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Shot Placement for Archer


Shot Placement for Archers

As the technology of archery equipment has evolved a disturbing trend is emerging among the ranks. More and more of the television shows are showing the personalities taking very questionable shots at big game. Hoping the effectiveness of the broadhead will cover their poor choice of shot angles.

Regardless of the equipment being used, high energy compound bows with expandable broadheads cutting two plus inches, still does not remove the ethical responsibility of the archer of taking the best shot possible.

One of the best parts of hunting with a bow is the patience it takes to wait for the best and most perfect shot. Granted, a lot of opportunities are not the ‘perfect’ shot, but more times than not, if we wait, the shot is presented. Nothing replaces good ethical shot placement. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the basic concepts of making good ethical shots at whitetail deer.

Shot Placement on Deer

Knowing the anatomy of bucks help to place arrows exactly where they should be placed.

First and foremost – Aim – while this may seem obvious, I cannot tell you how many times I was so caught up in the moment that I drew, anchored and shot without ever taking the one second necessary to aim. The old adage – ‘aim small, miss small’ is never truer than when a living animal is in your sights. You owe it to the animal and to yourself to take the time to aim and make a great shot.

Second, is know your yardage – with the modern technology available today in range finders, there really is no excuse for archers not to know exactly what the yardage is of their target animal. The time it takes to range your animal is so minimal that it should be incorporated into your normal shot routine. A good routine for stand hunters is to range all landmarks around your stand so you have a perimeter, I will sit in my stand and find every tree, bush, rock that is at the edge of my kill zone so I know when a deer steps inside that perimeter I can kill him if the shot presents itself. Anything inside that perimeter I will range before hooking my release to the string.

Third is angles – if you are like me, geometry was never a strong suit. I have always had difficulty understanding angles. But I do understand animal bone structure and knowing this will help to put a broadhead into the proper area that will bring about a quick and humane kill of my target animal.

Far too many archers are taking the full frontal, or quartering towards you shot today. While these can lead to the recovery of the animal, they are very questionable at best. A full broadside or quartering away are the only ethical shots an archer should take. Similar to knowing your maximum effective range for shooting, so to with the angle the buck is standing. Wait for him to turn, if he doesn’t then you get to hunt him again on another day.

Last is know the kill zone – Recently while participating in a 3-D tournament I engaged in conversation about deer hunting and was quite stunned at the conversation. The discussion was about good shot placement. And I commented that in my opinion nothing beats a good double lungs shot. Just behind the shoulder with the buck broadside or quartering away. To the contrary, this particular person said they only make neck shots on deer with their archery equipment. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why someone would intentionally make a neck shot on a deer with a bow and arrow. The neck moves too much, it contains no vital organs and is a small target. The only real hope is spine or jugular vein. Neither of which are adequate targets.

Archers should know keenly the kill zone of the animal regardless of how they are facing. When shooting an animal that if quartering away, focus on a line that will connect your arrow with the shoulder on the opposite side of the animal. This should send the arrow through the largest part of the kill zone – both lungs. Similarly when the deer is standing broadside, focus on a rib, tuft of hair, shadow – something small so when the shot is released it will follow your line of sight.

Hunters in general and archers in particular have to always take the high road and make sure we are always above reproach. By making sure that the one thing we totally control, making a good ethical shot on the game animals is the only way to advance the sport and make sure we recover every animal we shoot.