One activity I really enjoy once Whitetail season closes is shooting 3D targets. Having a few targets in the backyard and even an elevated shooting platform keeps me sharp and makes archery practice fun for both myself and my daughter.
Over the course of the past several months we have attended 3D shoots in several states. Everything from large “Sponsored” events with hundreds of attendees to local shoots with perhaps 30 or 40 participants. Most of the events we attend are Trad only events, now and then we attend an event that is “Trad friendly” but consists of mostly Compound shooters. Regardless of the type of event one thing is consistent; I always manage to meet a lot of really nice people. I typically walk away with at least one new friend in the Trad community and there is almost always a lot of comments such as “Great Shot”, and you can usually count on some friendly harassment as well.
Now, when attending 3D shoots I am not a fan of keeping score. If I do keep score it is usually at the request of my daughter. She does have a competitive nature and I know she enjoys telling everyone about her scores. For me, I prefer to practice as if I were in an actual hunting situation. I have never seen an animal with rings on their side and in many cases the “12” ring is not located where I would place an arrow. Especially if the target is not perpendicular to the shooter, shot angle is EVERYTHING to a hunter.
Recently at the Howard Hill classic, while shooting the “One Shot, One Kill” round I noticed that on several of the targets, the stake was placed so that the shot was made on an angle. These were almost all quartering away shots. Quartering shots are great, and very ethical , when the shot is made on the animal so that the broadhead finds its way into the vitals. Yet the target rings don’t move on the 3D target and the “ethical” shot on an animal will gain you a 5 at best when taken on a 3D target. I’ll take the 5 please. Now my “score” at the end of the One Shot, One Kill round was horrible. Partially due to poor shots on my part, many were simply because the hunter instinct took over and I placed my arrow where I would if I were in a hunting situation. I remember heading back to the truck very satisfied with my performance, even though I had no prize or trophy to show for my efforts.
Flash forward to yesterday. While attending a local 3D shoot at South Georgia Traditional Archery and Primitive Skills club in South Georgia I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. No scorecards! We had a lot of fun and I still made some bad shots, still missed a few “chip shots” I should have made. All in all we had an awesome time and I realized I was not only able to focus on picking my own spot but I was more relaxed. I was having a better time shooting without the pressure of “keeping score”.
With only 3 months remaining until the season opener here in Georgia I made a commitment yesterday. No more scorecards till hunting season for me. I will still keep score for my daughter if she wants but I will be focusing on making an ethical shot based on the target placement. If I don’t feel the shot is ethical, I may move away from the stake to make it ethical. (So long as it does not introduce a safety concern) Bottom line, this archer is now entering hunting mode. From now until the 2012 archery season closes all practice is aimed at one thing. A clean, humane and ethical kill of a game animal this fall. Today I begin the transition from Archer to Hunter.
May all your arrows find their mark.