Maximum Effective Range for Beginner

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Archery season is coming quick and to be honest with y'all, I am getting butterflies already. I need some sage advice on the maximum range I should be looking to shoot for my first archery hunt. I know the easy answer is "whatever I'm comfortable with" but if I am so fortunate to get my sights on an animal my first year out I am going to have a very severe case of buck fever and I can't be certain I will be "comfortable" at any range.

My bow is sighted in for 10, 20, 15 and 30 yds (it is a single pin sight) as I always figured that was safe and when I'm shooting at my target in the safe confines of my backyard, the groups are tight and consistent enough to be deadly. I want to be reasonable and ethical but I don't want to sell myself short either.

I have read a few posts where some are shooting out to 50-80+ yds. I have heard that range doesn't matter so much; if your form is good enough to shoot well at 10, then the rest just fall into place. I understand the logic of that in theory but not so much in practice.

Should I be practicing at longer ranges, say 50 yds. to expect to be able to do well at 30-40 yds?

Love to hear some thoughts on this from folks with more experience.

Thanks in advance!
 

packmule

Veteran member
Jun 21, 2011
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TX
I wouldn't buy into good 10yd form being good enough to go long. You pretty much have to shoot the distances and be confident to the point that missing a 12 ring size spot on an animal is out of the question. The further you practice, the more the closer shots seem like chip shots, so if you have the ability to shoot 50-100yds then do it.
 

Cobbhunts

Veteran member
Jan 22, 2014
1,060
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Kentucky
I definitely think you should practice at 50 yards. Even beyond that if you want to. Practicing at 60 yards will really tighten your groups up at 30 and 40 in my experience. Good luck buddy!!
 

Fink

Veteran member
Apr 7, 2011
1,961
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West Side, MoMo
If you're only practicing out to 30, I wouldn't recommend shooting at game beyond that distance. Past 30 yards, things can go haywire pretty quick if you're not experienced at shooting at those distances.
I regularly practice out to 60 or 70 yards, and there is no way I'll shoot an animal at more than about 40 yards.
Like Packmule said, shooting at 70 makes 40 yard shots pretty easy.
 

Hilltop

Veteran member
Feb 25, 2014
3,601
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Eastern Nebraska
An archers maximum range is a personal thing that you have to own just as you have to own a wounded animal or a lost arrow. I believe with years of experience, and the right equipment, maximum ranges can be extended out well past 60 yards. I have taken animals out to 65 yards but the majority of my archery kills were inside of 30 yards. My current personal limit is at 50 yards due to limited practice time.

I practice out to 100 yards- I have a farmer that allows me to use his large round hay bales as a back stop for the times I miss my bag. Tiny mistakes are exponentially exaggerated at this type of range so it forces you to get better. A tiny tweak of the bow isn't noticeable at 20 yards but the same tweak at 100 yards will result in your arrow being off by feet. For example a 2" mistake at 20 yards will be a 32" or larger mistake at 100 yards.

Practice as far as you can- under different conditions. As season approaches, I believe hunters should shoot one arrow several times a day. That one arrow needs to be taken seriously...like it is your one shot you get that year. Take these solo shots from different ranges and under different conditions. Jog for 30 seconds, then take your shot. Its a good simulation to the adrenalin rush when taking an animal. You can also add pressure with some friendly bets and or a video camera. Adding pressure to your practice sessions will greatly increase you confidence once you get that shot in the field.

Animal reactions really need to be considered as well at longer ranges. The farther your distance, the greater chance that the animal will have a chance to move before the arrow reaches it.

Sorry for rambling- hope this helps. The first time bow hunters I am helping this year will likely be restricted to 30 yards. Next year, maybe 40... maybe.
 

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
All those responses help a great deal and I really liked Hilltop's suggestions on how to make things a little more realistic from the adrenaline aspect. Especially the idea of just one arrow a few times a day; I think I get too caught up in shooting groups (which is important) but I think all can attest that fatigue starts to do a number on groups and in real life, it is that one arrow, that one shot that is really going to matter.

