Georgia Hunting Land For Sale South Carolina Hunting Land For Sale North Carolina Hunting Land For Sale Hunting Land and Recreational Property For Sale

Know your Range



Knowing your effective range is critical for accurate shots

I remember growing up bowhunting as a teenager during the 1970’s when compound bows were in their infancy. Most held pulleys on brackets attached to the bow limbs. If you were lucky there was a small let off of twenty to thirty percent but that was about it. Even though I harvested my first deer with an old Ben Pearson fifty pound compound bow, I was far from understanding the complexities of bow hunting.

Writers would write stories about archery and bowhunting techniques. Most would write about the effective range of harvesting a whitetail deer at thirty yards or closer. Remember these bows of the era were shooting around two hundred feet a second. With many shooting far slower than this while flinging aluminum arrows tipped with zwicky or magnus heads, often weighing 150 grains or more. Yet in today’s advanced world, we have far better bows, smaller faster arrows and better broadheads. Knowing one’s effective range can be a bit more complex.

While some may disagree with me on this, I maintain that today’s equipment is capable of humanely harvesting game at far superior distances than most are capable of shooting consistently. That being said, it puts the burden on the archer to know how far is too far. While it would be easy to write about an ideal situation, hunters know that rarely exists in the woods and fields with wild animals. That being said, today’s equipment is easily capable of harvesting whitetails well beyond the old 30 yard limits. In fact, under ideal situations, I would argue that the equipment is capable at double this or even more.

Here is where the ethics of the hunters comes into play. The effective range of shooting at game is up to the hunter’s limits, and their ability to know what those are for their skill and the individual situation. Many hunters who are far better shots than I will ever be, have harvested whitetails at distances beyond sixty yards and do so regularly. That being said, personally, I do not feel I am capable of making that shot consistently enough to ever release an arrow at a live animal. There are just too many variables.

Thankfully, a few years ago I invested in the use of a quality laser range finder. The use of this tool has virtually

Bushnell Scout DX is a great choice for range finders

eliminated misses because of bad estimates of range. After some practice it only takes a second or two to range an approaching deer. Selecting the appropriate sight pin and executing the shot. But one step before this when I get into a stand is ranging the terrain around me so I have an idea of how far this tree is, or that bush, etc. When a deer appears, I have a good estimate before I range them for final confirmation. While there are several good brands on the market, Bushnell makes some of the finest and most affordable around. Their lightning speed and ARC built in, eliminates the need for archers to calculate the angel against the distance. The Bushnell Scout, The Truth, are some of the best I have personally used. With the variable adjustments, and settings, I can range trees, bushes and game easily and quickly.

Practice, practice, practice is essential for good shooting. Routine practice at longer distances will build confidence at closer shots. Small flaws in your form will be exaggerated at longer distances. A minor flinch that barely misses the bulls eye at twenty yards, may miss the whole target at sixty. Working on your form at long distances will improve your overall shooting.

Too often I have had fireside chats with hunters who will say something like; “If I can hit a pie plate at fifty yards, that’s good enough for me.” I could not disagree more to this sentiment. Hitting a ten inch plate is nowhere near accurate enough to shoot at a live animal. To execute the shot at an animal, the bowhunter should be able to shoot a group inside three inches at that distance using broadheads. (See the broadhead tuning post from a few weeks ago). Flying field points out to sixty yards and flying broadheads the same distance are two very different things. Practice with your broadheads to know where your effective range limits are.

I am somewhat hesitant to say what my effective range is because every situation dictates how this is affected. Wind, terrain, the mood of the quarry all impact how far is too far. Suffice it to say, the equipment is capable, I have to know where my limits are and knowing this makes the hunt a lot better for me. When I know that I can safely harvest game at forty, forty five or even fifty yards, the deer that wanders in at fifteen is more confidence that I will make my shot and be effective in killing them quickly and humanely.

Lastly, perhaps the biggest mistake hunters make is not aiming. This should go without saying, but too often we miss easy shots because the animal is so close we forget to aim small. Believing it’s a “chip shot”. Over confidence is the death nail for archers. Nothing builds confidence like a perfectly placed shot. Whether its at fifteen or fifty yards, seeing that arrow fly true and zip through their chest cavity and knowing that they are dead is the greatest confidence we can obtain.

Practices at longer ranges, build confidence in your ability, use a range finder and you will be able to stretch your effective range considerably. But remember, if you are in doubt, don’t shoot.