Getting Started In 3D Archery

By Brodie SwisherMay 5, 20145 Comments

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

Warmer days are upon us, and it’s time to shake off the long winter lull in outdoor activities. Whether its spring turkey hunting, bowfishing, chasing black bears, or shed hunting, there are more activities in the months of Spring than you can possibly squeeze into your hunting schedule. But in all your planning, don’t forget to make time for shooting some foam at the local 3D archery course. That’s right! Shooting 3D targets will no doubt be one of the most exciting and challenging endeavors you can take part in as you hone your archery and bowhunting skills. Don’t have any experience with 3D tournaments? No problem! Here are a few things to help get you headed in the right direction.

Bow arrow and target

If you’re looking for a great way to prep for bow season then look no further than the 3D range. It is the perfect method way to improve your bowhunting skills.

The Basics

Much like a golf course where you walk through and play holes numbered 1-18, a 3D archery course presents the shooter with a walk-through course featuring a variety of 3D animal targets. Depending on the shoot/tournament, you may be shooting 20, 30, or 40 targets. And you never know what you’ll find on these courses. Deer, turkey, elk, antelope, bear, cougars, elk, and small game critters are the norm. Unmarked distances at each target require the shooter to quickly hone his or her distance judging skills. Shots may range from an up-close shot at a raccoon target to a 60-yard long bomb on an elk target; depending on what division you are shooting in.

Archers and a Target

You can get as involved in the 3D archery game as you like but you should always try to make the experience fun.

A score card allows you and the group you’re shooting in to record scores of 5, 8, 10, 12, or 14 points depending on where you hit the target. At the end of the day, the shooter with the most points wins. However, many people simply shoot these targets for fun and practice and do not concern themselves with keeping score for competition. The choice is yours. The key is to keep it fun. Most 3D tournaments take place on the weekend, with many being a one day event taking place on Sunday. Cost for each shoot varies depending on the host.

Geared Up For 3D Archery

The beauty of 3D archery is that you’ll basically shoot the same setup you would when bowhunting. There’s not a lot of extra equipment involved. Sure, there are various divisions in every tournament that allow for competition bows that are geared specifically for tournament shooting. These bows include super-long stabilizers, scoped sights, and look nothing like the bow you would use when hunting. However, each 3D shoot will feature a “Bowhunter Division” where shooters shoot the same gear they would while on an actual hunt. And this is likely the best possible practice you can take part in to build on your bowhunting skills.

Archer in Drawn Stance

Don’t worry about fancy 3D setups. If your main purpose is to become a better bowhunter then your bowhunting rig is exactly what you need to be using.

Other gear you may want to consider would include a hip quiver, folding stool, and a water bottle to help make those long hot days on the archery range more enjoyable. Depending on the shoot, you may or may not be allowed to use other gear such as a rangefinder or binoculars. As you progress in the sport of 3D archery you’ll likely find yourself wanting to add your own 3D targets to the backyard so you can practice anytime you please. Leading 3D archery targets are manufactured by Rinehart Targets ( and Delta McKenzie Targets (

Where to Go

3D archery opportunities vary by states and regions, but there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find a tournament taking place within 45 minutes of your house nearly every weekend through the Spring and Summer months. Spend some time on the computer to research3D tournaments in your area. You can also check with the local archery shop for advice on where the next shoot will be. Many times your local archery pro shop will actually be hosting a tournament themselves that you can participate in. Google 3D archery in the state that you call home and you’ll likely find more 3D archery opportunities than you can handle. The R100 3D archery event, hosted by the crew at Rinehart Targets, continues to grow each year and is touted as the most fun and exciting 3D event in the world.

Elk Archery Target

For the ultimate 3D experience attend one of the many R100 shoots offered throughout the country this 3D season. You won’t be sorry.

From Anteaters to Zebras and everything in between, the R100 is sure to have nearly every target you could possibly want to shoot. This is an event like no other, featuring 100 outrageous, silly, and down-right scary targets! At the R100 you can shoot either 100 targets over two days or 50 targets in only one day. You don’t even have to score the targets and you still have a chance at winning door prizes at the R100 event. Prizes total over $6,000 at each event, and anyone can win! Check it out at

Turkey archery Target in Snow

Despite the crazy winter we’ve had, you can still enjoy some fun on the 3D range. If you can handle the cold that is.

With minimal investment in gear, 3D archery just might be the best bang for your bowhunting bucks. If you’re looking for a fun, challenging, and very addicting sport to pursue with your friends or family members this summer, try 3D archery. You’ll have more archery fun in the off-season and strengthen your bowhunting skills like never before.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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