What is 3D Archery All About?

The usual three-dimensional archery is flat, with targets fixed at specific distances, on the other hand 3D Archery brings the archery into the woods, presents novel angles and develops other opportunities that make their archery much more interesting and enjoyable. 

The name of this discipline is derived from the three-dimensional animal targets that are positioned at each stop. The targets range from small rodents to the large elks and are positioned along a path not unlike a track through the forest. 

Each target presents a different scenario. You may be shooting downward at a deer target, then go a couple of steps in a swamp. These shots attempt to imitate the innumerable scenarios in a forest.

This results in more realistic bow hunting, but 3D archery is not only for hunters, it’s for all archer lovers. For any archer, it’s fascinating because every shot is different and it’ generally played with a smallish archer group.

How to Get Involved in 3D Archery

This type of archery presents a terrific opportunity to catch up with friends or meet new buddies. Many archery clubs often organise open-to-all 3D gatherings which allows everyone to spend a day in the forest walking and shooting. 

Archery stores are also a good resource for local expertise and their employees can assist you to get a 3D shot in the vicinity. 

In addition, you can also gain membership to an archery club for practicing 3D archery. You can set up your own 3D portfolio by buying multiple targets, if you are fortunate enough to have a backyard of suitable size. 

While a ‘3 dimensional’ backyard is a convenient practice space, 3D competitions are more entertaining and social.

When you arrive at a 3D shoot, head to the registration area to pay your entry fee and sign some forms. If you’re alone, maybe ask the organizers if there are any experienced archers who can show you the ropes.

After registering, visit  the practice range to warm up and verify that your sights are correctly set. Once you’re warmed up, hit the course with your group.

You will observe pegs or little flags hammered into the ground at the first target. The shoot position for every target is indicated by these pegs. 

The majority of 3D courses are designed for a variety of equipment and various age brackets. Choose a distance that suits your skill level and that you feel at ease with, particularly if you’re a beginner. 

At every target, you will shoot one arrow from the pegged out distance. 

After everybody shoots then you will move along to the next stop, verify the results and nock your arrows. Then the party moves along to the next destination. This procedure repeats itself all the way to the finish which generally is when 30 or so targets have been completed.

This enjoyable and relaxing pastime generates a healthy level of excitement as the archer’s abilities are developed and refined. Give  3D archery a shot if you’re wanting to combine fun things with your practicing or if you are looking for a new, entertaining activity.

What is a 3D Archery Shoot

Does 3D archery ‘grab you’ but you’ve never had an opportunity to shoot or attend a tournament? Here we’ll cover everything you’ll ever need to know, what to expect plus how the sport of 3D archery actually works.

We’ll cover everything you’ll ever need to know, what to expect plus how the sport of 3D archery actually works. 

And the best part, you are not going to appear like the new beginner on the block.

Let’s Go…

3D shoots are a ton of fun – whether you’re considering hunting, developing your own unique style for setting goals or maybe just a wonderful shooting day with your family or mates. 

And if you understand and become well versed on how it all works, you will learn quicker and be well respected by all.

An important learning factor that will kick-start your 3D archery journey is to understand the basics first up, here’s some quick start information to kick it off…

Precisely, What is 3d Archery?

You are only aiming and firing at stationary targets when you shoot traditional target archery. You could be indoors or outdoors in traditional archery, but you will invariably shoot at your level, in a clear straight line, directly in front. 

While indoor 3D archery shoots do occur, the majority happen in the outdoors.  You will go walking along courses through forests and undulating landscapes which frankly, beats the hell out of standing in one spot and firing straight ahead… boring!  

You’ll be staring down realistic and life-size targets of wild animals including those from the past.

There’s a wide range of 3D animal archery targets available that includes deer, moose, coyotes, bear, wolverines, wolf, elk, boar and turkey and more. Nowadays, practically every species, including dinosaurs, has a 3D archery target created from it! 

You are going to shoot target 3D targets above and below your line of sight, while bushes, undergrowth and trees partially obscure your vision and battling the elements simultaneously. Stiff breezes, pounding rain, mist and fog are all part of the task. 

The ASA (Archery Shooters Association) and the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) are two, well established 3D archery associations. There are many smaller clubs and groups sprinkled around, but the two large ones are the ASA and the IBO.

The majority of 3D tournaments and shootings take their rules from one or the other.

The number of members of each shooting group will vary between venues however you will usually be in a group of 4 participants. You will then proceed to target number 1, everybody takes a shot. In some situations the group members will get 2 shots before heading off to the next stop.  

The results are maintained by a third party and summed up after everybody has finished the course. If you’re in one the groups that kicks off first then you’ll need to be patient while waiting for rest of the group to complete the course.

If you’re a total newcomer to this type of archery it would be of benefit to you to review and understand what you’re planning to do prior to commencement.

Finally, winners are announced and prizes (if there are any) are awarded. Most 3D shoots tend to last between two to three hours or so, but expect to make a day of it if you attend a tournament.

The winners are finally declared and awards (if any) are presented. Most 3D shootings last about 2 or 3 hours, but sometimes longer.

3D Archery Animal Targets

There’s very little difference between 3D archery and field archery in that it takes place in and around a forest and/or rugged terrain. In field archery you shoot at round targets that all look the same… boring!

With 3D archery you’re actually shooting at life size animal targets (or life size pictures of animals) made from foam, these targets look surprisingly realist.

Current style of 3D archery animal targets have existed for a number years, the ASA annually announces the specific objectives in terms of which ‘animals’ will be used for the upcoming competition season.

They tend to rotate targets on an annual basis, adding some to the list and removing some.

How Do 3D Archery Shoots Work?

When you’re moving between targets you will notice pegs hammered into the earth, this is the spot where your next shot will be taken from.

