"For this article, Hunt Lift Eat team member David Stark returns with another article full of tips, advice, laughs, stories, and wittiness wisdom! Are you putting in the summer reps so that you can have season success? If not, it's time to get started! You can follow David over on Instagram @poppastark. I want to give thanks to David for sharing and a BIG thanks to our readers in the Hunt Lift Eat Community." -Josh
“Get your skirt down Alice” If you played baseball you’ve heard it a million times. It’s one of those epithets that has stood the test of time and is a staple in hardball. There are thousands of these quirky and half nonsensical euphemisms sprinkled throughout the athletic world as well as any and all other everyday endeavors, hobbies, and professions. I could tell you some from the Texoma Millwright and Welding world that would make your toes curl! This particular tidbit just happens to stick with me and makes a good attention getter. Yet as fun and memorable as this one is, it is far from my favorite.
There is one, in particular, that is lodged in my frontal lobe like a piece of Fruit Stripe gum stuck on the bottom of a Pizza Hut table in the 90’s. But it is more than just a saying, a half insult, or an attention getter. This is a mantra. A philosophical, obsession inducing tattoo on my soul that was bestowed upon myself and so many others by my Dad. These words were his tag line to finish every practice of my final year of little league baseball and his only year to coach me in said sport.
“As you practice, so shall you play” are the words he would leave us with every humid Southeastern Oklahoma summer evening. Dad coached Junior High and High School sports for nearly twenty years and every athlete that was lucky enough to follow his tutelage was given these words, just as I was. But what do they mean? What were his intentions? Why was this so important to him? I don’t even know where the saying, in this iteration, came from. I have looked many times and I do not remember him ever saying where he got it.
He was a regular ole Seneca, this man. You all have no doubt heard other iterations of these very words. Often more bluntly stated as “practice how you play." For Dad and his team, this was a rule more so than a slab of inspiration. It meant you were to show up to practice as you would in a game. For instance, with baseball, you came in pants, long socks, belt, cleats, shirt tucked and hat on forward. Heaven forbid you show up in shorts! Those were the days we somehow had sliding practice scheduled. You were to push and give 100 percent effort. Dad didn’t believe in 110 percent. He said if you had that extra to give you were not giving 100 in the first place. It was meant to institute discipline in repetition and it is something that I try to implement in my every endeavor, including my role on the Hunt Lift Eat team.
I have modified this mantra slightly to “as you practice, so shall you perform” mostly because I’m no longer an athlete or musician. A quick aside, if I may. I was a touring musician for almost 20 years and I kept this same intensity and mentality. I would push rehearsal for upwards of 6 hours in a non-climate controlled building so that come show time we would kill and kill we did! I LOVE to practice.
My intention is to illustrate this by giving you all a look at my archery routine throughout the year.
The postseason is relatively simple. I try to shoot daily, as my schedule allows. I have strove for years to shoot 40 arrows a day but have only met this goal a few times but I’m still pushing. I do these reps with the same steps every time and go through them in my head as I’m shooting to keep them fresh. Draw, Anchor, Center Peep, Level, Pick a Spot, Stay Tight, Exhale, Pull Through the Release. I have target panic, so the last three are extra critical for me. If there are any new tips or tricks I've heard about during the season, I will try them out at this time as well. I don’t want to be changing my routine mid-season. Total Archery Challenge just had their inaugural session in Oklahoma, to which I attended and plan to make that part of my regiment every year. Obviously I will do it for fun too! I also journal everyday that I shoot, listing approximate group sizes and any little tendencies that I noticed with bad or odd shots and I do this all year.
During my summer sessions I do all of the things that I do postseason but I start adding different positions and shooting angles. I will shoot from both knees, single knee, my butt, leaning against a tree (standing and in these positions), leaning around a tree (standing and in these positions), from a tree stand with my harness at multiple angles and positions, and through cover such as brush and between trees and so forth. All of this at differing yardages as well.
Late Summer to Season
Again, I still do everything above but now I start to add my layers. Wearing my boots, leafy suit top and mask or whatever head covering I plan to wear during the season along with my bino harness that I am always wearing. This allows me to adjust what needs adjusting and get comfortable with all of the components. The only thing I do not add here are my jacket and base layers because the temperature is still reaching into the 90’s in October when the Oklahoma archery season starts. This will continue throughout the season as well.
I don’t currently add any type of cardio or anything of that nature because I hunt the thick and flat Eastern deciduous forest lands and there are virtually zero spot and stalk opportunities, so 99 percent of my hunting is done from a blind or a stand. But, if I ever get the opportunity to do such a thing I will add whatever is necessary to get the job done.
Shooting year round may be extreme to some, but to me it is absolutely necessary to stay on top of my game. If you’re waiting until the week or even month prior to season to prepare you are doing yourself and most importantly the animals a massive disservice. We owe it to these animals to give them a quick merciful death with the utmost efficacy possible from our feeble, fallible, finite human capacity.
Thank you all for reading and Good Luck this season!
Remember, "As you practice, so shall you perform.."