Photograph by David Brandon Geeting

You don’t have to compete on the pro circuit to enjoy 3D archery any more than a golfer must be a member of the PGA Tour to enjoy a round on the back nine. An unsanctioned shoot hosted by your local archery club with nothing more than a $10 entry fee and bragging rights on the line is great practice and a lot of fun. Here’s what you need to know.

Follow the Rules
Most 3D shoots are set up similar to a golf course, with 20 to 40 targets ranging from groundhogs to bull elk placed at varying distances along a walking trail. In most events, a shooter can get a score of 5 for a hit anywhere in the foam; 8 for the large vital ring; 10 for the small vital ring; or 11 to 12 (depending on the competition) for the tiny ring within the 10-zone.

Be Classy
Shooters are grouped according to equipment and skill level. Traditional archers, for example, are allowed to get closer to targets. Shooters with slider sights and 3-foot stabilizers compete in a different class from those using hunting rigs and fixed three-pin sights.

Take a Guess
Some events are known-distance shoots, in which the targets are set at given distances and rangefinders are allowed. But most are “unknown,” and the shooter must judge the yardage without a rangefinder. These make the best practice for hunters. Yes, you probably use a rangefinder in the field, but your next buck may not give you time to use it. Sanctioned shoots typically set targets at a maximum of 50 yards, but plenty of club shoots stretch that out to 100 or more.