Estimating yardage

Home Forums 3-D & Target Archery Estimating yardage

This topic contains 11 replies, has 10 contributors, and was last updated by nova-hunter Nova Hunter 2 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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  • April 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm #575994 Back to Top REPORT

    N spencer

    Joined: 2/10/2013
    Location: N.C.
    How’s the best way to estimate yardage when shooting 3D. I know practice and experience is number one but just looking for any tricks that might help.
    April 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm #576124 Back to Top REPORT

    Joined: 4/14/2013
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    Count me on this discussion as well. It would be great to get some tips from the pros on this.{#emotions_dlg.mathews_arrow}
    Hunt or be hunted
    May 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm #576379 Back to Top REPORT
    Bow Drawn

    Age: 64
    Joined: 11/14/2007
    Location: Ohio
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    My suggestions is to get a range finder involved. Then go for walk in some park or wood lot and start guessing how many paces or steps it is to a tree or rock but you have to know how long your stride is to make this work. Once you guess it take a range finding to it. You’ll learn how to eyeball 10 yards and then out to 20 yards by doubling that and so on.
    Another way is to throw a softball out in yard or ball park and guess distances and then range it.

    One other way I read is to tie a 100 ft or more rope to your ankle with a rag on the end. Then go for a walk where it won’t get in the way of others. If you are out in the woods it will give you some simulation to 3D distances to guess when you stop especially since you know how long the rope is to the rag. It’s easy to vary this so it will work for your needs.

    Like you said it is practice but knowing how long your stride is can make the guess a bit easier. You visualize looking at the path to the target how many steps it takes to it or half way then double it. Hope all this is a help.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by bow-drawn Bow Drawn.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by bow-drawn Bow Drawn.
    May 4, 2013 at 12:50 am #576815 Back to Top REPORT

    Joined: 8/4/2004
    I find a spot between me and the target I believe to be 20 yards, and judge the distance from that spot to the target.{#emotions_dlg.mathews_thumbs_up}
    May 4, 2013 at 8:36 am #576829 Back to Top REPORT

    Joined: 11/17/2007
    Location: Ontario
    The above posts are all very true…… Another thing to consider is to try and be very familiar with the 3D animals that you may be shooting at. A small feeding doe VS a large buck target will play tricks on your brain. Especially if they are placed down a shady lane.

    As Ricky stated….. the mental 20yd marker is a great one to start with. I myself at longer distances will go with a straight guess and then split the distance in half…. to see if my original guess was in the ball park. After my base number is chosen I will then add or subtract yardage + or –  in single yard increments.

    Hope this helps.

    May 5, 2013 at 8:10 pm #576982 Back to Top REPORT

    Joined: 11/9/2005

    I find a spot between me and the target I believe to be 20 yards, and judge the distance from that spot to the target.{#emotions_dlg.mathews_thumbs_up}

    This is what i try to do too,I practiced judging 20 yards in hilly woods,open flat spots and up and down hill using a rangefinder after i’ve already judged and shot,it has helped me a lot.Then i try to judge from 20 yards to the target .

    One of the only things that has really worked for me judging yardage.

    May 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm #577188 Back to Top REPORT

    Age: 55
    Joined: 11/1/2008
    Location: Oregon
    I use Rick and Marks suggestions….

    I use my range finder during the day when I am on a walk or doing an outside activity. I’ll look at an object and estimate the yardage. Then checking it with my rangefinder after my estimation. This has got me to a point of being good at estimating when I cant use the rangefinder such as 3D shoots.
    When I stand at the line/stake I look at the target then I find where 20 yards is between me and the target. I then add 20 to know 40 yards then subtract or add from there. Seems like a lot but really it happens quickly in your mind when you practice this method.

    good luck..


    The history of the bow and arrow is the history of mankind............Fred Bear
    June 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm #579660 Back to Top REPORT

    Age: 72
    Joined: 10/3/2006
    Location: Colorado
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    I don’t believe there is one “best” way to estimate yardage. For example, picking a 20 yd spot then mentally flipping it over to get to the target works OK until you have to shoot across an open ravine or open water. Likewise, picking a spot halfway to the target, estimating its range, then doubling doesn’t work well over open water or a chasm.
    Probably the best approach is to use a combination of techniques, figure out why the differences or average out the estimates:
    1. Pick a 20 yd increment in front of you, then figure how many 20 yd increments there are to the target.
    2. Pick a spot you believe to be 20 yds in front of the target, then walk back in increments.
    3. Pick a mid-point, estimate it, both from you and from the target, then double it.
    4. Pick an object (tree, rock, etc.) about the same distance as the target but off away from the target, estimate it, then estimate the target. Works well shooting across chasms and over water.
    5. For steep downhill, pick a tree about the same distance as the target, estimate yardage to the tree on the level (up on the trunk). If no tree, etc. to use and no “cut sheet”, cut distance in percentage by 1/2 the estimated angle [30º downhill, estimate yardage and cut by 15% (40 yd target shoot for 34 yds)].
    6. For steep uphill and no cut sheet, estimate distance to the target, cut the distance in percentage by 1/2 the estimated angle.
    7. When in doubt, add 5 yds and aim at the bottom of the 10-ring.

    Most top Pros become familiar enough with the various 3D targets that they get the yardage estimate from the target’s apparent size…just remember, small targets appear farther away than they are, large targets appear closer than they are. This technique takes hours and hours of range practice.

    … like said, a laser rangefinder is an invaluable training aide.

    June 2, 2013 at 11:44 am #579727 Back to Top REPORT


    Age: 56
    Joined: 10/29/2007
    Location: AL
    View My Bows
    First, listen to folks like Brian (GJARCHER).  You never know what you might learn when you start following the breadcrumbs he puts out here.
    Second, consider the following, it is not all about learning to judge the range.

