Home Forums Campfire Forum how good is good enough?

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    • solo one
      Post count: 12

      I’m new to traditional and planned on using my new recurve last season, but was far from my goal of 5 in a pie plate at 30 by August. So I left it stairing at me from the corner all season. Was wondering how many others have self imposed expectations, and what they are?

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Welcome to the fold, Solo.

      As with any topic, on any site, I’m sure you’ll get varied responses.

      While “minute of deer” accuracy is debatable, think of it this way.

      If you aim for the heart lung region behind the leg…and you’re off 6″ toward the tail, you got liver and that deer will go a long way if pushed, but could lie down and die in a couple hours if undisturbed.

      How good a tracker are you?

      If you’re off 6″ to the front, you hit somewhere in no man’s land.

      Pie plates are 9″ circles… and yea, that is a good kill shot, but if your best shots, standing flat footed on the ground are that varied, can you ever shoot with confidence?

      If you drop your bow arm to see where you hit, that should could go anywhere.

      Here’s another thought, instead of letting that bow “sit in the corner all season staring at you” if you got a few good resources on FORM and HOW to practice, by season’s end, you’d likely have her dialed in.

      I say a resource, because being self taught, then later trying to improve form, I had to unlearn a lot of goofy habits.

      “Picking a spot” is just that! If I’m off 2-3″ from the SPOT I picked, at 20 yards, that is my self imposed distance and I stick with it and of course, all nice shots come at 25. There are guys who can Consistently pick their shot / spot and HIT IT out to 30.

      Form, practiced on a bale at 5 yards or steps, will reap you rewards when you start to shoot at “range” distances. One fine shot often told me, “If you try to improve by shooting at distance, you’ll never be more than mediocre”. He was a fan of the bale obviously and could SHOOT!

      Read. Study. Practice the RIGHT WAY…and you’ll come to a point where you KNOW you can hit what you want at a given distance… then go forth and do! Don’t try to shoot too much bow… more “bad shooters” are born from being over-bowed! Good Luck!

    • Ptaylor
      Post count: 579

      Hey Solo,

      From 30 yards I’m about 50% hitting the target, then maybe 25% hit the “kill shot”; that distance is fun to practice but way too far for me to hunt. Honestly, I’m a poor shot, even at 20 yards. But, get me within 15 yards and I can drill a pie tin all day long. So my hunt distance is 10-15 yards max. If you are only comfortable shooting from 5 yards, then you can still hunt, but you will have to have greater self control to not shoot and awesome woodscraft to get that close.

      Also, even if you can hit a pie tin from 40 yards every shot, it may still take you 5 years to get 20 yards from a deer. Might as well start trying now even if you only shoot out to 10 yards.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Solo — You don’t learn to play guitar by going straight to jazz. For a new trad shooter 30 yards is not a reasonable goal to be shooter for. Some veterans can handle that quite well but they are an exception. Thus, the near universal self-imposed max of 20 yards. Getting close IS trad hunting. First make sure your gear is perfectly tuned, then start at 15 yards and stay with that until you’re so consistent it’s boring with a 6″ bull. Then move back to 20 and, IMO, put all future effort into perfecting shots from all angles and positions, out of breath, etc. real hunting conditions, at 20. I wouldn’t take a 30 yard shot at a world record bull standing broadside. That’s not the trad game. IMHO

    • Troy Warner
      Post count: 239

      Solo, welcome and don’t get discouraged,

      I practiced at 5 then 10 then 15 then 20 having gotten to the point I could put all my arrows (3) per round in a 3-5″ circle, at each distance, standing flat and steady with as little distraction or wind as possible, before moving back to the next one. Practicing at “true” hunting angles and positions at each distance, I’m happy to keep my 3 arrows per round in a 6 inch circle, just so I will be able to put 1 arrow within the kill zone in relation to the “spot” I pick when I’m shaking so hard from the adrenalin of being so close to my query or so out of breath I’m gasping like a fish out of water. Anything past 20 yards my accuracy goes down hill fast. I do practice past 20 yards all the way out to 40 yards being happy to keep my arrows in a 10-15″ circle, and I only do it to feel more confident at 15-20 yards or closer, that being my self imposed max distance on any animal I am hunting. It took me about 10-12 years to get to the point I felt ethically comfortable setting that max prior to that my hunting max distance started at 10-12 then 12-15, and so on as I progressed in accuracy.

      I hunted for ten years for the “right shot” at my first animal with a long bow and she was only 8 yards out, so don’t think you can’t hunt until your ace’n it at 30 just set your limit and stick to it.

      Good luck and keep at it


      Oh and my first 8 yard shot after ten years of hunting……. I missed!! 😳

    • Ed Ashby
      Post count: 816

      Don’t be put off just because your shooting accuracy isn’t the best. Mine aren’t. Just know your effective distance and then learn how to get game within that distance.

      I’ve probably put more time into honing my stalking skills than into my shooting skills. I’ve known a great many folks who shoot more accurately than I, but the average shot distance across my last 627 big game animals was just under 16 yards. It’s not about long range accuracy.

      If one wants to be a consistently successful bowhunter developing shooting skills is very important but developing hunting skills is essential.


    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Dr. Ed Ashby wrote:

      If one wants to be a consistently successful bowhunter developing shooting skills is very important but developing hunting skills is essential.


      Off to the “Quotes” page with this one…

      (and a good excuse to revive it 😉 )

    • William Warren
      Post count: 1384


      Welcome to the obsession! Many have given this advice. Begin practice at 10 yds with no focal point to aim at. Instead, practice focusing on developing your form. Anchoring consistently, releasing consistently. In no time I bet you will see something wonderful begin to happen. As your form gets more consistent so do your groups and before long you will be stacking them in one spot. Then it is time to back up to 15 yds and keep working on that form. Now you can add a target. Remember if your groups begin to get sloppy make sure it isn’t fatigue. Don’t over do it. You can always move back up to 10 and focus on the form again. Just keep at it until you feel comfortable at farther ranges. Good luck and happy shooting.

