Originally posted on the Pocket Ranger blog.
Close range archery practice is something that isn’t mentioned much these days. Most times bowhunters will say they sighted in their bows between 20-80 yards and are very happy with that. What about when that animal surprises you and comes in at 10 yards or maybe even 5 yards? Have you practiced shooting at those ranges? Here are a few tips to be sure you can hit your target at all ranges.
When I was first starting out bowhunting, I had the fortune to shoot at a nice six-point whitetail with a recurve. I was young and had not practiced at close range. At less than five yards I shot right over his back. I aimed to what I thought was a true shot and whiffed. I was heartbroken and deflated. After that, practicing at close range was a must. I stuck with it for many years and then when I moved to California I stopped for a while.
As I began to shoot at longer distances, I slowly forgot about shooting in close. One day at the range, I set up a 3D deer target and got to thinking. What if this deer surprised me closer than 10 yards? Would I be ready? I knew I wouldn’t be, so I tried a few things.
First, I set up a bag target and moved just a few feet away from it. This was to get my body in tune and to erase any target panic I might have. Here’s what you should do – as you are directly in front of the target, draw your bow, close your eyes and when ready squeeze the trigger on your release. This tells you how it should feel and to make sure you don’t punch the trigger. This might take a couple shots to get the cobwebs out and to relax.
Now that you have the target set, you use either the lowest setting for your single-pin sight (like 5 yards) or the setting for 10 yards on your multi-pin sight. Move back to 5 yards and aim for a spot on the bag target. Release an arrow and see how low (or high) you are. Here is where the adjustment comes in. For every archer this will be different, so you will have to take great care in your next steps. You can lower your bow and get the sight pin where you think you need to be and fire off another arrow. Complete this step until you hit the spot you are aiming for. Don't go adjusting any sight pins! All you are doing is moving the bow down and then shooting. Focus on either your top pin and how far down it needs to be to shoot, or focus on a part of the sight ring. You should choose whatever makes you feel comfortable and shoot well at close range.
Once you have the 5 yard sighting completed try some things. Crouch down, sit down, lean in front of a mock ‘tree’ or just make something up for how you think an animal will approach. Practice like this from 5 yards from time to time. This will ensure that when you are faced with a close yardage shot you can make it happen without blinking an eye. Best of luck and shoot straight!