The pegs for the various shooter classes are different colours. In the majority of competitions adult females women, adult males and young people normally usually split into groups. 

You will shoot at targets of 25 to 50 yards on average. In 3D archery there’s two key  tournaments on offer, one where the shooting distances are known to the archers and the other where they are not known. In the main, archers do not know the distances.

 it’s all  part of the game attempting and predicting how far you have to shoot.

The events where the correct distances of the targets is revealed are known ‘distance events’. 

The ASA started to include recognised distance tournaments but generally only for new archers. You may wish to take advantage of this option when starting off with 3D archery career.  

There may be a number of objectives, depending on who is  holding the event. The ASA generally has around 22 events listed for each year and the number of targets can vary from 28 up to 40. Clubs with less members may shoot with any number of targets.

And, don’t discard the smaller suburban clubs.

The majority of these clubs have scaled-down events which are less competitive and it’s a much more social environment, the people friendly and more approachable.

After learning the basics at your smaller club, you may wish to consider the ASA and the IBO tournaments as your next step. This will assist you in avoiding the beginner tag and, to avoid the qualifier events which are generally for the more experienced archers.

If you’re confused about upcoming events it’s best to browse the ASA and IBO websites, they will all have the information you will ever need.

How to Score 3D Archery

The ASA and IBO have varying rules about how to score their 3D turnouts. Local clubs will usually take on the rules from one of the organizations with some local rules of their own thrown in.

Each target has circles painted on them which cover the key area. These circles are referred to as scoring rings and each one has clear 

The ASA rules set a score of 8 points for hitting the critical area (the detachable portion), 10 points for hitting inside the main circle and 12 points for each of the two smaller circles.

This tiny, off-centred circle is typically utilised to decide a winner when scores are tied, it’s worth 14 points.

There’s 5 points on offer for hitting the body anywhere outside the rings, but not including horns. Miss the target altogether and you’ll get zero. Similarly, hitting the horns on a target also scores zero.

With IBO rules there are no 12 or 14 point rings but you get 11 points hitting the smallest ring. Thus, 5 points for outside of the largest ring, 8 points on the main region and 10 points on the biggest ring. 

The little 12 rings would simply be ignored, instead one large ring will give you 12. The 14 ring would would also be ignored.

The little 12 rings would simply be ignored, instead one large ring will give you 12. The 14 ring be ignored and the 14 ring would likewise be ignored. 

When you shoot a direct hit on one of the rings it scores as if you were inside that ring ie, if your shot hits the 10 ring you would be awarded the full 10 points.

Best Bow for 3d Archery

The majority of bows, whether being used in ASA or IBO events, are fine to use in tournaments. The most common types or bows used in 3D archery are  the  recurve bow and the compound bow, they are favourites for most events. And at most events you will see many of these bows being used.  

Traditional wooden bows and longbows are usually permitted, however if you’re unsure you may wish to contact the entity who is running the show and ask or check their website.

The exception, though, is crossbows as most tournaments do not allow them. 

You may discover nearby shoots, which allow the crossbow to be used, crossbows damage most types of targets and 3D targets are quite expensive.  

In some competitions there will be some classes dedicated 3D crossbow archery, although not very many. If you favour the crossbow, you’ll need to find out if there’s a specific class event that caters for this bow. 

As for sights, the rules around the use of sights vary between organisations however fixed pin sights are normally accepted. Laser sights are banned in all current events.  

Best Binoculars for 3D Archery are Those WITHOUT a Rangefinder!

Some clubs and smaller competitions create a distinct class for archers who like rangefinders, but at present there are not many. The majority of 3d archers are of the opinion that using this device is cheating simply because trying to estimate the target range is an important piece of the sport itself. 

If you have a costly pair of binoculars that includes a rangefinder and want to utilise them in a tournament, some competing archers will want to remove the batteries and block the sensor so that it’s obvious to other archers that you don’t use it to determine distances.

If you are considering doing this, you should first have a conversation with the tournament managers just to advise them of what you have planned and to confirm that they’re in agreement.

There are archers who, for 3D tournaments, do like using a rangefinders, but they should first check with those who organised the event to request their permission. 

Also, their score cards are not to be handed in on completion of the course. They do pay the fee to be involved and complete the shoot but do not receive any awards. They are simply playing for the love of the game.

And… don’t bother bringing the broadhead arrows!

What Other 3D Archery Gear Do I Need?

Nothing fancy, just a bow with half a dozen arrows, if your intention is to not shoot anymore than 2 arrows at any target. 

It’s common for archers lock a couple of additional arrows in their car in case they break an arrow or possibly misplace one. 

You’ll need a quiver, wrist guard and gloves (if you wear them) and maybe binoculars in a solid carrying case or waterproof carry bag.

If the shoot is outside don’t forget the sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses and wet weather gear, just in case.

It’s always a smart idea to carry an additional bag with miscellaneous stuff such as snacks, something to drink, a hat and maybe some spare cash.

Should you have children, think about registering them for an event that includes some classes for younger ones. Have a look online for events where you can enter the children and check out any prizes that may be on offer

Shooting at 3D archery events is an excellent approach to teaching children archery, the rules and regulations and acceptable behaviour.

Whatever happens, it gets the kids off their electronic devices for a couple of hours, which is a good thing!

I truly hope this article has been of benefit to you in understanding how 3D archery shoots work and not to be anxious when you attend your first one.

Largely, 3D archers are a hospital lot and they love this sport so son’t be afraid to ask any questions that may be on your mind.

Remember, the only silly questions are the ones you don’t ask.

It’s great to be confident and feel sure of yourself on your first shoot because you now know more than most beginner archers do when they started off.