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What is your...

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What is your...

Postby e_smith06 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 9:40 am

effective range with a bow? 40yds? 50? 80?
Are you comfortable shooting at these distances?
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Re: What is your...

Postby FireCloud » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:20 pm

As with guns, bows are capable of sufficient penetration to kill for a much longer range than you might think. The problem is with flight trajectory of the arrow. If an arrow is fired straight out from shoulder height (say 5 foot) gravity will pull it into the ground in a fairly short distance.

So to shoot any bow at targets at a longer distance, the bow must be aimed so that the arrow arcs upwards and then falls back down to hit the target at the point of aim. For those like me who shoot a recurve instinctively, it is just way too odd of a feeling to point the bow way above a target to get the arc needed for the arrow to hit a distant target, say 80 yards away. For me, I limit my shots to 35 yards or less, where I can aim in a reasonable manner without pointing my bow toward the sky.

Even my slow 180 fps 50 pound recurve however has enough foot pounds of energy downrange to penetrate the arrow and kill a deer at 80 yards. The question is can I instinctively aim and hit the target at that point and the answer is no, I cannot.

Modern compounds and crossbows use fixed sights where the correct point of aim has previously been worked out for a given distance. These bows shoot much faster and have much more kinetic energy in the arrow at a distance and will easily penetrate and kill a deer. So, in my opinion, it is a minimal challenge, if any at all, to hit and kill a deer at a longer distance WHEN you have a sight pin set for that distance. As long as you are stable enough to hold the pin steady and smart enough to get the distance right, you should hit the point of aim every single time regardless of the distance. In essence, the bow will do precisely what it is set up to do if you, as the shooter, have the ability to make the shot without shaking or without making faulty distance calculations.

Thus your question is not one regarding anything about the technical capability of the archery equipment but is instead a question about whether or not a shooter is able to simply aim his bow properly. Shooting my recurve, I cannot aim my bow properly (due to the arc factor needed) at distances over 35 yards. But shooting a crossbow, I can hit the bullseye every single time for the distance I have the scope crosshairs set. Thus, if I had the scope set for a bullseye at 80 yards, I would take that shot on a deer or other target at 80 yards all day long because the bow will deliver the arrow to the point of aim.

A few years ago on another forum one of the Pro Staff shooters for a major archery company who holds a number of tournament records stepped outside one day and noted a deer standing out in a field behind his house but at a long distance. This archer, who lives in Water Valley, picked up his bow which had a 100 yard pin set on it. He has years of experience shooting his bow at 100 yards and is very capable of holding the point of aim steady. Consequently he took the shot after ranging the deer at 103 yards. He hit the deer very close to the actual point of aim and killed the deer.

At the time, on that forum, he took a lot of flack from fellow hunters who lambasted the idea of taking a shot with a bow at 103 yards. The archer (and I) both noted that the bow has plenty of killing power and it was NOT a "low probability" shot at all when the pin was set for 100 yards and the archer has plenty of skill at hitting targets at that range.

After listening to so much grief from the hunting community, the archer finally challenged his critics to prop their bow up against a 100 yard target and let him take a couple shots at it. No one was willing to bet their bow against him that he could not reliably hit their bow at that distance. And if you can reliably hit the target, then ANY shot at any distance is acceptable up to the limit of the bow's killing range.

Just as with shooting deer with a gun at very long distances, you need to set your sights for the distance and shoot enough targets until you can reliably hit the point of aim at that distance. Once you can, then there is no reason not to take the shot if the opportunity occurs.

In short, by using the crutch of shooting a bow with fixed sights, it is readily possible to hit targets at 40, 50, 60, or much further yardage with accuracy. The only TRUE test of an archer's skill, I would contend, is to shoot the same bow with NO sights (instinctively.) That separates the genuine archer who actually controls the bow from the pretend archers who merely points a preset sight at a ranged target and releases the arrow.

We have come to the point in hunting where the technological advances in the equipment, such as the bow, the bow sights, the release aids, range finders, etc., have reduced much of the skill needed to shoot with a bow down to only the skill needed to operate the gadgets. Although I am not against using any of these things, if that is what you want to do, I still shoot a traditional recurve bow instinctively with nothing but a stick and string. And I still shoot my 30.06 rifle with open iron sights too!
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Re: What is your...

