Something that I see quite frequently when I go to shoots with people or hunt with others is the reliance on range finders. Everyone, including myself has one. They’re a great tool and I think everyone should have one; especially for bowhunting when you are always trying to make the most ethical shot, being 10 yards off at 60 yards with a rifle is no big deal but with a bow that could mean the difference in harvesting that bull of a lifetime and eating tag soup.
Something I practice regularly in the offseason is shooting unknown distances. I’ll usually walk from my target and toss my arrows randomly from 10 to 80 yards. I shoot random and different spots each set for a couple of reasons. One being that I have to completely re-judge the distance every shot, no two shots are the same. It’s a pain and it’s tough but I know when the time comes, if I don’t have time to range an animal, I still have a pretty good idea of how far away it is. You don’t always have time to range and I’m not about to let that stop me from what might be my only opportunity.
Another thing I really enjoy doing with friends or even by myself is going to 3D ranges and shoots. I shoot every target and after every shot I range it to see how close I was. Doing this really help for a few reasons; one is that you’re shooting at an animal (target) and not paper, it’s closer to what you’ll experience in the field. Another is that it teaches you how to judge using landmarks and any known distances, it seems like a simple concept but without practicing you will lose your skill.
Personally I really prefer shooting in the woods like most 3D courses are, it just seems more realistic to me. I have a hard time concentrating on spots, I guess it’s a form of target panic, but shooting 3D is much easier for me. I’ve never seen an animal with small circle in the kill zone so I would rather practice making kill shots. I’m not saying target shooting is bad because I do that to start the year until I know that my form and equipment are on point. As soon as I know that, I jump into 3D targets or at the very least targets like the Robin Cube that have realistically sized vital zones to shoot at.
Spending the time in the offseason practicing this simple tip can save you a lot of headache in crunch time. For me, it’s more fun than going to a set range and I know it’s going to help me more than shooting known distances. Let me know what you think and if you have any different practices that you prefer.