I am going to get out this weekend and try some 40 to 50 yarders just to see and feel it. Sounds like the overall consensus is practice 10-20 yds further than what your limit will be in the field.

Since I have begun archery, it amazes me the similarities with golf; it is really a mental game as much as physical. I am so inspired to pratice right now...mind exploding...must shoot.

Thanks again guys. You're awesome.
 

Colorado T

Active Member
Aug 28, 2011
445
95
Littleton, CO
I'll echo what Hilltop said. Shoot in differing conditions, kneel down to get under branch, stand on uneven ground. I try to keep all my shots at 60 or under. This is my sons first year hunting with a bow and I want to keep his max at 40 yds while hunting. Everybody is different and it boils down to what you are comfortable with. Can you live with yourself for wounding an animal you knew you shouldn't have shot at?
 

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Thanks for boiling that down CO T. Will I be able to LIVE with myself? Yes. Would I ever be able to have the confidence to shoot a bow again? Probably not, especially if I knew I shouldn't have taken the shot to begin with.

I am going into this with the attitude that if I even see something and can begin a stalk or an ambush, it will have been a wildly successful first archery hunt. On the other hand, I need to be mentally and physically ready for the fact that I might just totally luck out-I have a good range finder and a good camera.

If, for whatever reason, I cant shoot 'em with my bow, I'll take some good pictures for you guys!
 

ivorytip

Veteran member
Mar 24, 2012
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dont have a pin set at 10. lowest at 20, 10 and 20 u wont notice much a diff anyway. 20 30 and 40 should be perfect setup. play with your 40 for your longer shots. like was said, good luck man
 

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Yeah, I think I goofed on my original post: it is set up as 10, 20, 25, then 30 (not 15) but you're right, since I switched to lighter arrows, 10 and 20 are really interchangeable for practical purposes. Working on 30 through the weekend and I will mess around with 40 heading into the season but with the understanding that my maximum range will really be 30 (no exceptions!)

I see what other guys are saying about practicing at longer ranges and actually shooting at 10 or so yards less in hunting situations because of that mental/confidence factor. 20 yds used to seem like a long shot until I started consistently shooting at 30.

Thanks ivory-I appreciate the feedback. going to need all the luck i can get!
 

Cobbhunts

Veteran member
Jan 22, 2014
1,060
1
Kentucky
You're getting some absolute stellar advice here. The most important thing I've noticed is that you're practicing. That's something that tends to get overlooked. Keep after it and keep extending your "practicing" range. Try different positions and angles as stater above. That is huge. I can't tell you how many turkeys I've missed because I didn't understand that I needed to practice while sitting down. Best if luck to ya, and I bet you'll be drilling the 10 ring at 40 and 50 yards in no time.
 

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Thanks Cobb! In fact, I took some advice from another member and I just shot one arrow five times over the period of the afternoon and was able to get within the 2" circle at 30 yds. However, I also meshed in some shots from a kneeling position as was hitting several inches right.

I agree, I am getting stellar advice here and that idea of shooting from different angles and positions is something I've been overlooking but need to be doing!

I owe everyone on this thread another round of thanks!
 

AzCamoLife

New Member
100% you should be practicing long range. I practice out to 70 yards right now. Pins are set up 20, 40, 50, 60, 70. The more you practice long range the more confident you will be at shorter distances. Plus, you will gain the confidence and ability to take those 40-60 yard shots. That is pretty much the norm out here in AZ. A good amount of guys I know practice out to 150 yards out here. Does that mean they are gonna try to kill something at that distance? No. It means that 60 yards is gonna be a cake walk. Hope this helps ya out.
 

Don K

Very Active Member
Sep 10, 2011
666
22
Northern Illinois
Don't forget to shoot wearing what you are going to hunt in. Are you wearing gloves when hunting? Practice with them on. You going to have a day pack on? Practice with it.
 