Postby e_smith06 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:45 pm

I guess I'm a pretend archer- but there's still much more stealth and skill needed to be successful vs a firearm. Pretend or genuine; I still have a deep love of bow hunting!
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Re: What is your...

Postby tony270 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:27 pm

While everything firecloud said is true, there is one big difference in shooting targets on a range and live deer. Targets never "jump the string". And if you make a bad shot on a target, oh well try again.
My effective range varies depending on conditions, open field, woods, alerted deer. In 28 years of bow hunting I have only taken one 40 yard shot. I very much prefer less than 30.
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Re: What is your...

Postby brewer03 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:25 pm

I will shoot up to 35 yards with my bow at a live deer I practice up to 50
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Re: What is your...

Postby chadbragg » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:21 pm

I have killed multiple deer at 65yds, but in those days I shot 60-80 arrows a day. Now a days I try to limit myself to 40-50yds with my crossbow. My last couple years I bow hunted I limited my shots to 35yds since I couldn't practice much.
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Re: What is your...

Postby stickers » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:31 pm

60yds. If conditions are perfect and I do mean perfect. However, I have had more deer "jump the string" at 20yds than 60yds.
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Re: What is your...

Postby FireCloud » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:44 pm

tony270 wrote:While everything firecloud said is true, there is one big difference in shooting targets on a range and live deer. Targets never "jump the string". And if you make a bad shot on a target, oh well try again.
My effective range varies depending on conditions, open field, woods, alerted deer. In 28 years of bow hunting I have only taken one 40 yard shot. I very much prefer less than 30.


Tony, you make a great point. I am working on an article that deals with the subject of a deer's ability to react to an arrow. In the article I "do the math" to show how fast the deer can react and what can happen. The article is not finished but here is an excerpt from it.

Assume you have a deer standing broadside at 30 yards and you release an arrow from your bow at 300 feet per second toward the deer. The fastest human sprinters running in foot races have been reliably clocked as having reaction times to the starting gun noise in the range of 0.10 (one-tenth of a second) to 0.15 seconds. If humans can hear the starter gun and begin moving that quickly I think it is safe to say the average whitetail can do at least as well when it hears the sound of a bow string. Many would say the deer can likely beat human reaction times by a factor of twice as quick. But for my math, I will assume the whitetail is no better at reaction time than the fastest known humans. Here is what the math looks like:

Deer At 30 Yards/ Arrow at 300 FSP:

Arrow time in flight: 90/300 = 0.30 seconds
Speed of sound: 90/1125 = 0.08 seconds
Available reaction time interval: 0.30 – 0.08 = 0.22 seconds

When the bow string makes noise due to the release of the arrow, a time interval of 0.08 seconds is needed for the sound to reach the deer's ear. But the arrow will not arrive at the deer's location for another 0.22 seconds. That is the amount of time the deer has to react and jump the string (or duck, dodge, whirl, etc.)

But as stated, the deer does not need 0.22 seconds to react but only needs 0.10 seconds (matching the reaction time of the fastest humans.)

So, here is the rest of the math:

Assumed deer reaction time: 0.10 second
Time interval after deer reacts: 0.22 – 0.10 = 0.12

What this math tells us is that it will take 0.08 seconds for the deer to first hear the string noise and another 0.10 seconds for the deer's brain to react and send neurological messages to its body to take evasive action. But there will still be 0.12 seconds of time left before the arrow arrives.

Typically a deer "drops" straight down to allow its legs to enter a position where it can recoil with force and "push off" the ground to jump or leap forward (or in some other direction.) The deer has no muscles to propel itself downward but depends completely on gravity to pull it's body into a crouched position when it relaxes the leg muscles that cause it to be standing. Gravity however is a very powerful (and fast) force. Physics tells us gravity pulls downward at the rate of 32.2 feet per second.

Stay with me here. This is where it get's interesting. Remember there is still 0.12 seconds left before the arrow arrives. For the deer to drop using gravity for a distance of, say 8 inches, so it can crouch on its haunches for a jump, the time interval for the 8 inch drop and crouch only requires 0.02 seconds. As you may be beginning to see, things happen very, very fast during this entire process.

