For me personally, I cannot think of a better way to spend the hunting off season than spending a Sunday afternoon with some hunting buddies at the local archery club shooting their 3D course. Sure, I have the option of shooting in my backyard at distances up to 30 yards, but this may not be an option for most hunters and shooters. So what options are out there you ask? The local 3D shoot for one and here is why you should take advantage.
First and foremost, what is 3D archery? Simple, it’s shooting your bow at a life like stationary foam target in the shape of commonly hunted animals such as whitetail deer, elk, and turkey to name just a few, and some not so common animals such as over sized spiders and crocodiles. Typically, a local club course consists of 25-35 targets at various distances and shot angles with some mixed in terrain and landscape. Most times, when I shoot with family and friends, it's for fun; however (and I won’t dive into this now), there are ways to score your shoots if you are the competitive type or just simply want bragging rights among your club and or circle of friends.
But what are the advantages of these shoots? Aside from the obvious fun and just spending time outdoors, you can really hone skills that are essential while on a hunt. Like most sports, getting better is all about repetition until it is automatic. At season's end..DON’T put that bow away! Instead of putting that bow away for the summer, head on out to the archery club and get those shots in. Spend some time at their club range and tighten those shot groups.
You are staying in shape and FIT for hunting. Depending on your type of shot course, you are staying in shape for that trek through the woods or up the mountain. If you hunt in the North East like I do, then you know the woods are thick; the terrain can be a little dicey with leaves covering the uneven ground below it. Because of this region we live in, the archery club shoots near my home are set up the way you would expect on a hunt.
GEAR can be tuned and adjusted. In the off season, that is when you should be testing new gear or adjusting your current set up to make sure it's ready to go come hunting season. It’s also an ideal time to work on estimating distances. There is always that possibility while in the field that you may not have a Garmin sight or have time to pull that rangefinder out of your pocket. So why be in your tree stand or blind, wondering if that peep sight will draw to its point with no twist in it or the pins are dialed in or if you will have time to range that animal?
At the root of all this and what brings it all together is CONFIDENCE. You will have confidence knowing that when you draw back on an animal you can take into account all those reps you did, that your gear is dialed in and that you feel fit and strong enough both physically and mentally to release and harvest that animal.
I look forward to this time of year knowing that I will be attending some of the more popular regional archery shoots like The Total Archery Challenge or the Rinehart 100 which I treat like a bowhunter's conference because I have met some of my closest friends at these events. But in particular, the local shoots, because these shoots won’t draw the crowds that some of the larger events do and typically allow for that time you would want for yourself as if you were in your own backyard, preparing for the upcoming season. Finally, have fun at these local shoots. The hunting and archery community is a lot closer than you may think.
If you are interested in some of the non-competitive 3D shooting events mentioned in this blog, see the web links below.
And for the competitive 3D shooters: