By Jason Reid
(New York) Practice season is in full swing. If you are anything like me, you spend more time than you probably should in preparation. Up until recently I had never shot on a 3D course. Given the chance, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to match wits with other shooters and break the monotony of shooting the same dots on my target in the at home.
I was after the knowledge of more experienced archers and the chance to shoot under pressure more than I was about the score. After all, the last thing I want to have happen is to blow a chance to fill a tag this fall and will take every chance to practice and improve. As I reflect on my first 3D experience, here are a few things I was able to glean from the crew of shooters who gathered to practice on a rather warm evening.
The first target was an elk, my live target animal in two months. Squaring up to the target I tried not to rush in front of everyone. While plenty of practice at home has curbed the desire to rush, on this first target I had a pretty good case of Gottagetthere-itis and punched the trigger just to see make sure the arrow would hit the target. It wasn't a terrible shot all things considered. On a live bull it would have been lethal. After asking one of the older guys, Bill, what to do about jumping at the trigger, he simply told me to relax more. Maybe it was his grandfatherly tone or my desire to learn more and compete but the advice stuck. Each shot forward I was able to be relaxed in my shoulders, which made a difference in my mechanics as well as enjoying each moment much more than the last. Perhaps I’ve been far too uptight over the years when shooting my bow.
Guessing yardage isn’t the best part of my game. Thank goodness for rangefinders. While there wasn't anything on the line for this round of targets, I did cheat a bit and use my range finder. Not what you are supposed to do, but arrows are expensive and I can’t afford to lose any. Another shooter, Scott, an experienced 3D shooter and bowhunter shared his tips. First, he eliminates any unrealistic distances immediately. This helps free up mental space to dial in on the yardage. We had been staring at the distant bear target for over a minute and he said, “I can find my 30 yard mark fast and that is way past 30, but not quite a 30 + 30.” We both estimated 47-52 yards from where we were standing. As he stood up to the line I snuck a range. 48 yards to the foam bear.
Another great tip he shared with me came as we were looking down a tunnel like trail heavily brushed on each side which imitated a true hunting situation. With a branch in the way and other twigs he said, “Guess a bit further than you might really think and hold tight and low, like you would for a heart shot.” I knew it had to be somewhere again in the mid to upper 40 yard range but wanted to try this technique. Moving my pin to 50, I held tight and low on the foam impala and the arrow hit what would be lungs. My rangefinder read 47 yards.
Having never shot a 3D course before, just having the confidence builder of being able to know I could keep up with others who actually compete competitively on the IBO circuits has done wonders for my confidence. Even if I cheated a few times with the range finder. I recommend getting out of your own little world like I normally am in and find other people to shoot with Plus, having a 3D course cutting through the woods really helps push you to be much better and focused. A great stepping stool as the season approaches.
About: Driven to tell the next great story, Jason Reid combines a passion for stories and gear with the written word. Follow his adventures on Twitter for honest reviews, information and unique stories from around the outdoor world.