Archery is an addictive sport and once the archery bug bites most archers can’t seem to get enough of it. A large percentage of archers get involved in archery through hunting, not all but a large number. While there is a lot of intensity in getting ready for the season, shooting at every opportunity before heading afield we find the much anticipated season is quickly over. A kind of depression sets in and archers are soon anxious to shoot their bows even though the season is months away. This is when archers start to look for other opportunities to shoot and target archery is the next logical step.
Target archery takes many forms from indoor shooting during the winter months to various outdoor venues during the summer and fall. The opportunities are endless and are open to all regardless of skill or equipment. The first step for most hunters is the indoor range. Normally shot at 20 yards at paper targets on large indoor backstops most hunters are able to hit the target or come pretty close.
The problem is most beginning archers are accustom to shooting in the back yard with a couple of friends and shooting in front of strangers can be intimidating. Everyone faces this and it is important to remember that everyone at the range was also there for the first time at some time in the past. Archers are a welcoming bunch so just relax and give it a try, you might just surprise yourself and have fun.
Don’t worry about your equipment, use what you have. Use the hunting gear and shooting style you are familiar with. It is not necessary to change anything initially. The main objective is just to get started. Once you get over shooting with strangers, who will not be strangers long but will soon become new friends, consider what changes you might want to consider and make those changes slowly and one at a time to find out what works best for you.
Tournament or indoor shooting normally requires shooting more arrows per round than practicing for hunting. Depending upon your hunting bow weight one consideration might be a set of lighter limbs if your bow allows the limbs to be changed. Another option is a new lighter draw weight bow, assuming your present hunting bow is too heavy for shooting for an extended period of time. If you consider a new set of limbs or a new bow give some consideration to the length as well. While hunting bows are normally shorter for ease of handling in tight quarters, longer smoother bows are better for target shooting when comfort and consistency are extremely important to accuracy.
If you had a sight for hunting chances are it was multiple pin fixed sight. Because target shooters shoot at various distances depending upon the round being shot a single pin adjustable sight is the best option. A good target sight should allow for easy and repetitive changes in elevation and windage. The change mechanism should allow for small adjustments and the sight should be marked so settings can be easily repeated. A good basic target sight can be easily mounted on your bow and get you in the game. There are numerous high-end target sights with many desirable features but before you spend a lot of money on a sight get familiar with target sights in general and the features you find most desirable and are willing to pay for.
For better performance, especially at longer distances consider upgrading to an adjustable raised rest that will provide superior arrow clearance as well as full adjustability for the best arrow flight.
Traditional hunting arrows are normally heavier shafts with large helical fletching. A hunting arrow is designed for penetration which is increased as the weight of the arrow increases. The large fletching is designed to straighten the arrow quickly as it leaves the bow to ensure accuracy as well as increased penetration at short ranges. Everything about a hunting arrow is designed for accuracy and penetration. On the other hand, a target shaft is designed for maximum accuracy as all the penetration that is required is to put a hole in a piece of paper. There are no extra points scored for penetration. So while your hunting arrows are OK for getting started in target archery, switching to lighter target arrows with smaller shaft profiles as well as smaller fletching will increase your arrow speed, enable you to shoot longer ranges with increased accuracy at all ranges.
One other accessory that works well on the target range is a target or field quiver either of which can be worn on a belt and positioned at the shooter’s side. Bow quivers don’t work well on the target range and a target or field quiver will also provide additional storage for all the extras you will find handy on the range.
The word target archery is all-encompassing as it can include shooting different rounds from 20 yards indoors to outside rounds that have targets at all distances. Also, there are 3-D shoots many of which can be shot with your hunting gear, although you are sure to see a mixture of hunting and target gear. There is sure to be something that fits your interest and skill level.
The word target archery can be a little scary for new archers but there is nothing scary about it. The opportunities to shoot, learn, improve and make new friends are endless. Remember every event is just another opportunity to shoot your bow and any true archer can’t get enough of those. Enjoy – have fun.
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