Saturday, May 16, 2009

3-D Archery Practice

Recently a friend of mine, Mike, introduced me to a 3-D course in our area, Country Woods Archery and 3-D range (Saint Johns, MI). I have had my bow for a few months now, and jump at every chance I get to practice. Until I made the trek to Country Woods, my practice consisted mainly of shooting at targets from known distances (20-60 yards). I had shot an indoor screen course a few times at another archery shop in the area, Arrowhead Archery (Eaton Rapids, MI), and really liked the concept behind 3-D practice. The screen course features animals in different hunting situations, and your objective is to identify the vital area, and place your arrow within it. After your shot, the "target zone" displays on the screen and your shot is scored depending on where your arrow hits. This really appealed to me because it trains you to identify the vitals on various game animals.

Since the weather here in MI has finally broke, outdoor 3-D is a new practice option available. I have shot the outdoor 3-D at Country Woods twice now, and am really impressed at the quality of practice it delivers. There are 30 targets in the course and they are each at varying distances (20-50 yards) within the woodlot. Whitetail deer, turkey, javelina, bear, elk, caribou, mountain lion, and wild pig are among the targets featured at the range. Also, the course features 3 elevated platforms as well as a couple of different blind shots.

One of the practice skills that I hope to improve on by shooting 3-D is distance recognition. It is easy to group arrows tightly at a known shot distance, but more difficult if the distance is unknown. Mike and I decided to utilize his rangefinder at the course, but not in the manner most of you might think. Both of us hoped to sharpen our distance gauging abilities, so we would both shoot at the target, and then tell each other what distance we thought the target to be at. Then, Mike would scope the target with his range finder to give the actual distance. Most of the time we both were within 5 yards of our guesses, but a few shots appeared to be closer or farther than expected. This really helps you improve your distance estimation, and I hope to see the results this fall on stand.

As mentioned earlier, the ability to identify an animal's vital area is crucial when bow hunting. Like indoor screen 3-D, the outdoor targets feature vital zones which are identified by a series of rings. Each ring corresponds to a given point value, and that is how you score your shots. Not only does this hone your vital zone recognition, but it gives you a way to measure your improvement, plus adds a little friendly competition amongst pals. I would encourage anyone who shoots a bow to try out 3-D archery practice. It presents you with the traditional benefits of practice such as form and repetition, and adds new elements like distance estimation and vital zone recognition. By shooting your bow throughout the off season, you should become more accurate in your hunting pursuits.

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