I often get asked what I’m doing shooting my bow at 70 to 100 yards with my hunting equipment. Most people think it’s just to see if I can hit the target or that I’m just playing around. Actually, I can hit the target (most of the time!) and it’s just the opposite of playing around; it’s serious business!
Besides the fact that it’s fun and I love shooting archery equipment at extended ranges, there is a very practical side to practicing like this. The biggest advantage for me is that by practicing at long ranges, with something besides my FITA bow with long stabilizers and a 6X scope, is that it makes the shorter ranges seem like a walk in the park.
Shooting your bow at long range with a standard bow, arrow, stabilizer and sight, causes mistakes to be magnified as well as the importance of form. You must also learn to concentrate more on the execution of the shot and where your pin is floating. Instead of the pin covering up the “X” at 40 yards, it covers a much larger portion of the target at 100 yards and takes more effort to float the pin to the center and properly release.
Before I first started to use my bow at longer ranges I figured that it was for cocky people, winning bets and showing off. While I used to practice out to 70 yards or so, I would occasionally fling a couple of arrows at 100 just for fun and to watch the beautiful flight and arc of a well-tuned arrow. My thought was that I wasn’t going to shoot at an animal that far, so why waste too much time practicing there?
I’ll admit, I was very wrong! Several years ago I took up FITA shooting as a minor addition to my shooting and that requires shooting at 90 meters, or 98.7 yards. Of course for this shooting I was using a scope, skinny arrows, tiny fletchings and stabilizers out the wazoo. However, as I shot my target bow at those ranges, I found that when I switched to shooting my hunting setup at closer ranges things seemed a lot easier! I didn’t not have amazing results with 40 yard groups shrinking to the size of a quarter, but I did see the arrows tighten up and the mental picture was much improved.
Now I will not balk at taking my hunting bow and hunting arrows and step up to the 80 yard mark and shoot there for a full hour. I can’t ever foresee shooting at an animal at that range, there are just too many things to go wrong that are not in my control. However, shooting a sub-8″ group at 80 yards with hunting gear is very satisfying and a great confidence booster.
I’ve learned to be much better at floating my pin to the center of the target, I pay much better attention to my back tension shooting and my form has improved as I am better able to pick out flaws. If you have never spent much time shooting your archery equipment at longer ranges, I would highly recommend doing so!