How To Prepare For A 3D Archery Shoot

Increasing Success on the 3D Range

Confidence and success enjoyed today due to yesterday's preparation. This mantra would be something that a retirement planner would rehearse, and yet a phrase that is critical to achievement in various life endeavors. Preparing for a 3D event requires a similar approach to preparing for a hunt. An archer should know the critical factors that can bring success or hardship within their respective archery pursuit. By taking the necessary time to analyze the upcoming shoot or hunt, higher scores will be achieved; this makes the sport much more enjoyable, and less time in the days to follow are spent brewing over the points that got away, and the poor shots that should have never happened. 3D archery is a very common form of competition since it closely resembles hunting scenarios and courses can be set up in almost any type of terrain or indoor facility. These courses can be readily found around the midwest, and provide people with an economical way to enjoy archery. The following topics will allow your next backyard or national 3D tournament to be an experience that will help you develop into a more capable archer and hunter. 

  • Learn the format, rules, and course characteristics
  • Equipment considerations
  • Little accessories make the big difference
  • Mental training and executing the plan

Know Your Field Of Play And The Accompanying Rules

Range Finder3D archery exists on a wide spectrum of event formality. Typically shoots are open to the public and participants score themselves while shooting in groups of friends and family. Others may have set start times, and shooter groups are selected based on equipment and age classification. By researching the shoot details it can be determined what classes are available to enter. Typically an open (any equipment can be used), bowhunter (limited stabilizer length, fixed pins in some organizations, no sight magnification), and barebow/recurve classes will be used to divide participants into a more even playing field. Age and gender may also be used in certain situations to reduce class sizes.  Find a list of 3D Shoots here!

Some 3D courses will be “known” or “marked” yardage, meaning the distance from shooting stake to target will be provided, while others will require you to guess the distance and adjust your equipment as needed. Event advertisements will typically specify the format so appropriate preparation can be made. 3D shoots have various maximum distances depending on the format, and what class the archer is entered in. Knowing this maximum allows for no surprises, and is helpful when trying to sight in equipment or assess the challenges that may be faced.

Pertinent information such as shoot location, dates, available hours of competition, number of shots, scoring methods, and team event offerings are all details that can be used by an archer for more direct or relevant preparation. Some shoots occur at night in the darkness, requiring the acclimation to shooting with a lighted sight and illuminated target. Terrain and tree cover can add difficulty to a course. Look at social media posts or learn from other archers who may have competed at your intended shoot to learn what is to be expected in regards to the aforementioned characteristics and rules so you will not be surprised once the day comes to compete. 

Equipment Tuning And Setup

The shot variables presented on a 3D course will require a bow that is properly tuned. These differences in shot angle, distance, wind, lighting, weather, and fatigue will be amplified with an unforgiving bow tune. Since yardages will vary greatly, it is important to have the 1st/2nd/3rd sight axis properly leveled. Walk back tuning a bow allows for tighter left and right arrow impact variation when shooting closer and more distant targets.

The proper 3D arrow is an arrow that flies straight out of the bow and compliments the event format. If the course will have a max distance of 50 yards, consider shooting a larger 23, 25, or 27/64 inch shaft, especially if distance is provided, and wind drift is limited due to trees or if at an indoor venue. These larger shafts when compared to standard diameter 19/64 shafts can greatly increase the chance of catching the line of a higher scoring ring. If target distances are 50-100 yards causing the arrow to be subjected longer to wind drift, gravity, and drag then a micro diameter .166 or .204 inside diameter arrow may be better suited for the job. Smaller shafts can be advantageous for targets that are packed with arrows from other competitors posing the risk of a glance out, resulting typically in a lower score.

Flatter arrow trajectory can be an advantage when courses are brushy so that low hanging limbs can be cleared. When yardages are not provided a flatter shooting arrow can help provide a larger margin of error when judging distance. Some organizations pose limits on speed or bow poundage and may check at event registration stations and randomly on course.

A well balanced bow with a manageable draw and holding weight will result in repeatable hand pressure and cleaner shot execution with minimal fatigue. Some courses are physically demanding due to hilly terrain, lack of shade, persistent wind, and plagued with irritating mosquitoes, making a bow that is easy to shoot, reliable, and forgiving all the more a priority. Points can be easily lost by lazily overlooking your setup and the importance of a proper tune and familiarity with your equipment.

The Little Things That Make A BIG Difference

Shooting StoolAttending a 3D tournament is different from grabbing your bow, and flinging arrows in the backyard. What you bring out on the course is all that you have, and all situations that may arise must be resolved with what is packed in. The essential items needed are good binoculars, and an ample amount of identical arrows. Good optics allow for accurate identification of scoring rings and their relative distance from specific target features such as creases, shadows, spots, other arrows, and black holes due to shot out foam sections. Range finders should be able to compensate for uphill or downhill shots so that the proper sight calculations may be used. The model of rangefinder that you use should range light and dark targets exactly the same, and have adequate zoom and focus capability so that you can distinguish between yardage readings of the actual target versus brush that is in the line of sight.

A shooting stool is a handy way to be able to rest when waiting for other groups to move ahead and to reduce the amount of weight actually on your body when shooting. The pouches provide storage and easy access to the items listed while not being bulky or cumbersome.

A hip quiver or shooting stool is a great way to be able to pack in all the smaller items that will enhance your 3D experience such as:

  • Bug spray(Minnesota cologne) or Thermacell to reduce stress from persistent bugs
  • Arrow lube to reduce arrow damage and fatigue on sticky or cold targets
  • Lens cleaner and Q-tip for scope, rangefinder, binoculars in case of rain or dust
  • Pen/pencil for score keeping and note keeping
  • Phone for taking pictures and emergencies
  • Snacks for long days out on the course (nuts, cheese, fruit, granola bars, crackers)
  • Water
  • Black tape can be used for covering scope housing that may be too bright
  • Extra arrow nocks
  • A multi-tool Allen wrench for adjustments and tightening of accessories
  • Limb legs or kickstand so bows can be safely put down in between shots
  • A scope and peep cover for protection from rain
  • Spare release aid

Having the right tools will keep you competitive and capable when others have overlooked potential variables. As the level of competition increases the margin for victory decreases. Leads are hard earned and hard kept. Those decisive victories are won due to an archer’s ability to adapt to changes quickly and confidently.

Tuning the Brain and Executing the Plan

Since archery is the intense mental game that it is, the most important tool to train, teach, and exercise is your mind. Staying fresh and strong in your shot during a 2-6 hour shoot in either cold or hot weather requires the ability to self analyze. As course factors change a great archer can make adjustments prior to the shot where an average archer realizes the change after the shot, and a poor archer maybe after a series or an entire day of shooting. Most 3D competitions consist of merely 20-40 targets. It is critical to be focused each time and follow the blueprint to a perfect shot. Bounce back from bad shots rapidly and step up to each shooting stake with earnest, confidence, and determination. Enjoy the course and the opportunity to shoot with friends and family. Do not feel rushed through a course, and compete with yourself to be a better archer with each shot. By focusing on the process of proper shooting your scorecard will reflect respectively. Set goals and record the average distance of each course so you can review your performance. Think about what shots challenged you or what points were given up due to mental error or equipment shortcomings. Add this to your to-do list and work on it before the next shoot.

The Archery Country staff is ready to help you find and prepare for the next 3D shoot. Our knowledgeable staff will help you take your archery progression to the next level. Whether that next step is perfecting your sight tape or levels, experimenting with stabilizers for a comfortable shot, building tight tolerance match-grade arrows, or assistance in overcoming target panic, we are here for you.

Keep nocking and rocking Archery Country Nation!

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