Do you use 3D archery targets on the range?
Square targets are the tofu of the archery world. Your bow wants to eat. But it wants the real thing. And when it can't get the real thing, it should only settle for realistic 3D targets. Here are five reasons why.
1. Adding Realism
Adding the 3D target to the mix increases realism. And cruising bucks often don't provide time to use rangefinders. Branches in the foreground can cause deflections. (Even if your 40-yard pin is on the target's vitals, you're still going to hit a branch at 20 yards if your 20-yard pin is covering it up.) Practice real-life scenarios with 3D targets in wooded areas. You'll be a better judge of distance by using landmarks and estimating how far away the deer really is.
2. Elevating Your Practice
You'll develop a feel for shooting off a small platform by hanging a treestand in your backyard and shooting at a 3D target. This is important because form changes entirely when shooting downward at a target, especially as the angle becomes steeper. To maintain a consistent form, anchor point, and follow through, bend at the waste when shooting from an elevated position. This can take some getting used to.
3. Understanding Shot Angles
Quality 3D targets replicate the anatomy of white-tailed deer. You can use this to your advantage by preparing for challenging shot angles. Quarter the target toward you at close range (15 yards or less) and shoot an arrow in-between the base of the neck and front shoulder. Or, quarter the target away from you and aim for the opposite-side shoulder. Obviously, quartering-away shots are more desired that a quartering-to angle). Determine whether or not shots are lethal by examining where the arrow would've exited, or by pushing it the rest of the way through. For quartering-to shots, the goal is to not hit the shoulder blade. Instead, slip the arrow between the front shoulder area and base of the neck. Quartering-away shots should enter around the last rib and exit near the shoulder opposite of the entry wound.
4. Avoiding String Jumpers
Throughout the years, we've learned an alert deer can jump the string on any shot over 30 yards. You can avoid this by aiming at the lower third of the deer's body. If the deer doesn't drop, your arrow should hit the heart. If it does drop at the sound of your bow, the arrow should strike the lungs. This way of aiming can take some getting used to, which is why practicing on a 3D target before heading to the woods is extremely important.
5. Familiarizing with Other Factors
As it gets closer to the season, start practicing in the clothing you'll be wearing to the stand. If you wear a head net or facemask, practice while wearing it to make sure you can still hit your anchor point. Shoot with your gloves on to make sure you properly grip the bow and feel your release through the material. When the temperature starts to drop, and you pull out the heavy parka, doublecheck to make sure your string doesn't slap the bulky sleeve. These are all important considerations that can ruin a hunt.
Summer target practice can get monotonous if you don't go out of your way to make it exciting. Prepare for real-world hunting scenarios with a 3D target. You'll be confident and ready for whatever comes your way. In the meantime, have loads of fun and fight the anticipation of bow season during the dog days of summer.
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