Bow Shot Placement On African Plains Game


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Mar 21, 2009
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South Africa
I was fortunate enough to listen to a lecture presented by Kevin Robertson (Doctari)

After that I bought his shot placement book as well as the DVD.

And with the shots I have taken I applied a few guidelines he talks about in his book and DVD and if I did my job and make sure of the shot the arrow connect with the vitals and the animal is normally down with in 50 yards.

Here is a couple of photos of animals I have drawn in the vital triangle in yellow and the red dot indicate where I would want to place the arrow.

The main goal is to hit the top of the hart and achieve a double lung shot.

What this shot does is cut of both the blood flow by cutting the aorta as well as puncturing the lungs.

It also allow for the biggest target to allow for the shooter to make mistakes and still hit the vitals.

If your shot goes higher you still hit the lungs.

Little lower and you hit the hart.

Little forward and you should hit the front parts of the lungs.

Back and you may still get lungs or liver.

I have only used quartering away or broad side photos as I believe as bow hunters we should not take a quartering towards, face on or walking away shot on animals.

With a rifle thats a different story.

So let have a look at the animals and let me know if you agree or not.

If you do not agree let me know why you do not agree as I might also make mistakes..... lol



When the Impala is broad side I use the horizontal line where the light and dark comes together on the shoulder.









Look for the inverted SGT stripes on the shoulder...


The vitals for cats are not on the same spot as where one would normally aim. You have to go further back than normally.


Blue Wildebeest



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This is a great post Gerhard. It is important for those of us that have hunted North America to see and understand shot placement on African animals. The vitals are much farther forward on African animals than they are on North American animals. When we are learning to hunt here in the States we are told to aim behind the shoulder about one third to one half up into the body. Unfortunately, on some African game this would be a gut shot. One my first safari we did have problems with zebra and blesboc but did not lose any animals. My second safari went smoothly but my third safari was for buffalo and I purchased all of Doctari's stuff including the perfect shot posters with the vitals showing on the back. I spent much time studying and thinking about shot placement. When it actually came down to the shot on my buffalo I knew where I wanted to hit it and the buffalo did not make 50 yards after the hit. While at the Dallas Safari Club convention I was able to stop by Doctari's booth and thank him for his books and other materials. I have an elephant hunt booked for this year and I received my Perfect Shot elephant poster in the mail this week. As hunters we must always do our best to make quick clean kills and the best way to do this is by understanding animal anatomy and practice with our equipment (gun, bow, muzzleloader).
Good subject. I can tell you that even over here in North America I find hunters tend to shoot too far back or two high or both. I spend way too many hours chasing wounded game every year and this is especially true with bear. It does not matter how many times you tell them to aim so that you take out at least one and preferably both shoulders, they fall back into 'shooting a whitetail mode' and just try for an every day lung shot.............hitting too far back and end up hitting the liver or a gut shot.

When you take out the plumbing at the top of the heart it is very rapid. Much faster than a regular heart shot throught the muscle of the is like rapid decompression. That is precisely what I did on my first cape buffalo, a slight quartering away/almost broadside shot, and he was down and out before he had gone 40 yards, blowing blood everywhere as he went.
My blue wildebeest I hunted with the bow last year I shot him on 23 yards broad side in the middle of the vital triangle.

Arrow passed just over the heart taking out the plumbing as well as both lungs.

The blue wildebeest went 30 yards from the shot.
I agree this is a good subject. I'm going on my first plains game safari in September and one of the first things I did was purchase Dr. Robertson's "The Perfect Shot" on advice from friends. It has been very helpful indeed. While I will be using a rifle on this hunt, the basic principles can apply to both methods.

One extra tip I would think you could add would be on the quartering away shots. If you look at the bushbuck you have posted and the shot placement dot, it lines up perfectly with the OFF SHOULDER. In other words, visualise your arrow needing to end up at the off shoulder and aiming accordingly. This will ensure that you will hit the vitals as the arrow passes through the body of the animal.

This would apply to rifle hunting as well.
With quartering away shots and even broad side shots you need to determine where you want the arrow or bullet to exit.

This will ensure that you draw a straight line trough the vitals and get an aiming point on the animal....
This is great info us who live in Canada. If we shot a moose, Elk or bear in the same spots as shown here, it would be nothing but solid shoulder blade. All the shot placement photos are so beneficial! Keep up the good info.
I purchased all of Doctari's stuff including the perfect shot posters with the vitals showing on the back. I have an elephant hunt booked for this year and I received my Perfect Shot elephant poster in the mail this week.

Where can these posters of Kevin Robertson be ordered from?
First of all, truth in lending - I have not taken a bow to Africa. However, I have taken thirty or forty whitetails with a bow and have some experience with a rifle on plains game during two safaris (also a buf and leopard). The placement you indicate is indeed ideal for a rifle. With a 180gr 30-06 or similar round, none of the game you indicate would travel more than fifty yards. The "magic triangle" is just that - with a rifle. I would think long and hard before releasing on a zebra or gemsbok as you have indicated. You are taking on a lot of internal structure on a large and very hard animal. Eventually, I would think you are at great risk for a deflection or insufficient penetration resulting in a single lung or liver strike. That can make at best for a very long day or a very expensive drop of blood. Shots as indicated on the impala and other deer-sized game should be no problem, but I would give one of the big guys every opportunity to offer the shot you illustrate with the wildebeast.
Red Leg, I can tell you that if you are hunting with a bow, it is very important to try for exactly where the kill shots are posted here.
I have notice that your shotplacement on your game animals is so different to ours in oz
Although I have never been to africa I already know the perfect spot to shoot any african game animal... right where your PH tells you to!!! LOL
Years ago I guided a moose hunter that was adimant that a moose needed to be shot in the hump "You have to break them down" he kept saying despite never having seen an actual moose in his life. He also sighted his gun in 4" high at 100yds "for long shots" despite the fact that he was used to sighting in dead on at 100yds. Long story short he ended up shooting a giant B&C moose in the hump which went even higher because at 75 yds his gun was shooting well above the line of sight and in his exitement he forgot he sighted it in high. Shaken up and sore that moose exited the mountain side never to be seen again. Even with his bungling of the sight in and what not if he had just taken my advice about shooting for the center of the vitals he would have been well inside the kill zone and taken home the moose of a lifetime.

Thanks for taking the time to put those photos together.
One of my buddies asked me if there were any shot placement targets for plains game? Do any of you know of any? Thanks!!!


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Holy Necro-thread Batman! :)

Im no expert when it comes to bow hunting in Southern Africa.. but I have taken my bow over on 2 trips and taken a few animals (all blue wildebeest) with a bow..

My experience is.. A LOT rides on the bow and the arrow combination you are shooting.. especially when dealing with the thicker/tougher PG species like wildebeest, zebra, etc)...

My first outing with the bow in South Africa, I was frankly under bowed.. I was shooting 500 +/- gr arrows.. with only "ok" broadheads (G5 Montec) from a moderate speed bow, dialed in at about 62lbs..

Taking the typical rifle "on the shoulder" shot on a wildebeest resulted in deflection of the arrow.. the wildebeest did die and we did recover him.. but that was only after a few miles of tracking.. and about 8 hunting hours lost (found him the next morning).. when the arrow entered right on the shoulder (exactly where I would have placed a rifle shot) on a true broadside opportunity... when the broadhead made contact with bone, it turned sharply toward the rear and just barely clipped 1 lung and took out the liver.. with only maybe 10" of arrow actually penetrating the animal...

Fast forward to this past July... I took a much faster bow.. dialed in at 70lbs.. shooting excellent single bevel, 2 blade broadheads (designed specifically for penetration) on 650 gr arrows..

I had a wildebeest give me almost the exact same shot opportunity at the same distance (about 20 yards)..

Once again I placed the arrow exactly where I would have put a rifle round.. "on the shoulder"..

This time however provided extremely different results.. the arrow went straight through bone (total pass through shot with the arrow landing in the dirt about 5 yards on the opposite side of the wildebeest) nailed the heart and both lungs.. and the wildebeest went less than 80 yards before expiring..
Even with a relatively light draw weight, hitting the right spot will result in a quick kill. This shot was in the correct spot, not a lot of penetration (4 blade Slicktrick), but this Impala didn't go 50 yards.

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You are spot on my man! Great illustrations for vitals being forward compared to NA animals.

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