The day after a recent 3-D archery shoot I spent some time looking at my scorecard and straightening bent arrows. I’ve been using and getting used to a new bow over the past few months. Thus far, my shooting has been confined to my back yard and a homemade target. Without being able to safely shoot at over thirty yards I was curious as to how I would do at distances exceeding that.
For those unfamiliar with it, 3-D archery is a lot like forty holes of golf only you are shooting at a simulated deer or antelope or turkey instead of propelling a little white ball into a hole. And you don’t get to ride in a cart. The targets are set in terrain much like the hunter will encounter in the field.
Because the animals can’t smell, see or hear you it doesn’t teach a lot about stalking. But 3-D archery is fine practice for the moment of truth in bowhunting. For the non-hunter it’s a great way to get outside, have a good time and get some exercise.
A lot of shooters wield compounds with high-tech sights, overdraws, stabilizers and carbon arrows. Many, though, shoot the more traditional longbows and recurves with wood or aluminum arrows. There are divisions and prizes for every conceivable equipment combination. For children, there are different age brackets to compete in. It is truly a sport for everybody. Two of my girls were with me shooting their bows at the same targets I was but from closer range.
My scorecard indicated three misses out of the first six targets I shot at but I was encouraged to see that my shooting improved considerably after that lackluster start.
Archery season is little more than a month away. Now is the time to fine-tune your equipment and make those little adjustments in equipment and technique that can mean the difference between putting venison in the freezer or buying the neat little shrink-wrapped packages at the grocery store.
Take shots from a kneeling position as well as standing. Shoot uphill and downhill shots to learn how you and your equipment perform under a variety of conditions. Practice while wearing the same clothes that you will be hunting in. Will you wear gloves or a headnet while hunting? Your shot will change if you put these on for the first time on opening day instead of practicing with them on in the preseason.
For the next few weeks I’ll try to shoot my bow every evening and will probably go to another 3-D shoot. The week before the season opener I like to change to shooting just one arrow a day. One arrow is all you get when you’re dealing with real animals. That shot has to count. When you take just one shot you tend to concentrate on doing everything right – from the draw and the grip to sight picture and breathing, to final release and follow-through.
With all that shooting you are probably going to wear out those moldy hay bales. Here is a recipe for a portable no-cost archery target that can be made in just minutes. Contractors are using extruded polystyrene foam panels for insulating houses. A certain amount of these end up being scrapped. They will stop an arrow as well as any target I’ve used.
Cut (2) 3’x3′ slabs from scrap insulation panels and layer between (3) pieces of cardboard. Bundle together with packing tape. Anchor the target with stakes layered between the panels or simply prop against a tree. Paper or burlap target faces can be tacked to the front.
Stop in at an archery shop for information on the next 3-D shoot.