Bowhunting is a game of patience.
Patiently stalking the game. Patiently waiting for the right moment to draw the bow. Patiently waiting for the elk to move into just the right position.
Patiently waiting for the blogger to get to the damn point.
The point, dear impatient reader, is that a whole lot of time is spent doing anything but shooting. And at the end of the day, shooting well is the key to success.
Sure, you can spend hours in the backyard slinging sticks into a cube. It’s a great way to work on technique and sight alignment. But that will never replicate the odd angles, elevations and unknown ranges quite like hunting.
Fortunately, our pal Henry Ferguson showed us the light when he shared the gospel of 3D archery competition. Aside from being a top 3D shooter, Henry’s one of the best mule deer hunters working the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He’s what the TV networks would call a subject matter expert. He’s also our favorite model, appearing on the Not Fit To Hunt shirt.
“Shooting targets while the pressure is on is key, and that pressure is definitely there when competing in a 3D archery tournament,” Henry told us.
Held in the woods or mountains (you know, where the tasty animals live), 3D archery matches feature three-dimensional, life-size game targets. These faux deer, elk, moose, turkey and occasional velociraptor are tucked away behind cover, staked out at odd distances, and usually on ground well above or below the shooting position. In other words, in the hard to see and even harder to hit places that real critters tend to hang out.
3D tournaments challenge your ranging abilities, skill in shooting at angles, and puts your real-life hunting gear to just as hard a workout as you’re getting.
“Make sure you spend a lot of time shooting 3D’s with your hunting bow,” Henry advises. “For the past 10 years, I’ve been using my hunting bow in matches.”
“When I say hunting bow, I mean the real deal. Bow quiver, shot stabilizer and no lens in my sight. Shooting all the reps with this bow had built my confidence in the package, and that translated to good shots in the field.”
At the end of the day, every time you draw back a bowstring, it’s a learning opportunity. Just as when you have an animal in the sights, every shot counts in training.
Wow, that sounds tedious and boring, amiright? Isn’t archery supposed to be fun? Isn’t everything supposed to be fun?
(Yes, but that’s a topic for another post.)
That’s the best part. 3D competition is fun, its challenging and its great practice. Plus, if you convince your hunting buddies to come along, you can have a little friendly side match action. We know you’re gonna win. C’mon, you’ve seen those clowns shoot. You got this.
And now’s the perfect time to get started. Matches are getting going around the country. Total Archery Challenge, for example, is hitting the ski slopes of Terry Peak, near beautiful Deadwood, South Dakota, in late June. Michigan, Colorado, Montana are all on the docket.
As is our personal favorite stop, Park City, Utah. Home field advantage: Us.
If those aren’t convenient locations, check with your local archery pro shop or state wildlife agency. We’re willing to bet they know of some competitions near you. There’s also a pretty good chance they’re competitors as well and can help you get set up.
(HUGE DISCLAIMER: Before you head out to a TAC event, be sure to check out the events page on https://totalarcherychallenge.com/ to make sure the match is still on.)
One last argument in favor of 3D archery.
Dude, it’s summer. There’s nothing to hunt, yet, and if you sit around any longer, you’re going to have to mow the lawn or paint the garage. Get out while you still can!!!