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"So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Old 12-05-2007, 09:50 AM
Giant Nontypical
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Default "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

I thought I would post this here quickly (because some of us have real jobs that require actual work during the day)
I have received enough private inquiries about 3D shooting that I thought it might warrant it's own topic and I just happened to have this saved to send people who asked for it.
I don’t shoot Hunter Class anymore but this set of “Instructions” should help anyone looking to jump up to more serious competition from just local "fun shooting". This is a real basic “tutorial” if you will and I am posting it here because I know there are a lot of Bowhunters who want to maybe jump to more serious competition but are not sure what it takes to be truly and HONESTLY competitive on a regular basis. (Well aside from some natural ability LOL)

I know I’m not exactly Jeff Hopkins but this is the stuff that has helped me be pretty proficient in shooting 3D with pin sights.

And before anyone gets their undies in a wad, I’m describing 3D as a target game here, where there are winners and guys who aren’t winning, and we keep score for the sake of competition. Some guys can’t and won’t look at 3D in this way or look down on the “Serious” guys so if you’re one of them it’s best you click your “Back” button now. LOL (Save the debate for some other time.)

Equipment Basics
If you are planning to actually compete in a REAL sanctioned Hunter Class (vs what local clubs sometimes call Hunter Class) there are some equipment restrictions first off, 12" or shorter stabilizer, 4" fletch, screw in points , no more than 4 fixed pins and 5grs/lb arrow weightfor IBO shoots. ASA allows small vanes and lens on top of that I think but it’s best to have a set up that will work for both and that’s one that is legal for IBO. Generally IBO legal equipment will fly in any local, state or national event. Read the rules sheet for equipment on the or ASA website under HC for the full list of details.

Sights: SMALL pin diameter (.019 max) on a good sight like a Spot-Hogg Hogg-It, Copper John or Viper Pro etc. You need 2nd and 3rd axis adjustment (some will say you don't but I can guarantee you these aren’t the guys winning anything but maybe the local yocal shoot at the local gun club).
You will do a lot of uphill and downhill shooting and if your 2nd and 3rd axis aren't adjusted properly you'll leave points all over the place, especially at a shoot like IBO Worlds where it can be very steep and they “Trick” up the shots a bit.
These are also generally better made sights and you don’t have to worry about knocking off the zero or having them creep. ( The new wrap style .010 Spot Hogg , Hogg it is terrific and what I will be shooting for MBR class).
You want the smallest pins that you can see in a variety of light that won’t “Flare” out and you can see through in bright conditions.
If you shoot indoors, add a sight light for competition as you know fiber optic stinks indoors on it's own.
Also one of the sights like I mentioned with a longer sight plane are inherently more accurate by extending the sight plane (like a rifle VS a pistol)
You can get away with a regular old .029 hunting sight with bright pins for some close shots but the first time you have to shoot back into a low sun or sombine that with any distance you might as well be using “the force”.

Long story short, you will absolutely be at a disadvantage with a short bodied large diameter pin hunting sight.
You will see some routine 25yard shots but you'll also see some "Big Boy" shots.

34 yd Turkey in Shadows, 35 yd Javelinas etc.
Hitting The big boy shots and the ability to pound the X's on the close ones separate the good shooters who are happy hitting 10’s, from the guys who are going to win.

*Also stick to ROUND pin guards and peep sights that properly match the diameter of your pin guard. A proper fit allows just a small halo or ring of light to show around the outer edge of your pin guard when it is perfectly centered. Proper peep fit will also be determined by how far the peep is from your eye which will change with varying string angles caused by shorter or longer ATA lengths on bows.
You need to be able to see the entire outer edge of your pin guard so that you know for sure its entirely centered and that's what a small gap of light allows you to see. If you can't see the edge your peep is too small........if you see a bunch of light or background around the edge of the pin guard it's too big.

You will be centering the pin guard in the peep everytime, and NOT the individual pins.
Choose sights with smallish pin guards VS the very large ones seen on some hunting sights. Most of your high end competition style pin sights like the Hogg-It come in, or are available in a 2" diameter guard (+/-) That's as big as I want to go. Proper peep fit will still allow plenty of light for all shooting conditions.

