Here's What You Need To Know About 3D Archery

Posted by Darrin Christenberry on Mar 1, 2017 12:00:00 PM
Darrin Christenberry


3D Archery season is here! Archers around the world will compete throughout the spring and summer at numerous outdoor shooting events. 3D archery is great for competitive archers but also draws a large number of hunters due to its emulation of hunting situations.


What is 3D Archery?

Like golf, archers walk around an outdoor course and shoot at 3 dimensional targets. The outdoor elements have an impact on shooting, and archers can be faced with extreme temperatures, high winds, or heavy rain. Targets are usually realistic animals, such as turkey, deer, and bear, but can include some non-existent or extinct creatures, such as zombies and dinosaurs. Targets are placed around the course at varying distances and in varying landscapes. Archers get one shot per target and then move on to the next station. Depending on the tournament, archers can shoot 20-40 targets.


How is 3D Archery scored?

Each target in the course is marked by a number of rings, located around the vitals, or the “kill zone” of whatever animal it is. Each ring is scored differently. An arrow just has to touch a higher ring to count as the higher score. There are 2 organizations that lead 3D archery, ASA and IBO, and each have a different scoring system. You can see the scoring of each organization below.


ASA and IBO Scoring. Photo from Frontier Archery.


Are the distances marked?

In 3D tournaments, you can either enter into a “Known” or “Unknown” division, which refers to distance. In the Known Division, the distance for each target is marked. In the unknown division, rangefinders are not allowed and archers have to judge the distance for themselves. This adds an extra level of difficulty to the event. Targets often range from 10 to 80 yards.


Are there any restrictions?

In an ASA event, there is a maximum speed of 290 fps. Speed is measured at check in to assure all archers meet the requirement. IBO only has a maximum speed for youth classes, but does enforce a rule of arrows weighing at least 5 grains per pound of their bow’s draw weight. Because the event takes place outdoors, there are other natural elements to consider. Weather, landscape, and terrain can all limit a shooter’s ability.


What kind of equipment is needed?

There are two basic setups used in 3D archery, a hunter set up and an open class set up, and it mostly comes down to stabilizers and sights. The hunter set up uses a front stabilizer of 12” or less with a fixed pin sight and no scope lens. The open class set up allows for any length of stabilizer and any number of rear stabilizers to help balance the bow. Moveable pin sights are used and magnification scopes are allowed to accommodate for the increased distances shooters face in the open class. The set up you choose will ultimately come down to personal choice. Some shooters like to use the same set up for both hunting and 3D to keep their practice routine consistent. Some prefer to use an open class set up because they do well with the added balance of the longer stabilizers.


What kind of skill is required?

You can join a 3D event at any skill level and just about any age! Events often have both youth and senior divisions and are great practice for archers who are just learning the sport and lifelong professionals.


What is the cost/payout of these events?

Costs and payouts vary by event and company. Many bow companies provide a contingency plan, which is how much they pay the winner of certain events and classes. Check the website of the bow company you shoot for their contingency plan and payout schedule. Generally, payouts range from $100 to $15,000, but can reach into the tens of thousands at higher levels and prominent events.

Click here to view the contingency plan of Elite Archery.


Where can I go to find one of these events?

Luckily, these events take place all over the country nearly every weekend during the spring and summer! Check with your local archery dealer to get dates and locations nearest you. 


If you are a hunter or are interested in fine-tuning your target skills, you should try a 3D shoot. It makes for a fun weekend of meeting people with similar interests (including some pros!), practicing archery, and potentially some extra cash at the end. If you consistently do well at these events, you may even get the attention of some big brands for sponsorships.

Topics: Insider



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