Learning to shoot uphill and downhill is a must if you ever plan on hunting steep or hilly terrain. The fact is most bowhunters who are not experienced in shooting up and down invariably shoot high. Deer and other game live in a wide variety of terrain, and if you are hunting out west you will be hunting them in steep canyons and mountains. Learning how to shoot effectively in these conditions is imperative.

The illustration shows the problem you encounter when shooting uphill and downhill. In this situation, the ram is actually 30 yards in a straight line from the bowhunter, so in his mind he sees the ram at that distance. But the actual lateral distance is only about 21 yards. Gravity pulls on the arrow the same whether going up or down, at least as far as we are concerned in close range bowhunting situations, so the actual shooting distance would be closer to 20 yards, not 30 yards. The result of shooting for 30 yards would be to shoot high, either missing the ram completely or wounding it. Since the vast majority of traditional archers use instinctive shooting, the only way to learn how to shoot uphill and downhill shots is to practice them.

If you don’t have hills where you can place targets high or low, try using an elevated platform or treestand to practice. Using a couple of 3-D targets will be more realistic. Just remember to always shoot for the vitals. The more experience you have at shooting from these angles the better your chances of making a killing shot on game in the same situation.

This tip is an excerpt from T.J.’s book The Traditional Bowhunter’s Handbook.