Discussion in 'Bowhunting Africa' started by Dox, Jul 27, 2009.
I would like to know what distance is best for bow hunting.
I think that answer relates to how you shoot. By that, i mean what is your best range (tightest groups). It could be 20 yards, 30 yards, etc. You need to shoot a lot and figure out how comfortable you are at different ranges and then set your self imposed limits.
I think that 20 yards is the distance that you must be able to do good groupings at. I know bowhunters that can shoot 6 inch groupings at 120 yards, but that's not for the everyday bowhunter. That same bowhunter told me that if you want to hunt at 20 yards you should practice at 40 and when you get the 20 yard shot you will find it a easy shot.
I would say that 30 yards is the limit for ethical bowhunting, don't get me wrong, there are good shots that can shoot from longer ranges but, you as a bowhunter must know your limitations. As Andries said if you want to shoot at 20y practice at 40y and the same for 40y practice at 60y.
Even 20y is a problem for some bowhunters, they wound animals like Impala and Warthog then they blame it on the size of the animal they then go for bigger animals like Blue Wildebees wich have a bigger target area. This is absolute nonsence, it is simply a person that doesn't practice enough and is yust not ready to hunt with a bow yet.
I agree that 30 yards is a good distance to limit your shots to. My groupings seem to open up much more beyond that, with an increased number of flyers. But that is me.
Studies on whitetailed deer show that 17-24 yards is the range they are most likley to hear your bow and have enough time to react. After 24 yards they dont react with the same alertness. Impala seem to be higher strung than whitetails. Wildebeast seem to be high strung too. Everything else shouldnt be a problem.
From my experience 15-20 yards is perfect.
My distance varies depending from a series of reasons, I shoot LB in the 65-70# range (I have an 80# but I use it mainly for muscle conditioning), my sweet spot is at 20 meters. I know that with my set up at a perfect draw and release at 20 meters I'm on the "point of the arrow dead center" spot (every traditionalist should know this distance), this means using peripheral vision aiming, if I have the arrow point on the target spot I'm sure I can hit it (this takes away a lot of guess work).
After thousand of arrows I know that when I'm getting tired I tend to release a little earlier than 28", not by much just a tad, but I loose about 5"-8" in elevation. I try to stay always at about 20 meters (unless I walk into the animal) I aim at the lungs a little higher (if there is a string jump is going to be a miss, no problem) if I flinch it a little I'm at the target area or lower lung-heart area. I'm more worried about lateral movement with the LB at relatively high poundage, an inch of movement of the bow hand at release, really throw the arrow AWOL, but here we are in the practice, practice realm.
If I have to try the long shot I do not go over distances where I can have a visual reference with respect to the animal body, depending on the animal size that puts me in the 40-50 meters (excluding elephant and giraffe size games) and I never do that other than on 3D practices.
Bow hunting is a game of how close .....not how far ...... practice , practice and practice and when you think you are doing well practice some more . I personally do not agree with people shooting beyond 30 yards (I personally don't shoot beyond 20 ) . There are to many variables when you start to reach out there .
The reason many people wound impala and warthog is that they are among the worst string jumpers! The thrill of bowhunting is not how far, but how close. The father away the more reaction time the animal has.
I'd say the ideal distance for bow hunting is 20yds. With the optimal range 15yds to 30yds which casual bow hunters can be proficient in. Now those with much more experience and practice can shoot a lot further. I'd like to get my last pin sight set to 70yards. When my father used to bow hunt he had taken animals over 100 yards.
Ideal is definitely 20 yards, however this is not always possible. The main factor is to practice enough to be good up to 50. Personally I will not take a shot beyond this distance.
The risk goes up at longer ranges, it's amazing how much even a slight breeze can affect a 60-70 yard shot. The animal can start to take a step at the shot, I've had animals completely turn around before the arrow got there, or in many hunting situations the circumstances are not perfect, like side hill, steep up or down, sitting ,kneeling. That said I've taken game at 60-70 yards, it depends on the circumstances, your ability and what you are comfortable with. Also remember in Africa everything has a price on it which I think puts a little subconious pressure on. I don't shoot over 30 yards most of the time in Africa but practice out to 70 for follow up shots.
All the replies are spot on and everyone brings up some valid points...
I would only add that most African outfitters that seriously accommodate bow hunters will do everything within their means to try and get their guests the closest most ethical shot possible. We do our very best to provide set-ups to give our guests the highest percentage shot opportunity possible which ideally will be 20 yards or less. That doesn't mean we don't believe our guests are capable of making shots at greater distances, but if it's not always necessary, why would we? It's not much fun for anyone when precious safari time is spent tracking a wounded animal. It's even less fun to loose an animal completely.
It goes without saying that the maximum ethical shooting distance will vary greatly from hunter to hunter. A lot of factors including little, if any experience with shooting from dark hides through narrow openings at awkward angles, and "plainsgame fever" are just a couple that come to mind.... I've seen many very experienced bow hunters that have shot countless whitetails come completely unglued when an African trophy of a lifetime is standing a few steps in front of the hide. In that instance, a 40 yard shot may as well be 400 yards...
A good bow hunting PH will develop an open dialogue with their hunters and predetermine their level of experience, shooting skill, as well as their comfort zone. The PH should also be present during practice sessions at camp to see firsthand how their hunters are grouping shots at various distances. Outfitters who provide the proper environment, and PHs who familiarize themselves with their guests' abilities and expectations is a combination that will result in happy hunters putting more hides in the salt.
With todays bows and arrows shoots of more the 20 yds are more then ok.Yes 20 yds would be great and happen alot when hunting out of blinds.
For the guys who like to walk and stalk I think out to 50 can be done with practice and a range finder.I have friends who take deer,elk and pronghorn out to 80yds and not by luck but by practicing ever day.
I myself think your are limiting yourself if you only want 20 and under no matter were the hunt is.If you dont practice then a 20yd shot is no good either.
@Dox, there are many variables, the bowhunter has to take into consiseration, himself and his skill level being two. Are you hunting from a hide,are the animals relaxed and as mentioned before the species you are hunting. Impala and Duiker are known to string jump even if they are relaxed. I have been fortunate enough to take 172 animals in one season with a bow, only 8 from a hide. Longest shot was 40meters ( Eland) closest was a tie between a Kudu, Bushbuck and Mountain Reedbuck at 4-5 meters, this was walk and stalk. On avarage the shots were well below 20 meters, the species I had the most problems with and that often needed a second arrow was Impala. Know your bow, know your species and most of all know your limitations. Good luck and happy hunting
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