Timberstalker

Veteran member
Feb 1, 2012
2,242
3
Bend, Or
On top of shooting, know where to shoot the animal at different angles. I believe that to be equally as if not more important than shooting. Being an inch or two off can make the difference between recovery and a very bad day, I learned that one the hard way. Arrows are not bullets, there is no room fore error with an arrow.

Also realize what you do after the shot is more important than what you did before. The hunt is not over till the animal is in your hands.
 
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micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Even more good points. I have been practicing kneeling over the weekend and yeah, need to get m at tore confortable at that. I know all bad stories start with..."I have a buddy that shot/did...." but I really do have a buddy that had a bad shot on his first archery buck and he is adamant that you don't shoot an animal quartered toward you unless you are supremely confident that you can put your arrow right between the shoulders. He is pretty sure that the arrow stuck a shoulder bone and simply fell out; he recoverd a bloody broadhead but nothing else. Trust me on this, he felt awful and is doing whatever he can to guide me to not make the same mistake.

Bottom line, that is a really point Timber. Arrows will not smash through bone into hearts and lungs, especially shoulder bones.

There is an abandoned rock quarry near my house I found that I am going to try to haul my target into and do some real scenario shooting; taking DonK's advice and even getting all gussied up. If anyone gets fussy, I'm going to bet the average Pinal county sheriff would appraise the situation and probably understand and worse case, tell me to my crazy butt back home and quit scaring people.

Come later this year, I would way rather be sharing pictures/stories of a healthy buck that got away vs. a story about how I ruined my first archery hunt by getting greedy or making a freshman error-especially since I would know better because I was given all this good advice ahead of time.

Again, I really do appreciate all the advice and support on this one! These are all things I need to be considering and probably would have overlooked otherwise.
 

micropterus79

Active Member
Jun 19, 2014
220
0
San Tan Valley, AZ
Got out to 40 yds today. Had my camera with me to share some pics of groups but still have some work to do before I post those. Amazing how much difference 10 yds. makes, plus there was a breeze. About 12 arrows into the practice, I started to get more consistent (getting them within 4 inches of eachother) but yeah, I can what y'all mean about 40 and 50 making 20 and 30 seem like chip shots.

Thing is, I love shooting my bow so I have no problem getting motivated to practice, its getting everything else done that I'm struggling with!!
 

Hilltop

Veteran member
Feb 25, 2014
3,601
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Eastern Nebraska
Got out to 40 yds today. Had my camera with me to share some pics of groups but still have some work to do before I post those. Amazing how much difference 10 yds. makes, plus there was a breeze. About 12 arrows into the practice, I started to get more consistent (getting them within 4 inches of eachother) but yeah, I can what y'all mean about 40 and 50 making 20 and 30 seem like chip shots.

Thing is, I love shooting my bow so I have no problem getting motivated to practice, its getting everything else done that I'm struggling with!!
Keep at it...sounds like you will really enjoy this the more you get into it. I am absolutely addicted to watching an arrow fly. I'm kind of a Ted Nugent crazy when it comes to that.

One other little piece of advice- don't stop practicing once season arrives. I keep a field point arrow with me while hunting for this purpose. If I'm in a tree stand, I always take a shot at a leaf either at the start or end of my sit depending on the time of day. If I'm out west, I find a dirt bank or other safe stop to take a practice shot into. I also usually have a bag target in camp to use at lunch. Small game or predator hunting also offers some great practice during the hunts. Many rabbits, squirrels, and blue grouse have ended up on my camp fire because I had the a field point or judo point arrow ready. Lastly, you can't believe everything you see on TV but I do believe you can learn a lot by watching various hunting shows. One I really like right now is Western Hunter... pretty realistic IMO.

Good luck and don't forget your camera! We want to see the fruits of our advice...