Sight Settings:
This depends a lot on how fast your bow is, but 20-30-40 sight setting is for the guy who will come in 27th place.
I know you will hear guys screaming “Well I use my hunting bow and I beat everyone yadda yadda…….” To that I reply “Yeah OK.” There’s no use arguing with them or pointing out my name in relation to theirs on the score sheet.
Trust me, if you want to win anything other than the “Sunny Rod Gun Club Open” you need PRECISION. Hunter Class is all about not dropping 8's and hitting X's. You NEED high X counts or you will not score with the top shooters.
In order to hit a lot of X's you need a finer aiming gap than 10 yard increments. This is why you need small pin and thin pin blocks.
You need to drop the gaps and still be able to see the target beyond.

My pin gaps were set at 22-27-32-37 @ 285fps(37-38 is the max for IBO HC so you know you will never have to hold high)
The 5 yard gaps give me precision in aiming.
If a target is 25 yards away it's much easier to bracket 22 and 27 precisely than it is 20-30.
Also you will see a good many targets actually AT 27-28 and 32-33 yards and you'll find yourself now able to just aim dead on.

Remember 10’s aren’t good enough.

Practice your gaps! Regardless of what pin settings you decide on, know exactly how you need to "Gap" pins at every single yard beyond your first pin.

I sight in at 22-27-32-37 and then shoot EVERY yardage in between. I know EXACTLY where my bow hits at 31 yards or 26 yards. And you don't do this by holding one pin high or low and referencing that, you actually aim with the AIR or “Gaps” between the pins staring right at the spot you want to hit and shade the gap in the direction of the yardage. This is much more accurate than trying to decide how high to hold, just pretend that there is a 26 or 30 yd pin in there and shoot with the invisible pin.

I use this same principle in MBR class only I use 28,33,38,43,48 to compensate for the yardages I will see out to almost 50 yards vs. the shorter HC yardages.

YARDAGE: Major Big Time important!!!
This is all a waste of time if you can't tell the difference between 27 yds and 31yds or 30 vs 34. Practice yardage all the time. Learn 20 yards. And you should hope to become +/- 2 or 3 yds or better beyond 30 consistently. Again we’re after x’s NOT just 10’s

Make sure you learn what 20 yards looks like inside and out in any setting and then work from there. Find 20 yards and if I determine that the target is under 30 I picture steps to target beyond 20 yards. If I think it's beyond 30 I find 20 and then add 1/2 again to find 30 and add steps from there….And also work that backwards I’ll ask myself what would that target look like 5 yds closer.
Basically don't be satisfied with "About 28 yards" Be confident that you are shooting at a target at an exact distance.

Shot Execution:
When you come up with a yardage number STICK TO IT!!!!!!!. I cannot stress that point enough! Don't get to full draw and change your mind or worry about shooting high or low. If you do, just pencil in the 8 now and save the shot and embarrassment.Trust your yardage.
At that point you want toonly concentrate on executing the shot properly with back tension….you cannot be questioning ANYTHING at that moment.
Get into a routine of breathing, how you hold your bow, how you glass the target, everything. Shot execution starts the second you decide on a yardage.

Do the same exact thing every single shot when you set up….especially your breathing. I blow out a big breath as I come to full draw, inhale as I settle in and aim and as I slide through pulling the shot off I am slowly exhaling. If the shot does not go off and I run out of air…….LET DOWN> Start over, if you force shots you will make bad ones 9 times out of 10.


By the absolute best 8X roof prism binos you can afford. If you can't see small scoring rings you are dead meat.
Arrows: Fat arrows rule.

You'll pick up quite a few X's and borderline points in HC with fat arrows that you simply won't get with small diameter hunting style carbon arrows.
Fat arrows can be a detriment at longer yardages due to drag and wind drift for the Open Class guys but that VERY seldom comes into play in HC.
HC is all about cutting lines and if you have 2 guys with equal shooting skills and one is shooting skinny A/C/C’s and the other is shooting say big Gold Tip X-Cutters the skinny arrow guy is already points behind before the first arrow is shot. give yourself every advantage possible before you get into shooting ability!!
I used Gold Tip Pro 22’s and X-Cutters with 4” Flex Fletch FLP400 low profile vanes. They are very light stabilize great and conform to the rules of HC. Regular 4 or 5” vanes are just too heavy and drag too much. Also make sure you have some bushings or pin nocks to protect the back of your shafts…….they will take a BEATING with a good group of shooters.
I still use these same arrows but with different vanes for MBR class.

