When it comes to archery there is nothing more challenging than a 3D tournament. 3D archery combines all the skills of hunting and target shooting into one exciting sport. A 3D target is a life-sized foam replica of almost any animal you could hunt. This includes deer, elk, bear, boars, turkey, buffalo, lions, and almost any other animal you can think of.
Imprinted on the 3D archery target are the scoring rings. Each ring represents a part of the vitals that would be found on an animal that is being hunted. Typically the centre ring (heart) is 11 points, the middle ring (arteries around the heart) 10, the outer ring (lungs) 8 and the rest of the animal is 5 points. Any arrows that miss the target have a value of zero. Most tournaments or 3D ranges are comprised of 20 or 40 targets.
3D animal targets are placed on a course which is usually a circuit about a mile (1.6KM) long. Every few yards along the course is a shooting lane that has a 3D target at the end of it. In each lane there are several stakes in the ground. Each stake is a different color usually yellow, white, green, orange, and blue. Unlike indoor targets where the distance from the shooting line to the target is known, in 3D the stakes where competitors shoot from are often set up at unknown distances to the target-to simulate a hunting situation.
Yellow stakes are a maximum of 15 yards from the target for youngsters, white are a maximum of 30 yards for traditional bows and recurve bows. Competitors who shoot compound bows without a release use the green stake which is a maximum 40 yards from the target. Most competitors will shoot from the orange stake which is a maximum 50 yards from the target.
The competitors in this category include compound bow shooters with a release and sights, freestyle with all the gadgets attached, and crossbows, among others. Courses which use a blue stake often split the day, competitors who use the orange stake in the morning will use the blue stake in the afternoon. This allows ranges to double up on the animals and shoot 40 targets at different distances with only 20 targets. Don’t let the different categories and stakes confuse you. Course officials will be happy to help you figure out what category you are in. Groups of 4 people will shoot a target at a time. In each group, a shooter will have a maximum of two minutes to approach the stake, judge the distance, aim and shoot.
Shooting lanes are set up to closely resemble the conditions you would find while hunting. A good course will have a mix of wooded areas, open fields, ponds, and targets located up and downhill. Often shooting lanes will be designed with tree branches hanging strategically over the lane or long grass sticking up between you and the target. All of these situations add realism to the course to help simulate the challenging conditions which maybe encountered while hunting.
The biggest challenge to a 3D tournament is judging the distance from the stake to the target. Competitors must judge the actual distance for themselves. Competitors are not permitted to discuss the distance for a target until all people in their group have had a chance to shoot it. Courses are also designed to fool your perception by placing large animal targets far away, or by placing a target on the other side of a hill, valley, or creek so you cannot see enough ground to easily judge the distance.
Each shooter has their own way of judging distance, but the simplest method is to look at the target from your stake and break up the overall distance into smaller 10 yard distances. Count how many ten yard segments the lane can be separated into, then add on the odd amount at the end. So, if for example the target is 37 yards out, count ten yards three times and then add on the extra seven yards. Try to look for trees or rocks in the lane which are ten yards apart to give you reference points when measuring. Practice in your backyard at home and then pace it out to verify your measurement. Estimating distances doesn’t take very long to learn, and it is very good practice for when you are bow hunting as animals never seem to appear at simple 20 or 30 yard distances from you.
3D archery is one of the most exciting ways to compete with a bow-both indoors and outdoors. Tournaments are held every year around the world and a trip to the range is a great way to get ready for the upcoming hunting season. So if you are itching to shoot something other than a round paper target, try visiting a 3D range this year. You will be glad you did.
Copyright 2014 Mike Wilson