Prepare for Fun at 3-D Shoots
3-D archery combines hiking and archery into one outdoor excursion. You’ll shoot at life-size animal targets in natural terrain, with the targets set on a course designed much like a woodlands golf course.
Although 3-D shoots are usually held outdoors, indoor 3-D shoots are popular in winter and provide year-round shooting. With so many ways to get involved, you’ll usually find 3-D shoots nearby. Let’s discuss how to find them and what to expect when you arrive.
How to Find a 3-D Shoot
Your two primary resources for finding 3-D shoots are an archery shop or internet search. Archery stores usually have lots of information on local events, and can help you find a shoot and prepare for it. The internet is also a great resource for finding shoots, with several websites dedicated to listing them.
Once you’ve found a nearby event, start preparing your gear and honing your skills.
What to Bring
Because 3-D archery mixes hiking and shooting, you’ll wear hiking clothes and footwear, and pack enough supplies for a full day at the range.
Match your clothes to the weather and choose sturdy hiking boots, especially if you’re shooting in a hilly area. In summer, you should expect ticks, sunshine and mosquitoes, so bring bug spray and suntan lotion. In fact, consider treating your clothes with permethrin, a potent chemical that kills ticks that touch your clothes. (When applied as specified by the product’s directions, permethrin treatments can withstand several washings.)
Most 3-D shoots aren’t free, so find out the cost and be prepared to pay cash. Many 3-D shoots don’t accept credit cards. Also pack food and water, but some shoots provide concession stands should you show up unprepared.
Of course, you’ll need your bow and shooting accessories. Double-check your bow case before leaving home. It’s no fun to reach a 3-D shoot and realize you forgot your release-aid. Binoculars are a great aid, and make it easier to see the target’s scoring rings. Arrow lube and an arrow-puller are also great aids that you’ll use often.
Know the Rules
Contact the tournament’s organizer, study its website or ask your archery pro which 3-D rules govern local shoots. Then visit the governing body’s website to read their rules. Meanwhile, these general 3-D rules will get you started:
- Only one person shoots at a time, and each archer shoots one arrow per target.
- Colored markers or stakes at each target designate shooting positions for each class.
- Most 3-D shoots require archers to judge the target’s distance, but known-distance 3-D events are gaining in popularity.
- Make sure your arrows carry field points. Broadheads are not allowed on 3-D courses.
Some 3-D events are competitive and closely follow the rules. Others are “fun shoots” with relaxed rules. For your first shoot, an informal event can be a great way to learn the sport, but you can also have lots of fun at a competitive shoot. Either way, safety is a priority and all basic safety rules apply.
When You Arrive
Your first stop upon arrival is the registration table. If the 3-D shoot is at a club, you’ll register at the clubhouse.
You’ll sign a waiver at the registration desk, pay the entry fee and pick up your scorecards. At competitive shoots you’ll be assigned to a shooting group of three randomly assigned archers.
At fun shoots, you can shoot the course by yourself, but you’ll get more out of the experience by shooting with a group. Ask the shoot’s coordinator if you can join some experienced shooters to benefit from their experience and expertise.
Hit the Practice Range
You registered, found your group, and want to hit the course. But before starting, it’s customary to spend a little time at the practice range warming up and verifying your sight is on.
Who Shoots First?
Competitive events follow a set shooting rotation. Archers who shoot last usually have an advantage because they can use previously shot arrows as reference points. Shooting rotations create a level playing field because everyone takes turns going first.
A typical way to choose the starting shooting order is to fan out the scorecards face down. A group member selects the cards at random. The order they’re chosen is the shooting order for the first target. After the first target, the shooting order rotates.
3-D targets have scoring rings that correspond to the target’s vital area. The target’s scoring areas vary in size depending on the animal’s size, and scoring follows IBO or ASA standards. In IBO scoring, the smallest circle is worth 11 points and the next largest is 10 points. The biggest ring is worth 8 points, and hits anywhere else on the body count 5 points. A miss scores 0 points. ASA scoring is the same except the smallest ring is worth 12 points.
One member of your group will call out the scores, and another member will record them on the card. The other group members will take turns pulling arrows from the target.
Shooting the Course
You’ll move from target to target with your group. Most 3-D courses have 20 to 40 targets divided into two halves on the grounds. After completing half the course, you’ll be back at the clubhouse where you can take a quick break before starting the second half of the course.
It’s easy to get started in 3-D archery, and it’s more fun than what’s described in any article. To give it a try, visit an archery shop in your area and talk to one of its pros. They’ll help you find a shoot and provide excellent advice to get started.