The term 3D archery generally refers shooting at 3 dimensional life-like targets made from self healing foam in situations which would mimic real life hunting experiences.
Early use of the targets was primarily for bowhunting practice but over time, shooting clubs began setting up courses to challenge hunters which led to more competitive venues leading into what we know today as 3D archery. Most early targets where made to resemble deer but today there are all kinds of animals in various sizes – from skunks to giraffes and everything in-between including dinosaurs and aliens! Whether you want to shoot for practice or plan on competing, 3D is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family while gaining valuable experience shooting your bow. Setting up a 3D venue could be as simple as a single target in your yard or as large as a provincial or national level event.
There is nothing special needed to get started in 3D archery – just a desire to have fun! Bring a bow and field point tipped arrows – everything else including a sight and release are optional. When you attend an event, you may see high tech target rigs with long stabilizers but they are not needed to do well – many archers do extremely well with a recurve or longbow. Remember, as you start shooting 3D events, HAVE FUN! If you just want to practice – Great! If you want to be serious and compete – Great! No need to even keep score if you don’t want to. You will likely be charged a fee for shooting regardless of whether you want to compete just to cover the ongoing maintenance of the targets you will be shooting at. If you have never been to an event like 3D before, be sure to ask about range safety and etiquette.
Organization of 3D Events
There are many formats and rule sets which 3D events are run under so some basic information will be covered here. Depending on the hosting club, the format of tournament, the number of days which must be shot, and how it is organised can vary but all will use some form of the targets shown above and use the scoring areas imprinted on each. Courses can be done indoors or outdoors under a variety of shooting conditions. For simplicity, a typical event will be described to help develop a base understanding of a typical event. Generally, the venue includes 20 to 30 targets which will be arranged at the discretion of the host club. For large tournaments, you may be required to shoot 2 consecutive days to post a combined score for ranking. Targets are placed in varying situations and at varying angles but in all cases, the scoring area is visible to the shooter. You may end up shooting from elevated platforms or hillsides to simulate a downward shot or you may shoot uphill though less common. Surroundings can vary from heavily wooded to open fields. Normally, the distance to the target must be judged by the shooter without any aids however some events now have known distance shoots or days when rangefinders can be used. The top competitive classes shoot unmarked yardage.
Indoor events may be shot from a single line where advanced and beginning archers shoot the same distances – only the shooting class will vary (you are grouped according to equipment type and skill level). You may shoot at targets as close as 2 or 3 yards up to 50 yards depending on where the event will be held. In addition, you may be required to shoot across the lane of the person next to you so be aware of where your target is in relation to the shooters around you
Outdoor events usually are done on a walk-through course with a group of 3 or 4 archers per lane. Think of the walkthrough being like golfing – your group completes one hole then moves on to the next hole. Depending on your skill level and the shooting class you registered under, you will be shooting from a specific stake placed on the ground at each shooting lane. For instance, young shooters may shoot from the closest stake (15 yards max) where open class and pro shooters may shoot from the farthest stakes (50 yards max) – note the stakes below. The stakes are used to ensure each shooter has the same opportunity and the shooter is required to touch the appropriate stake with at least one part of their body (generally a foot or leg). However you could kneel or lie down and shoot if you wish! If you are new to the sport or are with kids who cannot shoot 15 yards and are just out to practice, feel free to ask your group if it would be acceptable to walk up closer until you are comfortable. Though you cannot score the shot, you will not loose any arrows either! Unlike indoor events, the outdoor events are shot in whatever weather event is going on – rain, wind or heat.
Similar to what you would expect in a hunting situation, a “high score” shot would be in the vitals section of the animal you are shooting at.
One arrow is shot at each target with a score being read where the arrow enters the foam target. This can sometimes confuse those new to 3D events when a target is placed on an angle to the shooter. For example, a deer target placed at a quartering away angle would pose the problem posed above.
In a hunting situation, you would likely shoot at the deer so the arrow would enter about mid way between the front and rear legs however in 3D, this would result in a score of 5 or 8. In order to score a 10 or higher in 3D, the arrow would have to be shot as if you wanted to pass through the outer shoulder area.
