Judging and Breaking Distance

One of the hardest things that a hunter can experience while he is trying to shoot down a deer or a buck in the woods is measuring the distance. Using a bow and arrow is not like using a rifle or a gun wherein the bullets travel so fast that it will not really change direction. Arrows have the tendency to slightly change direction as it moves closer to its target. So even if your judgment is only a little bit off, then you will definitely miss your mark. It is because of this that most bowhunters would use laser rangefinders. However, what if you cannot afford a rangefinder? So how do you get better in judging distance? Well, the answer is through constant practice. Judging distance is not something that you can learn just by reading a book. It is something you acquire while on the field after constant practice.


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Archers would usually have this gut feeling when it comes to judging and breaking distance. This gut feeling, as stated earlier, is acquired through strict and constant training. After a lot of practice, you will develop a certain “instinct” that will allow you to know your range once you see your target.

One of the most effective tips that most archers would share to beginners is to use the size of the target as a benchmark as to how far it is. So in order to practice this, you first have to practice with wooden deer. Make several wooden deer and set them up at different distances. One could be 30 yards from you, another could be 40 yards, another could be 60 yards and so on. Shoot each one of them and try to use their size as an indicator as to how far you are.

Other archers prefer to be very precise with their measurements since they do not want to rely much on their instinct. This is also a good way to go about, but it is more mathematical than just relying on your intuition. One technique that you can do in order to judge distance is to bracket your shots. Through some experiments, you can actually bracket your shots with a range. For example, due to the size of the target, you estimated that the distance is probably between 40 to 50 yards so you would try to hit the target with a 50 yard pin. Of course, it would be great to try out this distance with random methods so that you can calculate many ranges.

What if you have poor eyesight? What if you are nearsighted and could not easily spot your target from afar? Sure you can buy one of those special hunting eyeglasses, but what if they are unavailable in your area or you simply can’t afford to buy one? What do you do? Well, back when eyeglasses were not invented yet, nearsighted and aged archers often relied on their hearing. Yes, you can actually use your hearing to judge the distance of your target. It may be a little bit tricky but it is possible. So how exactly can you hear the distance of your target? Well, you can do this by listening to the sound of the arrow moving towards the target. Instead of looking at the target, you can judge how far it is by judging how long it takes for the arrow to hit it. You can do this by listening to the arrow as it pierced through the air. You have to take note the sound of the arrow being released from the bow, the arrow traveling to the target, and the arrow hitting the target. With constant practice, you will definitely be able to perfect this method. Again, try out this method with targets at different distances.


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Judging and breaking distance is one of the most crucial things in archery. One little mistake in judging the distance can actually cause failure of the whole hunting trip. For this reason, archers have to constantly sharpen their judgment skills. Since your targets will be moving, then you have to practice even harder because animals can cover distance quickly. Practice how to judge different distances, so that you will not be caught off guard.

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