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Shooting 3-D tournaments makes you a better Hunter

3-D Shooting simulates hunting situations


One of the passion I participate in is shooting 3-D archery tournaments. It is a great off season manner of keeping my skills sharp, builds camaraderie among shooters and helps me to prepare for bow hunting situations.

For those not familiar with 3-D archery tournaments, they normally consist of between twenty-five and thirty three dimensional archery targets. These targets are life size animals of various kinds. Typical animals at these tournaments are; whitetail deer, Mule deer, Feral hogs, javelina, Pronghorn, Big horn sheep, turkeys, coyotes and the list goes on and on. Major target manufacturers produce life size animals of virtually every huntable species in North America and around the world.

A recent tournament held at Saluda River Archery Club in Powdersville, included among those listed above; leopards, hyenas, fallow deer. Others include alligators, carp, and even dinosaurs!

These animals are placed along a walking trail through the fields and woods with marked shooting locations (based on your ability) at unknown distances. The challenge is accurately guessing the distance and shooting in the scoring rings. These scoring rings consist of increasing points based on accuracy. Hitting the animal anywhere gives the shooter a score of 5 points. While a shot within the outlined “lung” area is worth 8 points and a center or “heart” shot gives a score of 10. Many targets now also have a much smaller circle located within the 10 ring that is worth 12 points. And to confuse things worse, some have more than one 12 ring and each target defines which one counts. Most of these are located along the edge to provide a the shooter with a higher risk. Miss the 12 and get an 8. (There are others but we won’t go there in this story.)

Challenging shots test the skill of archers

The great thing I really enjoy about 3-D tournaments is the challenge to make one good shot. During a round, each archer is allowed one arrow per target. So when you approach a shooting stake one must look at the target, guess the appropriate yardage and then execute the shot for the highest score possible. Its important to note that the scoring rings are proportional to the animals natural size. For example, the 10 ring on a whitetail measures approximately six inches across, while on a turkey it’s barely 3 inches. Likewise on a caribou the ten ring may be as much at nine inches, thereby mimicking the vitals on an actual animal.

Bow hunters all know that one of the most critical elements of hunting is being able to quickly judge yardage and then make the adjustments. When shooting up hill or sharply down hill changes the aim point when in the field. And many bow hunters know that we seldom get a perfect broadside shot, so practicing at unknown yardages at animals that are quartering towards or away from you will make you a better shot when it all counts. Add to this, trees, limbs, rocks, or worse wide open fields to compound the situation and one can see how shooting these tournaments can make you a better shot.

The South Carolina Archery Association, (www.sc-archery.com)  The International Bowhunting Orginazation (IBO –  www.ibo.net) and the Archery Shooters Association (ASA – www.asaarchery.com) all organize, coordinate and host shoots across the state and the nation. Many accomplished tournament shooters are also some the best know hunters. Most 3-D archery tournaments begin in February and continue through August. There are usually several held each weekend somewhere fairly close to where you live.

Lastly, for bow hunters, there are classifications for hunters, using their basic hunting equipment. While some serious shooters have bows designed for tournaments, it’s not necessary. Shooting your hunting bow, with your hunting arrows is not only allowed but encouraged. More than anything else the 3-D  clubs and tournaments are about promoting the sport of archery.

Most of the tournaments I shoot, I use my Prime Shift hunting bow with four fixed pins. My classification puts me where targets are never more than 40 yards. This is well within my comfort zone in a hunting situation, and this makes shooting 3-D tournaments a great way to stay in shape during the off season and also promotes the sport.

If you haven’t shot a 3-D tournament, take the time and get some buddies out there with you, it’s not about winning the tournament (although that can happen) it’s about preparing yourself to be a better hunter.