Know your Shot and how to practice it….
Content Provided By: Brian Stephens, StickemArchery.com Pro Staff
At the end of the day no matter how are you work on your property to grow big deer with your food plots or scout for that monster Elk. If you do not make the shot count when it is time to let the arrow go you may come up short. It is great to practice and I love to do it. It is another to practice shooting scenarios to ensure you have prepared yourself for as many situations as possible. I love to use Big Green Targets to dial my bow in and to shoot small areas for accuracy. I also love to use 3 D Archery Targets like the Delta Real-World Buck, Russian Boar and Full Strut Turkey Delta 3D Targets. I will position these targets in a variety of angles to help with real shooting scenarios.
Our approach is that real-world bowhunting sometimes requires the bowhunter to try to make a shot in a difficult situation. It’s plain and simple human nature to go for it. I have many times in the past waited for the “perfect” shot and missed opportunities. Some of them were good calls and others were a lack of confidence in shooting for that angle. My philosophy is to pass up the low-odds shot and always try for the ideal, perfect shot; but when presented with something less than the ideal, use your best judgment in whether to and how to take the shot. If you practice enough in less than perfect scenarios you will know if you can make the shot ethically or not.
Shot Placement And Angles……
Always strive for a heart/double-lung shot, this is best done with a deer standing broadside at the same level or from a reasonable elevation or tree stand height. The next best shooting position is with the target animal angled away at up to 45 degrees or so. This presents a smaller double-lung target but easy access to all of the heart and lung vital area. Some bowhunters believe that angling away is better than the broadside shot, but the heart and lung area is smaller from that angle. Such an angle also increases the chance of encountering a leg bone on the opposite side of the animal and thus denying an exit wound and good blood trail. In these situations I think your archery equipment plays a vital role. A bow shooting an arrow with good kinetic energy and an effective broadhead can ensure good blood trails even if hit bone, ect.. The Delta Archers Choice Real World Target is a great target to help with shooting angles as it allows you to move the target. You can adjust it to whatever angle you want while having the vitals visually shown so you can see how your arrow will penetrate the vitals.
Another pitfall of the angling-away shot is that it is easy to forget that your aiming spot needs to change as the angle changes. If you aim for the backside of the shoulder muscle as you would on a broadside shot, you are likely to touch only part of one lung or miss the chest cavity entirely. The rule of thumb on angling-away shots is to always imagine a line going to the opposite shoulder muscle and aim for that point. When we practice on our 3D targets we will place a target sticker on the target and move it as our aiming point moves for angled shots.
Steep Angled Shots…….
As the angle of the animal varies from purely perpendicular to the arrow, the size of the heart/double-lung target area shrinks. The higher you go, the less the lungs overlap. If possible you do not want to take a one-lung shot on a strong, mature buck because the chances of losing him increase.
Keep in mind that when shooting at steep angles it will make your arrows impact slightly higher than their sight pins indicate. Even with the new angle-compensating rangefinders, this is tricky business and can only be learned through practice and experience. Practice- Practice- Practice. Remember to bend at your waist when shooting at these downward angles. This helps to ensure propere anchor point and resulting in a more accurate shot.
Front And Rear Angles…..
I have been told many times by knowledgeable bowhunters never to take a frontal shot on an animal. I have seen these shots be fatal and also seen deer not be recovered. My feeling is it comes down to the bow, arrow, and broadhead. A fast bow, with heavy arrow that has efficient kinetic energy along with a broadhead that will pass through hide, muscle, bone will be a fatal shot from this angle. A set up that does not fit that description will less likely produce a fatal shot. I had a real world situation in Kansas several years ago when I took a front shot on a mature buck. It was the only shot I could take before he blew. My arrow did not penetrate him enough and he survived. He trailed him but only to find him in field like he never had been shot. With a different bow, arrow and broadhead the scenario may have been different. If possible I will only take that shot if I have no other option.
If an animal is walking slowly and presenting you a good shooting angle, you have the option of either taking the shot or trying to stop the animal. On slow, close, broadside shots, I usually take the shot while the animal is moving. If it’s a little too far, there’s brush in the way, or the animal is running a little too fast, I will stop the animal before shooting. The other option is to consider leading your animal. Not a lot but this can mean the difference between heart/lung vs. gut shot. I shot a deer several years ago that turned out to be less than perfect shot. He was broadside and then took a step just as I released the arrow. I was already aiming a little back and then when he stepped it hit liver. I did recover that deer but it was not until the next day. If you are shooting a smoking fast bow and medium weight arrow then may not need to lead.
I will shoot a turkey if he is moving. Because the margin of error is small it is either an all or nothing shot. I have killed birds walking and missed them to. When I lead the bird slightly it makes all the difference. You just have to talk to yourself when making that shot to find vitals, and then determine if you need to stop animal, or lead shot a little.
Shooting Obstructions And Arrow Trajectory……
Getting arrows around brushy or rocky obstructions is one of the biggest problems bowhunters face. A mistake many bowhunters make is spotting a branch in line with an animal’s vital zone and automatically assuming it is in the way of the arrow. Usually, it isn’t. On the other hand, they might ignore branches above the line of sight to an animal that might be exactly in the arrow’s path. The principle at play is arrow trajectory. An arrow covering 30 yards horizontally will have a significant amount of vertical drop. This trajectory will be somewhere between 1 and 3 feet, depending on several factors — primarily the arrow’s initial velocity. An arrow travels upward for the first part of its journey to the target. For a typical setup — let’s say a 60-pound compound shooting a standard hunting arrow at 30 inches draw — the arrow would fly about 4 ½ inches high at 10 yards. It would sail over a branch at that distance that appeared to be covering the 30-yard target. And it could very likely strike a branch that appeared to be well out of the way, above the target. Here’s a good way to determine precisely if a possible obstruction is truly in the way of your arrow: Estimate the yardage and place the correct sight pin on the target. Then estimate the yardage to any obstructions you think might be in the way, and check to see if your corresponding sight pins cover those obstructions. If they do, either don’t shoot or move to another position. If they’re clear (and the animal hasn’t high-tailed it while you’ve gone through the steps), you’ve got the green light.
Know your Vitals……
The vitals on a Deer are a little different vs. Elk and Hog. Having a visual idea of where the vitals are on each animal will greatly increase your chances of ethical kill. I like to visually/mentally see in my mind where the heart is when I am shooting at a target. This helps me when I am at full draw on a live animal. On a whitetail deer the heart is straight up from the leg and behind the shoulder. I like to shoot my deer in the area called “10″ spot in the image above. Some people like to shoot deer behind the shoulder and that will be ethical but will many times be a lung shot. I like to get the heart with my broadhead as much as possible. With an Elk you have more room for error based on the diagram to the left. The heart is bigger and lungs are larger so this translates to more surface area to hit for vital kill. Keep in mind that if the hit the shoulder the likelihood of kill significantly drops just based on how hard it will be for arrow to penetrate into the vitals. Finally, a Hog is different from both the Elk and Deer as you can see in the image to the right. Again, the heart is straight up from the front legs and behind the shoulder. The lungs are smaller than whitetail deer. The issue with hog is the shoulder shield that can be very difficult to penetrate with arrow. I like to shoot “big hogs” (150 lbs. +) in a quartering away angle so I know the arrow will punch up into the vitals and I do not have to contend with the shoulder shield.
Originally posted 2012-08-04 19:06:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter