This past weekend I went to my very first 3D Archery shoot! Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Longbow Association, this event was exclusively for traditional archers, those that shoot longbows or traditional-style recurves as opposed to modern compound bows.
3D archery is lots of fun, especially if you are interested in the poetry of traditional archery. A 3D course is a hike through the woods with your bow and arrows, stopping to shoot at model game. Mostly the targets are deer, elk, turkeys, and the like, but you can get more exotic targets as well – I’ve seen a stegosaurus, and even a zombie!
The idea of a 3D shoot is basically hunting practice. When you shoot on a range, you are shooting at clearly marked targets at a fixed, known distance. Hunting game is not really so straightforward. There is no convenient sign on a deer saying “I am 20 yards away from you, and here is a big target painted over my heart!” Your quarry might be slightly uphill or downhill from you. The wind may be blowing. There may be a tree or branch between you and it. 3D archery approximates some of these conditions. The targets also have circles showing the vital areas on the animal, so you can see whether your shot would have been a good hunting hit when you retrieve your arrows.
I have only been shooting seriously for about 4 months, so I definitely have a lot of work to do before I’m good enough to consider hunting. Nevertheless, I was exceedingly proud of my performance over the 2 days of the shoot. I learned a ton about how things like slope affect the aim of a shot, and got some practice gauging distance and aiming accordingly. By the end of the weekend I had even made some good hunting shots on my first arrow at a given target. I think that’s pretty darned good for a beginner! Not to mention, I had a fantastic time while I was at it. I’m looking forward to lots more 3D shoots this summer!