting season” and the next. One epic hunt would lead seamlessly into another as I moved about the hills, the country, perhaps the world in search of the next quarry and experience.
It was early morning in Arlington Virginia and I was just finishing up an amazing run from Fort Meyer Virginia (home of the Old Guard, Arlington National Cemetery, and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) watching the sun rise over the DC Monuments and back onto post to get ready for the workday as a senior officer in the 3rd US Infantry Division (The Old Guard).
MTNTOUGH Fitness Lab located in Bozeman, MT, has established itself as the elite source for improving mental toughness, physical preparation, and performance research for the backcountry hunter.
They have assembled an impressive team for this task, including Alex Fichtler (Former US Navy SEAL), Ara Megerdichian (US Army Ranger, Lieutenant Colonel and former West Point Instructor), and Jimmy Alsobrook (Mountain Training Legend & National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer).
I know there are many in the hunting community that scoff at the idea of “training to hunt”, that think you can get by on grit alone. And for some, this may be the case. For a limited time. But at some point, age, injury or sheer difficulty will stop those people in their tracks. If you’re like me, and consider physical training to be as integral to your hunting plans as shooting your rifle or bow, how should you spend your limited training time?
There are two sides of the camp when it comes to archery training, whether for competition or hunting. On one side, it is believed by some that you must get in as many reps as possible to become proficient and create muscle memory for shooting. The other side of the camp believes in only shooting good shots, every shot. I agree with the concepts of getting in reps to create muscle memory, increasing your success in the moment of truth. I am also aware that bad reps can do more damage than good. So what are “only good” reps, what does that actually mean?
Target panic. Two of the most dreaded and discussed words in the bowhunting lexicon today. Most bowhunters will experience it over the course of their lives and many struggle with it on an annual basis. In my personal experience, I would draw back, anchor and settle my pin, and then no matter what I did, my pin would always end up just below my desired aiming point.
As the coaches and clients that train at the Mountain Tactical Institute looked deeper into the physiological demands and effects of rucking, interesting questions guided us to interesting answers. As you might imagine, when certain questions are answered, more questions arise.
I stared at the piece of egg sitting there on a hot rock. Man, I thought, that tasted much better going down than it did coming up. I flopped onto my back, a sharp rock digging into my spine, but somehow it still felt good. Something that reminded me I was still conscious and needed to stay alert. OK, I thought, How the f–k did I get here?