So, what is 3D archery? Basically, it refers to the shooting at 3 dimensional targets that are life-like. These targets are made from foam and mimic real hunting situations. Originally, these targets were primarily used for bowhunting practice. Eventually, though, shooting clubs started to use these targets to set up courses that would challenge a variety of hunters that ended up leading to competitive venues developing what we now know as 3D archery.
Initially, targets were only deer. However, manufacturers now create targets to resemble a wide range of animals of all sizes, including skunks, moose, giraffes, and everything and anything in between. You can find dinosaurs and maybe even aliens!
3D archery is great for shooting practicing or competition. It is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends while also gaining experience and skills with your bow. If you’re interested in setting up your own 3D venue, all it really takes is a single foam target in your yard. However, if you want to set up a venue on a national level, you can get multiple targets and follow the requirements set forth by archery organizations like the ASA or IBO.
To get started with 3D archery, you will not need anything special. If you already have a bow and arrow, then you are good to go. You don’t have to have a sight and release, but you can use them if you desire. When attending a competition event, there is a good chance you will see high-tech target rids that have long stabilizers. Don’t let these intimidate you, as they’re not require f you to do well. In fact, most archers do just fine with a longbow or recurve.
The most important thing at these events is that you relax and have fun. If you want to have fun, then that’s fantastic. If you want to be serious, compete and get as far as you can, then that’s good too. You can keep score or you don’t have to. It’s up to you. Either way, you are probably going to be charged a fee since the venue needs to maintain their targets.
If you have never attended a 3D event before, make sure to ask about range etiquette and safety ahead of time.
Organization of 3D Archery Events
When it comes to 3D archery events, there are multiple rule sets and formats that the event can run under. Therefore, only basic information will be outlined in this section. Everything will vary, from the exact format of the tournament to how it is organized, depending on the club that is hosting the event; however, all of them will use a similar type of target and the scoring areas will be imprinted or printed on them. The courses may be indoors or they may be outdoors and under an assortment of shooting conditions.
To help you better understand, here is how a standard event occurs. As a general rule, the venue will be setup with about 20 to 30 shooting targets. The hosting club will arrange them at their discretion. For larger tournaments, it could be required to shoot for two straight days and then post a total score for your ranking. The targets are placed in a number of situations and at different angles; however, the scoring area will always be visible to you. For example, you may find that you are shooting from a hill side or an elevated platform one time and from uphill the next time. The surrounding environment may vary as well from an open field to heavily wooded areas. Usually, you can’t use rangefinders to help you judge the distance between you and the target, although some events will allow them to be used on certain days and others will specify the yardage.
Indoor events can be shot from one line where beginners and seasoned shooters will shoot the exact same distances. It is during these times that the shooting class is the only thing that separates you, as you are grouped according to your skill level and that type of equipment that you are using. You can shoot at the targets that are as close to you as a few yards or as far away as 50 yards. It all depends on the venue where the event is being held. In some cases, it may be required that you shoot across the line of the shooter next to you so it is important that you are fully aware of the location of your target as it relates to the archers around you.
Usually, these events are walk-through courses with several shooters per lane. It’s sort of like playing golf, as you don’t move on to the next target until the entire group has completed the one target. Depending upon the shooting class you’re registered in and your exact skill level, you will shoot from a stake in the ground at every lane. For example, young and new shooters may shoot from a 15-yard stake, which is the closest stake to the target, while professional shooters will likely shoot from the 50-yard stake, which is the farthest stake from the target. These stakes are in the ground to ensure that the archers have the same opportunity. In addition, each archer is required to have a part of their body, such as a leg or foot, touching the stake when shooting. If you out of practice or new to the sport, don’t hesitate to ask your group if you can move up a little bit until you feel a little bit more comfortable. While the shot won’t count, you won’t lose your arrows either.
Some people tend to think that the outdoor events are weather permitting; however, it doesn’t matter if it’s rain or sun, cold or hot, snowy or windy, the outdoor event will go on! But, hey, this just makes things more interesting right?!
You get the highest score shot when you shoot the animal in its vitals section. Usually, there are two scoring formats used: 1) ASA, which uses the 14, 12, 10, 8, 5, and 0 scoring areas, and 2) IBO, which uses the 11, 10, 8, 5, and 0 scoring areas. There will be one arrow that is shot at each of the targets with a score read where the arrow enters. This often confuses those new to the 3D archery sport. For instance, a deer target will be set up at a quarter angle away, which would pose the above problem. If you were actually hunting, you would probably shoot the door so that the arrow would enter between the front and rear legs about mid-way. However, in a 3D archery event, you would only score a 5 or an 8. To score a 10 or more, you would need to shoot the outer shoulder of the deer. Some targets will have more than one scoring area marked on them. If you don’t see one, you will usually go with the natural kill zone. If you aren’t sure, simply ask.
Keep in mind that every target will have its individual set of scoring rings. Therefore, it may be a good idea to pick up your own set of reference cards. You can get these from Mackenzie or Rinehart. Also, if your arrow even slightly touches the next scoring ring, it will count as that score. In most cases, you won’t be able to see the rings with the naked eye from the shooting stakes, so bring a pair of binoculars with you and/or have you reference card with you.
ASA has recently began using a high and low 12 and 14 ring that is just outside the 8 ring. To some, this seems strange since you wouldn’t want to shoot the animal in this particular zone; however, it has more to do with this risk and reward for professional and competitive archers. The 14 ring is pretty small and if they miss, then it will result in an 8 score, possibly even a 5. Therefore, the shooter needs to be very sure of their ability to hit that small circle prior to shooting at that high scoring ring.
General 3D Archery Rules and Etiquette
Every organization will have its own rules and restrictions for equipment, so it is important that you know what you are getting yourself into before you go shooting at a sanctioned event. For example, you will be required to wear a collared shirt at ASA events and your arrows will need to have at least a 4” vane on them at IBO events. Depending on the shoot’s format, the maximum distance between the stake to target will vary from venue to venue. Ultimately, there are too many rules to get into here, but there are some general rules and etiquette that can be discussed:
To get any equipment that you might need for your 3D archery event or to check out our blog, visit Full Draw Archery.
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