Train to Hunt

Competition  Encourages  Ethical Hunting,  Showcases  Woodsmanship  Principles

Photo: Courtesy Tain to Hunt 

Photo: Courtesy Tain to Hunt 

Since 2017, thanks in part to the efforts of the Greater Grand Junction Sports ommission (see story on page 78), the Western Slope has hosted a unique, elite competition that attracts some of the fittest and most committed hunters in the nation. Train to Hunt is a program that prepares hunters for the hunting season. It offers video workouts such as High Altitude Training, one-on-one coaching by certified personal trainers, and challenge events that test participants’ strength, endurance, and archery skills. Fortunately for local hunting fans, two of these events — a regional qualifier and the Train to Hunt National Championships — take place at Powderhorn Resort.

    This year’s olorado qualifier event was held on June 9, with the winners facing those from other qualifier events at the national competition on July 14 and 15. In the competition, participants across several divisions carry weighted packs as they run a two-part timed course that incorporates fitness challenges and archery target shooting.

    Jasmine Johnson, a valley hunter, has won women’s team nationals twice and is a Train to Hunt trainer. “The event is an awesome way to compete in something ... and a perfect crossover to hunting in real life. You will walk into the mountains in not only the best shape of your life, but shooting better than you ever have before. This competition pushes you physically and mentally and forces you to be disciplined in shooting.”

    The founding principals of Train to Hunt go beyond winning a race or hitting a target.

    “Ultimately, our goal is to inspire hunters to train for the backcountry so that they know their limits and make ethical shots, and to educate the public about hunters and woodsmanship,” says Jesse Wise, director of events and marketing at Train to Hunt.

    Elevated heart rate, muscle fatigue, and muscle tremors often negatively impact a hunter’s accuracy. Combining physical exercise with target shooting practice can improve muscle memory associated with shooting form and, in turn, increase accuracy.

    “When we’re hunting, we have a responsibility,” Wise says. “We’re taking a life, and we don’t take that flippantly. That’s why we discipline our bodies, our muscles, and our minds — so that we are able to make ethical shots under pressure. We do not want to hurt the animal. We don’t want to wound an animal and give up. We want to cleanly take that life to sustain our families.”

    Wise adds, “After hiking miles and miles into the backcountry, the other part about being physically fit is having the ability to remove the animal you harvested and pack it out ethically. When a great bull elk gives you 300 pounds of boned-out meat ... you’ve got a limited amount of time to get it out of the hills and into the freezer to avoid spoilage.”

    Train to Hunt facilitates a true conservationist hunting method by promoting respect for the animals and the environment that sustains them, while enabling hunters to access the backcountry on foot and pack out their harvest. To see these principles in action, head to Powderhorn and cheer on the champions. More information at