3D Shooting-The Perfect Pre-Season Warm up

By Steve FloresMay 1, 2011

UPDATED ON: May 8th, 2015

When the moment of truth arrives we all want to deliver. In an effort to assure the likelihood that this happens, we spend countless hours hammering away at a target in the corner of the lawn. And while that type of practice strengthens shooting muscles it does little to prepare us for the real thing. Still, it seems to be the universal method for pre-season practice. However, if you really want to prepare for bow season, then you’ve got to get off of the ground and do some practicing from a treestand. But, that isn’t always possible and maybe your next adventure has nothing to do with being perched above terra-firma. Then what? How do you prepare for your hunt without shooting at a “block” of foam? Simple….head to the 3D course.


Shooting at the 3D range is as close as you can get to the real thing.

The beauty of 3D shooting is that it mimics real-life scenarios so closely. With varying distances to your target, shooters must rely on range estimation skills in order to make an accurate, killing shot. And while most pay particular attention to final scores, for the bowhunter simply wanting to sharpen his/her skills, “killing shots” are more important than hitting a 12 ring. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t strive for perfection (you can never be too accurate), just don’t live or die by your final score unless your goal is to be a competitive 3D shooter.

If you want to improve your hunting skills, shoot with the same equipment you plan to take afield.

Don’t worry about any special equipment or tools needed in order to get the most out of your time spent on the range. Your current setup is really all you need to become a better bowhunter. In fact, I would rather shoot with the exact setup I plan to hunt with. That way, I can learn the strengths and weaknesses of my rig before I take it hunting and make any necessary adjustments.


Bringing along friends adds a sense of realism to an already realistic situation.

If you really want to make things as realistic as possible, bring some friends along. When shooting amongst your peers you will feel an added sense of pressure to do well. This additional pressure will feel similar to what you experience when the shot happens for real and will better prepare you as a bowhunter. After awhile, you will hopefully be able to handle and manage this pressure and ideally perform well in spite of it. 


They may be great at stopping arrows and helping you sight in your pins, but targets such as these will not condition you for the certain change in scenery when you finally draw down on a live game animal. Prepare your “minds eye” for the real thing by practicing on a realistic target.

One major downfall associated with traditional practice is that no matter how vivid the imagination, it’s difficult to picture your 3-D target in its natural environment as it stands conveniently on a fresh cut lawn; especially if that target is a mind-numbing block of foam.  Imagine the shock to the nervous system if after months of staring through the peep sight at a dull square mass, you’re suddenly resting your pin on the chest of a trophy bull elk, whitetail, or long beard.  Wet noodles come to mind.

 All of the emotional ingredients found in the “real thing” can often be found on the 3D range as well.

If you want to be successful in the field, you can’t afford to simply draw back and shoot with little thought of the situation at hand.  The 3-d course will condition you to consider, and ultimately, shoot through various distractions (limbs, foliage, abrupt changes in terrain, watchful eyes of bystanders) in order to make a clean kill.  The lessons learned are invaluable. 


 There is a better way to prepare for your next hunting adventure and it isn’t in your backyard.

Certainly you can spend your days shooting at a target in the back yard and “maybe” get the job done.  I know a few archers that do just that.  However, if you’re looking for a way to raise the bar and become more proficient at driving an arrow into the sweet spot of your next trophy, it’s time to get out of the backyard.




Steve Flores
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