There’s no better feeling than heading into hunting season with complete confidence in your shooting ability. All the scouting and preparation eventually comes down to one shot. If done right, you’ll fill your freezer with venison and feel happy and satisfied. Realize, however, that lethal shots and the confidence to execute them require realistic practice long before opening day.
If you’re seeking a fun way to practice realistic hunting shots, then look no further than the hunter and animal round. These rounds are part of field archery, which is practiced in wooded settings. The targets are set on a course, and archers walk from target to target to shoot. Your local archery shop can help you find a nearby club and schedule of upcoming field archery events.
What do These Rounds Teach Us?
Practicing on a flat range works well for general archery practice, but bowhunting requires dynamic shooting. Bowhunters should feel comfortable shooting uphill, downhill, through trees and at various distances. In field archery, you practice all these shots and build accuracy. Also, in the animal round, you’ll learn where to aim on various game animals, ranging from pint-sized rabbits to dominant bears and bull elk.
Besides practicing practical bowhunting skills, you’ll enjoy the camaraderie common to archery shoots. It’s a great way to meet other bowhunters, be part of the archery community, and even pick up pointers from experienced archers. Most importantly, it’s FUN!
How do You Get Involved?
You local archery shop can help you find a club that offers field archery. You can shoot informally to get a feel for the animal and hunter rounds. You can also attend shoots or even shoot competitively.
You don’t need special target archery equipment to participate. In fact, shoots offer separate divisions for various equipment from compound hunting bows to traditional archery divisions. Just bring what you have and have fun.
If that sounds like something you want to try, here are the basics of each round.
The Animal Round
The animal round consists of two 14-target rounds. The targets are printed images of various animals, with two scoring rings. One ring represents the kill zone (20-point max) and the other is the rest of the body (18-point max).
Both rounds mark the shooting positions, called stakes, for each target. The stakes are usually a colored square specifying the distance.
Just like in bowhunting, the goal is to put one arrow into the kill zone. Because this is practice and for fun, you get three shots to hit the animal. But, you’re penalized 4 points off the maximum point value for each arrow after the first shot.
For example, if your first shot misses, you move to the next closest stake to the target. For your second shot, instead of a shot in the vitals scoring 20 points, it now scores 16 points. If you miss again, you get one more try at the next closest stake, but the highest score possible is 12 points.
The idea is to shoot the fewest arrows possible for the highest score. A perfect round is 28 arrows shot and a score of 560. For all rules for the animal round, check out the video above from the NFAA or click here.
The Hunter Round
Like the animal round, the hunter round is two rounds of 14 targets. Archers shoot four arrows at each target for 112 arrows total. These circular targets have a white center and black outer rings. The white center circle scores 5 points and the outer rings score 4 and 3 points, respectively.
To score hunter round targets, add the cumulative scores of your four arrows. You keep a running total of each target’s score and, at the end of the round, the person with the highest score wins.
For more information, watch the excellent video above explaining the rules of a hunter round.
Offseason archery practice gets you ready to make great shots in the fall, and hunter and animal rounds are fun ways to practice and meet other bowhunters. Check out a local archery shop to locate a club or event and get started in field archery.