We battle fatigue in every aspect of our life. In our home life, work life, and even when bowfishing. Fatigue has an impact on our ability to not only perform at our best, but even just to maintain our average performance.
What is fatigue?
How does fatigue affect me when bowfishing?
If you enjoy bowfishing at night or in tournaments, you know a little about the exhaustion and slowing reactions that can be brought on by the long hours. You'll hear other shooters talk about missing every shot after 2 a.m., and fatigue is definitely the culprit. This happens because your brain is calculating so many variables every time you shoot, and it all happens within a split second. You are judging fish speed, depth, distance, and size all while constantly recalculating based on your relative position. With this in mind, you can imagine how much fatigue can impact your performance while bowfishing.
How can I combat bowfishing fatigue?
Fortunately, there are some ways you can prepare before a tournament or night of shooting to reduce the effects of fatigue. Here, we are going to help you identify the top three reasons fatigue might set in and how to avoid letting it impact your performance.
Fight fatigue with nutrition
There are a few items I always carry when I head out on the water to shoot: chapstick, a gallon of tea, and two of my favorite 30g protein bars. I will catch some grief from my shooting partners, but all in good fun. The protein bars are an extremely important part of fending off fatigue. They give me a lasting energy to push through long nights. I always start the night off eating one of the bars; if you wait to eat anything until you feel fatigued, you are too late. Start getting your nutrition in early and keep it going throughout the night to combat fatigue.
Sleep! Seriously, take a nap.
You would think that knowing you will be up all night bowfishing would prompt an afternoon nap or a little extra sleep the night before, but most people skip this very important step. When I add a two-hour nap to my pre shoot routine, there is a noticeable improvement to my performance. I not only shoot better, but I feel more focused and fresh for the entire trip. This tip is especially important if you are typically an early riser and not a night owl.
Use the right equipment to prevent shooting fatigue
Your draw weight matters - This might seem like common sense, but your draw weight will have a big impact on your ability to shoot for extended periods of time. If you are frequently taking shots and find you are getting tired, it could be your draw weight. If you start feeling fatigued, cranking your bow down a few turns might be the best way to keep you shooting straight. If messing with your draw weight in the middle of a shoot gets your nervous, consider a backup bow with a lower draw weight. We recommend our B3 Bowfishing Bow setup. With a 30 pound draw weight, it has enough power to penetrate without the repeated stress of a heavier draw.
Get a deck mat - This makes more of a difference than you might think. As a machine shop operator, I can tell you having an anti-fatigue mat is a game changer. Just like at the shop, I am on my feet for many hours while I am bowfishing. Adding an anti-fatigue mat to your boat deck can save your feet, your back, and help fend off fatigue during your shoot.
Extra Tips for Reducing Bowfishing Fatigue
Carry Chapstick - I use a lip balm just because no one wants to deal with chapped lips for hours on end and no sign of getting relief until morning when you can stop at a gas station.
Stay hydrated - The gallon of tea is my version of hydration. Water is also a good option. ;) The key is to stay hydrated before, during, and after the shoot. When you are on fish, it can be hard to remember to take a break. So hydrating before you start shooting can help make up for those missed breaks.
Take breaks - This could be a difficult concept to some who would prefer to stand and shoot for 8-10 hours straight, but take a break every hour or two. Grab a drink, put on some chapstick, grab a snack, and watch as you come out of that break focused and ready to snipe some deep 10 footers.
Get some caffeine - A little caffeine can be a helpful way to stay sharp, but remember, what goes up, must come down. Avoid sugary drinks and don't over caffeinate. The crash can be brutal.
When it comes to fatigue, a little preparation can make a huge difference
Bowfishing is an action sport. You have to be sharp physically and mentally to perform at your best. There are many reasons you could be slowing down or missing shots during the shoot, but if you take the time to prepare and care for yourself, you can prevent fatigue from being one of those reasons.
- Johnathan Beebe
Johnathan Beebe is an expert bowfisherman from Michigan with 20+ years of experience. He the most recent back to back winner of the Great Lakes Bowfishing Championship (2019 and 2021) and is a proud member of the Loxley Bowfishing team.