Everybody has an opinion on what distance taking a shot goes from being ethical and right to unethical and wrong. Many eastern hunters will tell you any shot taken on a whitetail beyond 30 yards is too far. Meanwhile, bowhunters out west are wrapping their tag around the horns of antelope and elk that they shot at 60 yards and beyond. Regardless of what your ethical range is, you can likely increase it if you fine tune your bow setup. I recently talked with a few professionals including Jay Liechty from Grim Reaper Broadheads about long range accuracy and why it matters.
Jay believes bowhunters who are serious about bowhunting should hone their archery skills. Bowhunters who are extremely deadly at long range tend to kill more animals than hunters who won’t shoot past 30 yards. Many hunters think it is difficult to accurately shoot a bow at long ranges, but that isn’t the case. “A 2” dot at 20 yards (whitetail target practice) is the exact size in your sight window as a 10” paper plate at 100 yards: 5 x 2” =10 yards, and 5 x 20 yards = 100 yards. If you can hit the 2” dot at 20 yards, your form is good and your bow is tuned, you can hit the 10” plate at 100 yards (you need to hold still after the release),” Liechty said. “When a hunter becomes accurate at 100 yards, 50- and 60-yard shots aren’t that big of deal. I would suggest all hunters practice long range shooting. It will make them a better shot at all distances.”
If your goal is to be able to take a whitetail at 40 yards and you are consistently able to hit a pie plate at 100 yards, that 40-yard shot becomes very doable, especially if the animal is relaxed and feeding. If a bowhunter can increase his effective range in the field by 10 or 20 yards, the odds of success increase. Cameron Hanes once told me he would rather shoot a bull elk feeding in a meadow at 60 yards than a screaming bull at 20 yards that is moving all over looking for a cow. Hanes, of course, practices at extreme ranges.
If you want to be able to kill animals at 40 yards, 50 yards or even 80 yards, there are a few things you can do to fine tune your bow setup and your skills. A bow has to be tuned properly and your arrows and broadheads also need to be perfect. I weigh each broadhead and arrow that go in my quiver to make sure they all weigh within a few grains of each other. If I have a broadhead that is a touch heavy, I match it up with an arrow that is a few grains light and visa versa. I want every arrow in my quiver weighing about the same so when I am letting them fly 80 yards from the target, they all fly true.
Next I spin test every arrow on a Pine Ridge Arrow Inspector. This little gadget is fairly inexpensive and will tell me if any of my arrows aren’t flying right because a bad arrow will wobble on the spinner. Often an insert isn’t square and needs to be reset. Other times there is something wrong with the arrow. I have found over the years that out of a dozen arrows, only six or eight of them fly well out to 80 or 100 yards. If I have a bad arrow that I miss the first or second time, I shoot it at 80 yards. I will know because it will miss the mark by a mile.
When I know my bow and arrows are tuned perfectly, I sight my bow in with the Uno Archery App. It is easy to second guess your sight when you are shooting and I sometimes wonder if my sight is off or if it is me and my form. With the Uno Archery App, there is no second guessing. I plug my bow speed and a few other measurements in. The app displays my pin gaps on my phone screen. This only takes a few minutes and eliminates the guess work of setting up a sight. I can be dialed in at 80 yards in no time so I can have fun shooting instead of worrying about whether my pins are set up properly. Download the app here…http://www.velocitip.com/uno-app-download.html
I start shooting at 30 yards. When I am dialed in perfectly, I start stepping back. I don’t move to 50 yards until I am dead on at 40 yards and so on. I am an Eastern flatlander and I have found that each year, I need to start at 30 yards and work my way back. We have long winters and my shooting form isn’t always very good when the snow first melts, but by the time season opens I am usually hitting a pie plate at 80 yards. Hitting your target at extreme ranges doesn’t take an extreme amount of skill; it just requires work ethic. You need good shooting form when shooting at long distances. The only way you can have good shooting form is by practicing. If you twitch a little when shooting at 80 yards, you will miss the mark. You need to focus, let your body relax, put the pin on the mark, and pull the trigger.
Over the years, the biggest problem I have had is dropping my bow arm ever so slightly. Video taping myself with a smartphone has proven that I drop my arm more than I thought. To cure myself of this problem, I hold the pin on my target until I hear the arrow hit. Over time, holding my bow on the mark until I hear the arrow hit has become second nature and has really helped shrink my groups.
At the end of the day, long distance shooting all boils down to consistency. If your shooting form is consistent, if your arrows weigh the same, if everything on your bow is tuned perfectly, then you can repeat the same shot repeatedly. As Jay Liechty from Grim Reaper Broadheads pointed out, if you can hit the mark at long distances, all of a sudden a 40-or 50-yard shot becomes much easier. Some will say a living animal isn’t a target and you shouldn’t take crazy long distance shots at animals. It is up to each hunter to know what distance they are comfortable shooting an animal at. Regardless of what that yardage is, one thing is certain. If you can drive tacks at 80 yards, your odds of filling the freezer increase even if you are only comfortable shooting at deer at 20- or 30-yards because your shooting form will be fine-tuned just like your bow.
For more please go to: Tracy Breen