Learn proper back tension and let the shot surprise you regardless of what style you decide on. If you aren't used to shooting like this with a surprise release, get up close on a blank bale or target and practice. The shot will startle you , if it didn't and your hand remains exactly where it was at anchor then you DIDN'T shoot that shot with proper back first it will startle you, when you get a grip on it then it will surprise (but you expect it) and it will not startle you anymore.
I personally shoot a Carter Thumb trigger with back tension.
You can't get away with mashing an index wrist style release and expect to score with the real top shooters, it's not hard, it's impossible. I know personally that I could never shoot at the level I do shooting a hunting style index release…..I’d just be middle of the pack. Some guys can do it effectively though but it takes discipline and practice to not just hammer or pull the trigger. BOTH are wrong.

This is VERY important:
When you are looking at a 3D target don't find the scoring rings and then try to REMEMBER where they are based upon triangulation. In other words don't look at a target and say "Ok Up the leg, and straight back from the nose".....that's not precise enough.
You need to find exact things to aim at. A small shadow just to the left of the X, a prominent shot out hole or crease, a shiny spot on the foam, changes in body color or a painted spot etc.

Find something definite to aim at, commit to a yardage and execute the shot.
That's all there is to it.

Good Luck and if you have any questions let me know.

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Old 12-05-2007, 10:00 AM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Absolutely terrific post.

The only thing I'd add is that if you want to get REALLY good at learning how to judge yardage, this practice is best done with no bow in your hand. Take dedicated time to learn this aspect of the sport and you will get better than the people your shooting against. It's not fun and it's boring, but I can guarantee 99.9% of the guys out there are not doing it and this gives you a significant advantage. The best 3D shooters I know of, guys that have been succesful at the world championship level in semipro and pro classes are spending as much time on this part of the game as they are actually shooting, it's that important.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:02 AM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"


Thanks, Matt.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:06 AM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Hey, you forgot to add that when it comes to hunting, you need to grab a stick and string bow, lay on you belly, shoot a monster and take out(nearly) an eye in the process. Other than that it looks like you covered all the bases.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:46 AM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

awesome post...thanks Matt...i shoot them just for fun with the buddys and to practice my skills....but who wants to shoot 8s all day?? we dont get competative or anything...but like to tease each other a little, and noone wants to look bad...ive never had troubles hanging with anyone ive shot with(my buddys) but this post should gimme some extra edge...the viper sights already planned before reading this should help, and carrying binocs will really help..and i know i gotta work on my yardage estimation...i got good after a couple shoots, but i know right now, just by not shooting them for a while now, i already lost what i had...
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:39 AM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Great post Matt! One thing that I would have a question on, and I'm sure others do as well, in terms of equipment is your peep. A hunters peep that lets a lot of light in is great for hunting, but diminishes the precise level of accuracy you are looking for.
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:54 AM
Giant Nontypical
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Great post Matt! One thing that I would have a question on, and I'm sure others do as well, in terms of equipment is your peep. A hunters peep that lets a lot of light in is great for hunting, but diminishes the precise level of accuracy you are looking for.
EXCELLENT question, and I edited the original post withmy answer under Sights
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Old 12-05-2007, 12:57 PM
Dominant Buck
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"


I'm no longer a young whipper snapper (43). The sight pins on my Viper (I have .019 and .010 pins) "elongate" (moreso indoors than out). Is a clarifier lens in my peep within the guidelines for hunter class?

Also....while I'm at it...Since you would need to get used to the 22, 27, 32, 37 pins.....and since we're (us east coasters) not used to extremely long shots while we're hunting.....Do you set up your hunting rig the same way (sight pin ydgs)?
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Old 12-05-2007, 01:01 PM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Page 5 C.6 of the IBO rule book:

[ol][*]A verifier or clarifier style peep sight will be allowed in all classes that permit the use of sights [/ol]

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Old 12-05-2007, 01:13 PM
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Default RE: "So you wanna learn how to shoot 3D?"

Great post Matt, extremely helpful. I have been wanting to get into doing some shoots. Now that I have a little more advantage than the competition, I have to give it a shot. Put this up to with the "Take Quality Pictures" thread.
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