By the time the deer is fully dropped 8 inches and crouched ready to spring forward, the arrow still has another 0.10 second before it arrives. That is plenty of time for the deer to push off and take some sort of evasive action. In short, the deer is fast...very, very fast....and can EASILY jump the string even at a distance of only 30 yards.

Obviously not every deer will react. If a deer is not alert, has its head down to the ground, or is looking away from the noise, it may not have sufficient time to to react before the arrow arrives. And, some deer's brains don't necessarily associate the sound of a bow string as being a noise that they should fear. Consequently, they may just stand there until the arrow arrives without reacting at all. It's hard to predict what a given deer will do but the point of this analysis is that there is an abundant amount of time for a deer to react if it chooses to do so, even at close bow ranges and with a higher speed bow firing the arrow.

Keep in mind that the faster the bow shoots, the shorter the reaction time. Although I did not present it here, I have worked out a 400 fps situation and, while there is less time available, the deer can still dodge the arrow at 30 yards.

Thus, if you take shots over 30 yards with ANY bow you are likely to shoot, including a crossbow, you are essentially betting the deer will not react to the sound of the string. Sometimes you will be lucky and win that bet; sometimes you won't and the deer will move sufficiently so that you either miss entirely or hit the deer in an unintended location, possibly injuring the deer.

Keep in mind this analysis ONLY looks at the sound, which travels very slowly. The deer may also SEE the arrow and as we all know the visual information travels astoundingly fast at the speed of light. If the deer sees the arrow coming, instead of just hearing the bow noise, it has even more time to react and dodge the arrow.

So, should you take a shot at a deer at a distance? Only you can decide that. It helps if the deer is not alert and not directly looking at the shooter. One of the reasons deer may be more calm at longer distances, and thus less likely to react, is that the deer feel much safer at a greater distance. Thus, a deer may indeed react less often at, say 60 yards, than it will at 30 yards. Thus, there really is no set rule as to when you should or should not risk taking a shot at a deer. Every shot is a risk. None are absolutely certain. Only you can evaluate the shooting conditions and make a decision that you are comfortable with.

The only conclusion that can be said with any degree of mathematical certainty is that a deer has plenty of time to react at 30 yards and jump the string if it wants to. Thus, a 30 yard shot is no safer than a 60 yard shot if the deer chooses to react.

Hunters can argue all they want about what a deer "might" do to but the laws of physics that govern time, motion, gravity, arrow flight, speed of sound and light, etc. are immutable. Based on those laws, it can be proven what a deer has the ability to do. Whether or not it chooses to use that ability is up to the deer, not the hunter.
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Re: What is your...

Postby BDHunts » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:39 pm

I practice regularly out to 50 yds and shoot alot at 60 and 70. I have shot out to 80. My sight is adjustable from 60-100. I have the PSE DNA and CBE Tech Hunter Pro sight.

Headed to KS in November for my 4th year, out there the shots can run a little farther due to the open terrain. I can and will shoot out to 50 yds confidently.
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Re: What is your...

Postby bigsteve » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:51 pm

i do not take shots over 25 yards i have found at that range kill shots are a lot easier to make and lost deer are almost never a concern i hate to lose an animal and i have found 30 and 40 yard shots are iffy i can only shoot 52 lbs 2yds either way can produce bad results so i have made 25 yds my maximum i still kill deer usually if you will wait the opertunity will present it.s self the more deer you take the easier it gets to wait i have taken around 65 deer with a bow to date 90% of them were less than 20 yards.
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Re: What is your...

Postby FireCloud » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:58 pm

bigsteve wrote:...i have taken around 65 deer with a bow to date 90% of them were less than 20 yards.


My hat's off to you BigSteve. Taking 65 deer with a bow is a great accomplishment! Congratulations.
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Re: What is your...

Postby LazyGhost » Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:44 pm

bigsteve wrote:i do not take shots over 25 yards i have found at that range kill shots are a lot easier to make and lost deer are almost never a concern i hate to lose an animal and i have found 30 and 40 yard shots are iffy i can only shoot 52 lbs 2yds either way can produce bad results so i have made 25 yds my maximum i still kill deer usually if you will wait the opertunity will present it.s self the more deer you take the easier it gets to wait i have taken around 65 deer with a bow to date 90% of them were less than 20 yards.


I agree. The layout of my hunting spots puts the deer close. Which essentially guarantees a kill zone shot and a dead deer. :ylsuper:
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