    As a fighter pilot, I spent my life doing target study — How big is it?  Translates to how far I was — or for similarly appearing targets — if I knew the range could help differentiate the target type.   Exactly where is my aim point on the target area?  If I wasn’t exactly on release parameters, then how should I adjust for being a little steep on dive angle or fast or speed?

    Was I carrying a launch and leave type weapon, or was I carrying one that required follow through — lasing or data-linking till impact.
    It is not so different in the archery world.  If you are hunting, use realistic 3d replicas of the target animal.  Look at it at the various ranges — both inside and outside of what you would consider as your ethical shot range.  Study that animal to ingrain where it’s vitals are so that you know where to shoot it.
    If you are competing in 3D tournaments, do a little home work to find out what targets you will be seeing.
    Learn the target dimensions — which ones are about the same depth from back line to belly line?  What are the sizes of the scoring rings?  Get or build yourself target cards for study.
    See this post on ASA targets.  Don’t know if your organization publishes this kind of info or not.
    Learn to judge the range, but also learn how to adjust for the unusual — a target at ground blind close — 2 or 3 yards.  You might be surprised by your miss distance.  For one of my setups, I have to shoot 2 yards as 72 yards — but for another as 61 yards.  Try aiming at a 3d skunk at 2 yards with your 20 yard pin and get a zero.
     Uphill or downhill shots — short range yards at steep inclines or declines.  You will have to correct for parallax and a changed arrow speed.
    Also consider your pin settings and the allowable range error to still attain a hit.  Brian alluded to this when he said, “Add 5 yards and aim at the bottom of the 10 ring.”  You can arrive at that information via experimentation (albeit subject to your own ability) or by using software.
    Leadership is 24/7/365. You are always leading by example ... Somebody is always watching--even if it is just you.
    June 3, 2013 at 9:45 am #579846 Back to Top REPORT

    Age: 72
    Joined: 10/3/2006
    Location: Colorado
    View My Bows
    The method I gave for cutting distances up/down hill is very crude, but with some practice works out pretty well … A Marine Gunny Sgt gave me that tip for battle field conditions and I’ve used it with good effect on several cow elk using a .30-06 as well as 6×6 Bull at about 40 yds 30º down angle using a bow when I’d left my rangefinder back in camp.

    However, if you want to be more precise for competition, then you’ll need an inclinometer and a cut sheet.

    Inclinometer: This reads out the angle. The problem with inclinometers is that they are expensive $$$$ and if they have increments marked in the viewer, may be disqualifying. Of course, angle compensated rangefinders would also not be allowed. So, here is a cheap DIY inclinometer:
    Cut a 3.75″ disk out of 3/16″ thick polycarbonate and drill a center hole. Next, drill and tap a small hole anywhere on the edge for a 2″ machine screw. Add lead weights to the machine screw and screw into the disk. Take 12″ of 3/4″ aluminum angle, cut into 8″ and 4″ section. Drill a hole in the 8″ section near one end, and drill a small hole 2″ on center from the first hole for a small nail pointer to be epoxied in place. Drill a 1/8″ hole in about the middle of the 8″ piece and pop rivet the 4″ section in place for the folding handle. Paint the pointer red and the end of the 8″ piece near the disk red, or some other color to help as a visual aide. Hold the inclinometer and sight level, mark the zero angle on the edge of the disk. Make a 3″ x 3/16″ tape and mark it off in 10º major increments and 5º minor increments (0º to 45º will be 1.5″, each 10º increment will be 1/3rd inch ). Adhere the tape to the edge of the disk aligning the zero marks. Now all you need is a cut sheet.



    Cut Sheet: The easiest way to make a cut sheet is with OnTarget2 SFA, TAP, or AA software. Here are a couple of my OT2 cut sheets. As you can see by comparing the 322 fps chart to the 263 fps chart, the arrow speed is so much greater than Gravity’s vectors that even a difference of 60 fps doesn’t really change the cut distance by more than a few inches of range. If you don’t have software, you could safely use one of these sheets. Notice, since some of Gravity ‘pushes’ the arrow on the downhill, the downhill cut is greater than the uphill cut where some of Gravity ‘pulls’ back on the arrow speed on the uphill.


    But, as pointed out, when very, very close, parallax outweighs arrow speed or effects of gravity. The best way to get your sight settings up close is by Trial & Error. Straddle a line 6′ from a target with a dot the size of a pencil eraser and find what yardage hits the dot, repeat for 9′, 12′, 15′, 18′, and 21′. The angle or arrow speed won’t affect the results.

    … hope this helps. {#emotions_dlg.mathews_peace}

    June 3, 2013 at 10:16 am #579852 Back to Top REPORT

    Age: 72
    Joined: 10/3/2006
    Location: Colorado
    View My Bows
    … but precise yardage estimation and accurate cuts on angled shots won’t help if you don’t know where to aim. {#emotions_dlg.mathews_peace}

    Small photo albums for 4×6 prints are available at Walmart/Target/K-Mart/Staples, etc. Start collecting images of 3D targets and building a Cheat Book.

    Many of the images can be ‘captured’ from the Rinehart, McKensie, and Delta websites. Use the Print-Screen (Prt-Scn) key to capture the monitor image, open photo-editing software, select File>New then Edit>Paste, crop, mark, then Save and Print.

    June 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm #580894 Back to Top REPORT
    Nova Hunter

    Joined: 3/16/2013
    Location: Nova Scotia
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    One common mistake is to judge your distance from behind the stake (while waiting), this can create doubt on your yardage when you are at the stake to make the shot as the distance will have appeared longer.
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