Since most targets have multiple scoring areas marked on them to extend useful life, be sure to ask which one is being shot. If no specific area is marked, assume the most “natural” kill zone would be used.
Each target has its own set of scoring rings so it may be helpful to pick up a set of reference cards. It is important to note that if the arrow even touches the next higher scoring ring it counts as the higher score. In most situations you will not be able to see the scoring rings from the shooting stakes so having a good set of binoculars or a reference card can be handy.
When in doubt, feel free to ask someone.
General Rules and Etiquette
Each tournament has its own set of rules and equipment restrictions so be sure to know what you are in for when shooting a sanctioned event as a competitive shooter. For instance, Actual stake to target maximum distances also vary depending on the format of the shoot. All the rules for competitive 3D shooting can be found on the IFAA website. There are far too many rules to list but in a general sense, here are some basic things to consider.
The targets are grouped into four categories where each category has a different shooting distance. The standard round comprises of shooting at 28 targets. The distances to targets are not given. Each target is shot from two different markers or stakes. There are two markers for each target and each marker has a different distance to the target. The maximum distances for each target group follow the maximum distances set for the IFAA 3D Hunting Round. The maximum distance for each target group (Number Veterans/Adults Juniors Cubs) are:
1 60 Y 50 Y 30 Y
2 45 Y 45 Y 25 Y
3 35 Y 35 Y 20 Y
4 20 Y 20 Y 10 Y
South Africa also offers 22 Arrow round which conforms to various rules. 2014 will be a test phase for 3D archery during which 22 targets (with a maximum of two archers per stake), rather than 28 will be implemented in an attempt to speed-up the 3D competitions. The 3D course will consist of:
3 Groups 1 paper targets,
3 Groups 1 3D targets,
3 Groups 2 paper targets,
3 Groups 2 3D targets,
3 Groups 3 paper targets,
3 Groups 3 3D targets,
2 Groups 4 paper targets and
2 Groups 4 3D targets
The sport of 3D Archery is a form of Target Archery. It is also known as a very addicting and fun Archery sport. 3D Archery can be participated by anyone at any skill level. 3D Archery can be set in the forest, fields and sometime even indoor ranges. The goal of 3D Archery is having the ability to guess how far away the target is and know where to shoot to achieve the highest possible score. 3D Archery is a lot like golf.
In Golf you generally need to know of far the hole is to choose the right club. In 3D you have to guess the distance and shoot to get the highest score. As in golf if you guess the distance wrong you will probably not score as well. In golf the lowest score wins, in 3D the highest score wins.
Marked 3D vs Unmarked 3D Archery
There are two types of archery events, marked yardage and unmarked yardage. The majority of the shoots are unmarked yardage. This means you stand at your designated stake and try to guess how far the target is. You then take your shot trying to score the highest possible points. In Marked 3D Archery, they will tell you at each stake, how far the target is. Some clubs will even put a small dot on the highest scoring ring. Your object is to hit the highest scoring ring.
Target Scoring in 3D Archery
Each 3D Target will have a set of scoring rings on it. The scoring is normally Club or IFAA dependant. Many Archery Clubs use the following scoring. The smallest circle scores and 11 or 12 points, the next ring is the heart, 10 points, the lung is 8 points, the body is 5 points. The hoof or antlers on deer score a zero.
Types of Archery Targets
Generally, the 3D Archery will shoot at various animal shaped targets. These are close to life sized animals. The types of animals will vary depending on the club. You may see everything from the big five to Antelope, Deer, Sheep, Snakes, Beaver, Skunk, Moose, Elk, Cougar, Bobcat and much more.
Archery Skill Levels Required
3D Archery has many classes for different skill levels and equipment. Even beginners and children can have a lot of fun in this sport. The Archery equipment you use, is the deciding factor on how far away your targets will be. An example for bowhunter class it 35 yards and under.
What about guessing yardage in 3D Archery
Guessing the distance is probably the number one skill in 3D Archery. In unmarked 3D Archery, you must guess how far the target is in order to make a high scoring shot.
In the “Rangefinder” (RF) class. Provincial colours will be awarded in these classes, but no National or Protea colours.
Targets are divided into four groups, where each group has its own shooting distance depending on the archers class (age).