    • solo one
      Post count: 12

      So the first trad magazine I ever read was the Feb/Mar 2008 issue that a co-worker brought to work one morning. After he lost interest I quickly highjacked it and read it over and over. I was bit by something and started saving $. So I was pleasantly surprised (and a little shocked) to see the likes of Dr.Ed Ashby and Mr Peterson along with others willing to give advice to a rookie like myself. Way, way cool. Thanks everyone.

    • Cameron Unruh
      Post count: 240

      Solo – that is the really wonderful thing about this trad bow world…these folks aren’t in it for the hype. These guys are the real deal. And they really care that you enjoy the full traditional way of life. Not a lot of ego’s but a whole lot of humble investment and encouragement. This one place that I truly listen and learn…

    • jpcarlson
      Post count: 218

      And Solo, that is what makes this forum such an awesome place:) We get to walk amongst giants!


    • JamesG
      Post count: 32

      My take on this subject-

      1. First off reduce target ‘kill zone’ size from ‘pie plate’ or 9″ to about a 4″ to 5″ circle.

      2. It’s great to practice with field points or blunts but all that matters is broadhead flight. BH’s should, within reason, fly like your FP’s. If they don’t, get to tuning your setup and or work on shooting form.

      3. When you can keep 4 out of 5 shots with BH tipped arrows in the 4″ to 5″ circle AND the one flyer (if you have any) is within an inch or so of the 4″ to 5″ circles edge at 15 yards EVERY TIME you practice, you can go hunting.

      4. Yes you read that right, 15 YARDS! Become a better hunter or as I like to put it a better WOODSMAN. That quite frankly is the key to success!

      5. Once you have passed your ‘self qualification’ at 15 yards, you only take shots out to 15 yards. That is your max range in the field!!! Now start working on extending your max range. It may take a year or two or ten but over time you will slowly extend your max range out to 20 or 25 or 30 etc. For what it is worth, most experienced and ethical compound archers will not take game past 30-35 yards so don’t think that 30 yards with a recurve/longbow should be automatic and if you can’t do it then you don’t hunt.

      I’ve hunted hard since 1990 and have taken two shots past 30-35 yards. One at 45 yards and one at 49 yards. One was a coyote and one was a whitetail buck. Both shots were successfull but 90% of all my shots have been under 25 yards and under all hunting conditions, species, and terrain.

    • Jason Wesbrock
      Post count: 762

      There has been a lot of great advice offered so far. First and foremost I want to congratulate you for setting an accuracy minimum and sticking to it. I think if more people did that—no matter the weapon—we’d all be better off. There is simply no substitute for accuracy.

      You asked if others had similar self-imposed standards, and the answer for me is yes. I use a basic 2/3 rule, meaning the longest shot I’ll take at a medium or big game animal is 2/3 the distance I can keep all my arrows—sans the rare occasional flyer—in a target the size of its kill zone. For example, if I can’t keep all my broadheads within the 8 ring of a 3D deer target at 30 yards, I won’t attempt to shoot a real one at 20.

      Probably the best piece of advice I could give you right off the cuff is to remember that archery fundamentals don’t change just because your new bow doesn’t have cams at the ends of its limbs. If you are a good shooter with a compound there’s no reason you can’t easily transition that ability into a recurve—form is form, and archery is archery. The only things that truly have to change for most people switching from compounds to recurves is how they release the string (mechanical release versus fingers) and how they aim (sights versus barebow). Don’t overcomplicate things by thinking the knowledge you’ve gained with a compound doesn’t transition into a recurve.

    • Col Mike
      Post count: 911


      Welcome! Lot’s of great advice above–but re read Dr. Ed’s.

      Yes you must practice shooting skills. But the real thrill is stalking close to your prey.

      That skill opens up the non-hunting season to just having fun and out scouting and seeing how close you can get. Sitting in ambush with bino’s and watching thus learning their daily activities.

      I remember my mentor’s (uncle) guidance way back in 62–shoot one arrow a day–that’s all you get (of course after you get the form down) and–the real” Hunter’s arrow hit’s the prey before the fletching leaves the bow.”

      Getting close is what Trad is all about and that is the effort required. Or you can just get a gun.:D

      Semper Fi


    • WyoStillhunter
      Post count: 87

      I just joined the local club, High Plains Archers. That gives me 24/7 access to a nice indoor range and evening leagues. At 7200’ elevation consistent outdoor practice is pretty unlikely until June.

      The indoor range allows a full 20 yards but I try not to think about that. I move up or back after almost every practice shot to train my eye to instinctively respond to the apparent distance of the shot. I try to put the calculation of distance out of my mind.

      When (if?) Spring comes I will get back stump shooting in my hunting territory. The goal will be to fine tune my eye so I can immediately categorize any target (stump, flower, dirt clod, etc.) into one of four categories: close shot, medium shot, long shot, or NO SHOT (too far). The eye sees the target and the brain says go or no go without ever considering distance in feet or yards.

      The result of each release will be evaluated as dead on (think tennis ball), real close (think volley ball), or BAD SHOT (think wounded deer). My goal is to eliminate BAD SHOTS by developing my ability to reliably and quickly discriminate between doable shots and NO SHOT before I even draw my bow.

      Well that’s a lot of words to say I am trying to get away from using numbers in the process of improving my traditional archery skill. It’s judgment, not measurement. After all, why calculate yardage at all if I am shooting a bare bow?

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