It’s summertime, which to archers means the world is your oyster. Outdoor archery games abound when the weather is hot and the days are long.
Summer is the main season for 3D archery. Depending on where you live, it’s possible to find multiple 3D shoots within easy driving distance every weekend.
In the game of 3D archery, archers walk through a course — usually in the woods — shooting at lifelike foam animals such as deer, elk, bears, hogs and on and on. Shot distances vary. Sometimes archers know the distance by using a rangefinder, and sometimes they are required to judge the distances without the aid of any electronics.
You can shoot 3D with any archery equipment you’ve got. Bowhunting rigs, traditional bows, crossbows, Olympic recurve and open target setups are all used in 3D archery.
There are two main organizations in the United States involved in 3D competitions — ASA and IBO. Each has its own rules and tournament schedule. But the primary venue for summertime 3D shoots is the local archery club. This is where you’re going to find 3D shoots week in and week out this time of year.
Club shoots might follow ASA or IBO rules or a mix of the two, or they might have their own rules altogether. They might be held for competition, with scores being recorded to determine winners. Or they might just be for fun, with no prizes or medals at stake.
Many local 3D shoots are held to offer practice to bowhunters preparing for the coming fall seasons. Going to a 3D shoot is a great way to hone your bowhunting skills by shooting at 3D animals in a naturalistic setting. Aiming at a bull’s-eye target is much different from trying to find an aiming point behind the shoulder of a lifelike deer target with no visible aiming reference.
If you’re not a member of a local archery club, finding information about club shoots in your area can be difficult. Archery 360 has a database of archery shops and ranges around the country where you can go talk to employees and other archers to find out about shoots in your area.
If you want to put your archery skills to the ultimate test, field archery is the game for you. You shoot lots of arrows — 72 or 144 shots are common in field archery — at targets of varying sizes and varying distances from 6 feet to 80 yards in varying terrain.
The National Field Archery Association is the main organization governing field shoots in the United States. NFAA holds a national field championship every year during the summer. This year, it’s scheduled for July 20-25 in Enola, Pennsylvania. But many local archery clubs have their own field archery ranges, so be sure to check with them for organized events as well.
This is a catch-all category of archery games that involve shooting at a multicolored, bull’s-eye-style target. The standard outdoor target archery game is what’s shot by USA Archery and World Archery. It’s a 72-arrow round shot at 50 meters for compound and barebow archers and 70 meters for Olympic recurve archers. Compound archers shoot at an 80-cm target face, with concentric scoring rings extending from the center 10-point ring out to a 5-point ring. Barebow and Olympic recurve archers shoot at 122-cm faces, featuring concentric scoring rings extending from the center 10-point ring out to a 1-point ring. A perfect score for any of these archers would be 720.
The 50-meter and 70-meter distances are set for adult divisions. Kids competing in target archery shoot at shorter distances that vary from age group to age group.
Two other popular summer games in the target archery realm are the NFAA 600 round and 900 round, which are shot by archers using all varieties of equipment. Both rounds involve shooting arrows at 40, 50 and 60 yards. In the 600 round, archers shoot four ends of five arrows at each distance at 92-cm faces. In the 900 round, archers shoot five ends of six arrows at each distance at 122-cm faces. You can find information about 600- and 900-round tournaments by checking with the NFAA, but these rounds are especially popular among local, regional and state archery organizations. Your best bet is to ask at your local archery pro shop and/or archery club for information on shoots near you.
Summer is the ultimate season for bowfishing, which involves shooting fish with a bow and arrow. Both recurve and compound bows are used for bowfishing.
A key difference in bowfishing gear from your target archery and/or bowhunting rig is that your bowfishing arrow has to be connected to a line so you can retrieve it and your catch after the shot. There are special reels that can be attached to bows just for bowfishing, but you can also attach a line to your arrow and simply have the line coiled at your feet.
You can use standard arrows for bowfishing, but they’re not the best choice, since they can easily get damaged if they hit the bottom of the body of water you’re fishing. Special arrows made just for bowfishing are much sturdier. Many are made of fiberglass, which can take a beating and still be usable.
Be sure to check with your local game and fish department to determine what species of fish you can shoot with a bow and arrow, and when and where you are allowed to bowfish. Common freshwater species are carp, catfish and gar. Popular saltwater species include rays and sharks.
Summer is prime time for playing with a bow and arrow. Look around and you should be able to find a place to shoot and a game to play.