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Choosing the Right Archery Target

With so many different styles available, before choosing the right archery target you should understand the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Offseason and in-season shooting practice is ultra important for bowhunting success. Shooting accurately is not something that just happens. Accurate shooting takes time, diligence, and attention to detail. One detail people may often overlook is the target they will be shooting at. The right archery target might not be the same for everyone. Each type of archery target has its benefits, and each has its drawbacks. Typically targets are sorted in regards to their style of build (bag, 3-D, foam, paper, etc.). Rather than beat a dead horse, lets take a look at the different aiming systems of archery targets. Looking at the subject from a new perspective might help you choose the right archery target.

Dot Style

[caption id="attachment_6074" align="alignright" width="250"]Dot style archery targets are great for building accuracy. Dot style archery targets are great for building accuracy.[/caption] A dot style archery target is any target that uses crosshairs, bullseye, or other similar aiming point. These are the most common type of target. Dot style targets are great for lots of things. Sighting in your bow, practicing form, and just good old fashion fun shooting are types of shooting that dot style targets are good for. Designed completely for accuracy, dot targets are excellent at building that trait. Another benefit of dot targets is their variety. From the very cheap paper models to more robust 3-D cube type targets, somebody makes a dot target for you. Before my family purchased our new home I used to do a lot of shooting at some public ground close to the house. There wasn't any targets at the location so I had to bring my own. Most days I would simply toss in a my gear, a foam dot style target, and hit the road. For portability dot targets take the cake. Dot style targets give you a very clear and defined point of aim. There is a downside of this and for hunters these targets may not be the best choice. If you persistently aim and fire at a clear point of aim, you may have trouble picking a spot when in a hunting situation. So, while dot style targets are good at developing aiming skills, they won't necessarily develop the aiming skills a hunter needs.

Vital Targets

[caption id="attachment_6075" align="alignleft" width="250"]Vital targets teach archers where to aim on an animal. Vital targets teach archers where to aim on an animal.[/caption] Archery targets that use an animal's vital zone for an aiming point can be called vital targets. Like dot targets, these targets come in a variety of different forms. Some come on paper, some come as 3-D, and even some come as part of a 3-D cube. The biggest advantage of these targets is to hone hunting skills. For a beginning hunter, or even a seasoned hunter, these targets unveil very the kill zone on animals. Vital targets help hunters understand accuracy on real animals. A miss that seems insignificant on a dot target, might show up as a bad hit on an animal. Vital targets can also assist new hunters in learning where to aim on an animal. Think of them as an archery range dissection lesson. There are a few downsides to vital targets though. For starters, these targets still give you a clearly defined point of aim. No whitetail deer will have a large red marker on their side. Another downfall is these targets are not great for sighting in your bow. When sighting in your bow you'll want the dot target design to show minor flaws.

Animal Targets

[caption id="attachment_6076" align="alignright" width="250"]Animal targets force shooters to pick a spot on a life size target. Animal targets force shooters to pick a spot on a life size target.[/caption] For the purpose of this article we'll define anything that displays a real life animal, with no aiming references, as an animal target. Animal targets are a hunters best friend. How much more real could practice get than aiming at a deer target that looks just like a deer? There are a few extraordinary benefits of animal targets. For starters, these targets force hunters to pick a spot and aim. They lack any point of aim like those found on dot and vital targets, and train you to aim like a hunter. This can be difficult, and learning on a target will make live targets much easier. The majority of animal targets have another major benefit as well. Learning to judge distance is a trick all archers should become relatively comfortable with. These animal targets are great at allowing you to judge a life size target at many different distances. Judging distance is very important, as rangefinders are not always an option in a hunting situation. By shooting at a life size target throughout the year, your mind eventually begins to discern distance through the size of the animal. The biggest downfall of animal targets is two fold. Their bulk is typically a drawback. Small targets like hogs and turkeys do not suffer this downfall, but deer and elk targets generally do. I have hauled 3-D targets to practice sessions, but a dot target is much simpler. Also animal targets tend to be a bit pricier than other target types. As with anything, there are pros and cons to each type of archery target.Many folks out there have a diversity of different targets and use the correct one for their practice session. Dot targets, vital targets, and animal targets all have excellent benefits, and none are best at everything. Hopefully this article will help shooters choose the right archery target and make the best purchase for their needs. NEXT: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARROW SPINE SELECTION
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