When you can’t be in the woods chasing live targets in the spring and summer months, a quality 3D archery experience can be the next best thing to help you endure the long days of the off season. And one of the best 3D archery shoots of the year is the Total Archery Challenge (TAC). The event is held at venues across the country, so there’s likely one within driving distance to you. If you’ve never attended a TAC event, you definitely need to add it to the calendar.
What can you expect from these events?
Bowhunting.com team member, Ryan Cornelius, recently attended the Total Archery Challenge held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. Below he gives an inside look at what you’ll find at a TAC event.
TAC is a 3D skills course, typically held at ski resorts, for bowhunters at all levels of expertise. They have several courses with hundreds of targets, and they even have a course for kids. In my opinion, it’s like a theme park for bowhunters.
Each year, I shoot the TAC event with long-time friends. As most of you know first-hand, balancing time with family, friends, work, and hunting can be difficult. Throw in the fact that most of my friends live on the other side of the state, 4 hours away, and it becomes even more challenging. If not for our annual TAC trip, I might not see them outside of hunting season at all.
This year, between training a new puppy, coaching little league, and family responsibilities, I did
not prepare nearly as much as I had hoped. I shot my bow off and on throughout March and
April, but started shooting every day about three weeks out from the event. I started at 20 yards
and worked my way back. TAC is known for its long shots, so I was hoping to practice a few
times at yardages out to 100 yards. However, the furthest I practiced was at 55 yards. It was the furthest I could stretch a shot in my yard.
I only had 10 arrows, so I built another half dozen the week before the shoot. I wanted to make
sure that I had plenty, in case I got to missing targets and breaking arrows. I have a hip quiver
which I carried 4 arrows in. The remainder I carried in a tube in my backpack. In my pack, I also
carried a bladder with water, some snacks, some tools, and extra gear like D-loop material,
serving, lighter, and a set of Allen wrenches. I also carried a bino harness with a pair of 10×42
binoculars and a rangefinder.
The morning of the shoot, I woke up and was out the door by 4:30 AM to make it to Seven
Springs, PA by 7:30 AM. That would leave us an hour before our nock time to go to the
registration tent, check out some vendors, and shoot a few arrows on their practice course. At
8:30 AM, we caught the ski lift and took a ride to the top of the mountain. When we got off the lift, we followed signs for the Leupold course.
The Leupold course consists of 25 targets ranging from 20-60 yards. The shot distances vary
as does the difficulty. A shot might only be 35 yards, but a tree may be blocking 80% of the ten
ring, or the terrain may be such that the vitals are not visible over the crest of the hill. With the
arc of the arrow trajectory, it is possible to make the shot. They give you a scorecard at
registration, but it’s up to you if you choose to keep score. We don’t bother keeping score.
When we finished up the Leupold course, we took the ski lift back down the mountain, and we
grabbed lunch at the resort. After lunch, we made our way back to the ski lift to squeeze in a
second course. We chose to shoot the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) course, which
consisted of 15 elk targets at distances ranging from 40-100 yards (some further). Unlike the
Leupold course, this one you start at the top of the mountain and shoot your way down.
Most of the shots were over 60 yards, with the furthest being an elk that we ranged to be over 120 yards. That one was challenging, and we ended up having to guess how high to aim above its back. I dialed my pin to 90 yards (the point where my fletching just cleared my sight housing) and held my pin at the top of its rack, which wasn’t near high enough, as it resulted in a hoof shot. Better than a miss, right?
What to Know Before You Go
Looking back, there are a couple things I would try to do differently. First thing I would do is
practice more. Even though I shot relatively well (only missed one target), there is always room
for improvement. Second thing I would have done is to try and be able to shoot multiple days.
They offered seven courses – Prime, Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC), Leupold, Sitka, Nock On, Hoyt, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) Courses – and I would love to shoot them all. If you had two days you could probably shoot four or five courses. This would also allow more time to catch up with friends and talk more with the vendors.
As for gear, here’s a look at 5 must-have items to have when attending a TAC event:
- Plenty of arrows
- Quality Footwear
- Water/Sports Drink
- Allen Tool/Repair Kit
If you ever have the chance to shoot a Totally Archery Challenge event, I highly recommend it. It is something that my buddies and I look forward to every year. It is hands down one of the coolest archery shoots out there! Head on over to www.totalarcherychallenge.com to check out their upcoming events and to get on their mailing list so you won’t miss the registration dates for next year.