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Don't Get Left out in the Cold

Imagine you've planned the hunting trip of a lifetime to a northern state, and when you arrive the weather is much colder than you expect, and has a much different effect on you than you thought. All the will power in the world won't help. If you have the right cold-weather gear, you'll be in good shape. But if you're not prepared that trip of a lifetime will have to be cut short.

There is a definite sense of pride that comes from braving severe elements and coming away with a successful hunt. But the challenge of bowhunting increases substantially. First of all, you have to stay warm, and secondly, you can't let the cold-weather gear to interfere with a good shot when the opportunity arises.

Anyone can stay comfortable in cold weather with some planning and preparation, paying heed to the old advice about dressing in layers. Be aware, however, that walking long distances helps the body generate heat as blood flows to the extremities. Wearing all layers while moving may very well generate too much heat; taking off some layers and carrying these items in your pack until you arrive at your hunting spot may prove wise.

The First Layer
Good long underwear is the first layer. Take advantage of advances in fabric technology with the warmest long underwear made of polypropylene. (Polypropylene is a type of plastic, but of course, when used in clothing, it's modified from its use in water bottles.) Under Armour, Patagonia, and other clothing manufacturers use this material in long underwear because it provides good insulation and draws moisture away from the skin.

The Second Layer
A fleece sweater and woven wool pants comprise a good second layer. The fleece sweater should be made of fiber pile to help keep sweat away from your body. Polartec, for example, provides good quality fleece sweaters. Wool pants are ideal for very low temperatures or windy conditions.

The Third Layer
The third and outermost layer should be camouflage, insulated coveralls. A hood on the coveralls provides an important layer of insulation for your head; a good percentage of body heat escapes from the head. Consider King of the Mountain's quality coveralls.

Essential Accessories
With the torso, arms, and legs properly clothed, you can turn your attention to your feet, hands, and head. Gloves and mittens could be a hinderance to accurate shooting if you're unaccustomed to them. Mittens with the flip-open fingertips will allow you to have your hands free when taking the shot.

Also essential is a wool hat or balaclava type headwear to keep your ears and nose warm. It's possible to stay warm for long periods even on the coldest of days with a proper hat.

Finally, ensure you have good socks and boots. Boots designed specifically for cold weather that feature Thinsulate material are recommended.

As you prepare for the winter hunting season, don't overlook realistic target practice in the summer. All the additional clothing required to stay warm in harsher conditions can affect your accuracy. Be sure that the first shot you take with your cold-weather gear on isn't on the hunting trip you've been planning for months.

Hunting in sub-zero temperatures is not for the faint of heart, but with a little preparation, you will be able to deal with whatever type of weather you encounter.

Bill Phillips has written articles on many recreational activities. He's currently working on an airsoft guns website, which offers a wealth of information and advice about selecting and using airsoft guns, including mp5 airsoft guns, cheap electric airsoft guns, cheap electric airsoft gun and more.

The Challenge of Judging Distance

Here's a multiple choice pop quiz for you.
  1. If you dropped a bowling ball and a marble from the same height, which would land first?
    1. The bowling ball
    2. The marble
    3. They would land at the same time
    4. It's unpredictable
  2. If you fired a rifle at shoulder height, parallel to the ground, and dropped a bullet from shoulder height at the same instant, which would land first?
    1. The bullet that you dropped
    2. The bullet that was fired
    3. They would land at the same time
    4. It's unpredictable
You might be surprised that the answer to both questions is "3." The reason that the bowling ball and the marble fall at the same rate is because the weight of the object doesn't make an object fall faster. Even a feather would fall at the same speed as a bowling ball if it weren't for the air resistance. For the second question, the speed at which the fired bullet falls to the ground is unaffected by its horizontal speed. The fired bullet and the dropped bullet would fall to the ground at the same exact time.

Understanding these basic truths from physics will help you understand why judging distance is so critical in archery. Let's say your bow fires an arrow at 400 feet per second, and your rifle has a muzzle velocity of 2,500 feet per second. If you fired both the rifle and the bow horizontally, from shoulder height, the arrow and the bullet will land at the same time. However, the bullet will have traveled more than six times as far before it hits the ground. If you have a target 50 yards away, it would take the bullet 0.06 seconds to get to the target, but it would take the arrow almost 0.4 seconds to travel that distance. Gravity has more time to affect the arrow, and in this example, the arrow would have fallen more than two feet over the course of 50 yards.

So the whole issue of judging distance arises because the dramatic effect gravity has on an arrow (and a bullet over longer distances). Many neophyte bow hunters don't realize how important the skill of judging distance is until they experience a heartbreaking miss for themselves. Considering the time, money and effort we put in to get the opportunity to go hunting, it only makes sense to take some time to learn how to properly judge distance before heading out on the hunting trip.

There are several methods for judging distance, but the secret is that they all require practice. One method is to measure the distance to surrounding trees, boulders or other landmarks. Sometimes it's beneficial to provide your own landmarks, such as decoys, or mark branches with ribbons at certain distances. So if an animal wanders in between your ten yard marker and the boulder you know is twenty yards away, you'll be able to accurately determine the distance.

Subtending is a method that everyone will have to personalize for their own use. It involves comparing the size of the animal with something that is readily available for comparison, such as the sights on your bow, or your fingers. For example if you use fixed pins for the sights on your bow, you can use them to determine distance. If your sight pins are set to 5/8 inch, that will mean that the typical-sized white-tail deer will fit perfectly between your sights at twenty yards away. At forty yards away, the same deer would appear to be half the size. If you consistently hunt the same game, this could be a very good way to quickly determine the distance to the target.

Yet another tactic that is popular among competitive archers is to memorize what a certain distance looks like in various conditions, such as ten or twenty yards, and then envision how many of those steps would be required to reach the target. For instance, if your distance is ten yards, and you know that two steps of that distance will put you two yards beyond the target, you know that the target is 18 yards away.

Whatever method you use to judge distance, it's important that you practice it regularly. There's nothing more disappointing than missing the target by inches because you're a few yards off on your distance estimate.

Bill Phillips has written articles on many recreational activities. He's currently working on an airsoft guns website, which offers a wealth of information and advice about selecting and using airsoft guns, including mp5 airsoft guns, cheap electric airsoft guns, cheap electric airsoft gun and more.