Hunting Practice

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!

This arrow hit a sapling just in front of the target and stuck there! That’s something that just doesn’t happen on the range!

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!

A Fledgling Archer!

As I mentioned in my last post, this past summer, I attended an event at my local sportsmen’s club that allowed me to try traditional archery for the first time. Since then, it’s become a serious new hobby, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m even getting to be halfway decent!

When I decided to get serious, I knew I’d need a bow of my own. I was worried that this would be an insurmountable hurdle – after all, I was sure good equipment would be costly. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised! While it’s perfectly possible to spend hundreds of dollars, or even a thousand or more, on a traditional bow, a good starter bow can be much more accessible. Lancaster Archery Supply, one of the largest archery retailers, just happens to be located nearby. Their Samick Sage Takedown Recurve might be the ideal starter bow for anyone interested in traditional archery. For starters, the price tag is under $150! The takedown design also means that it’s great for beginners because it can grow with you. A light 25lb. draw weight is a good place to start, but when you’re ready for a heavier bow, you can simply replace the limbs, costing you less and allowing you to keep your familiar riser. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautiful design:

The next step, of course, was practice, practice, practice. An introductory lesson and a few trips to the shooting range confirmed my interest, so when indoor archery season began at the sportsmen’s club, I made a point of being there as often as possible! I got lots of help and advice from the more experienced archers about my form and technique. I also got lots of practice – FUN practice! At the club, regular targets are just the tip of the iceberg. Our targets range from balloons to hanging tennis balls, and even ping-pong balls hovering on a jet of air! The variety of targets adds a little spice, and allows for some awesome trophies when you succeed. You might not think a slain ping-pong ball is very exciting, but I’m here to tell you, it is!

I’m still not as consistent a shot as I’d need to be to start thinking of hunting. I’m still learning, by trial and error, about how small adjustments affect the flight of the arrow and the accuracy of the shot. I’ve enrolled in more lessons, and will start working on 3D target shooting later this year. Still, having some measurable success this early is something I’m pretty proud of! I can’t wait to see where the rest of this journey takes me.