What is Your Effective Bow Range?


Have you ever been asked what your effective bow range is, or asked what it should be?  Well, if either of those is true then you fit right in with the rest of us.  I have been asked more times than I can count what should an effective bow range be?  There is no easy way to answer this question, as there are a lot of variables.  So, I am going to go over some of those variables and try to help clarify this complicated question.

First of all, your range is only good to what you are comfortable with.   I have seen people whom are only comfortable shooting out to 20 yards, and that is where they are accurate.  On the other side, I have seen people whom are comfortable at 60 yards and are accurate.  Again, it is what you are comfortable doing, however, I personally do not recommend shooting past 50 yards at a live target with a normal compound bow.  I feel that the average weight compound bow has lost a lot of energy by the time it gets out to 50 yards and therefore could only harm the deer rather than kill it.  I am sure it can be done, but why risk it?

Personally, I do not have the best eyes, so I stick to 30 yards or less with a standard compound bow. I am not saying I could not shoot further; I am just not as comfortable at any distance longer with the terrain where I hunt.

This brings me to the next factor, what is the terrain you are hunting on?  If you hunt along a farm field or in open areas like Texas, longer shots are common.  However, if you hunt in areas like I hunt in Maryland, it is very thick, dense woods and in many cases 30 yards or less is as far as you could shoot.  I find this to be even truer during the early season before leaves have fallen.  Some of the locations that I hunt in the early season, you cannot see further than 20 yards. If you cannot see, you most definitely cannot shoot.  So think about where you are hunting and practice the shots that you are most likely going to need to take.

Then, you have the equipment part of this question; the equipment you use will help depend on the distance you can shoot effectively.   I shoot a compound bow and have a somewhat short draw length and currently pull around 60lbs.  Therefore, I feel that my effective kill range would be 40 – 45 yards and less.  I try to never take a shoot over 30 yards because that is what I currently have my bow set up for.  So think about your arrow weight, draw length, draw weight, and what your sight is setup for.  If you shoot 70lbs and have a 5 pin sight, then you can probably shoot 10-20-30-40-50 yards if you practice those distances and have sighted your bow in for them.   Say your child hunts with you and only draws 45lbs, has a short draw length, and has light arrows with a 3 pin sight.  They might only be able to shot 15 – 20 – 25 yards.  I encourage younger hunters to start out taking shots 25 yards and under, as there is far more room for the excitement of taking a shot at a deer and the shakes that could come with it. So again, it all has to do with what you practice and what your bow is setup for, along with what you are comfortable with.

I will say that this is a great time of year to raise the poundage on your bow up 2 – 5 pounds and practice shooting; it will condition your arms and could be a great time to try those longer shots and maybe even perfect them.  I normally do this and then will lower my bow back down 2 – 5 pounds around the first of October as it gets cooler, this will make drawing in cold weather with lots of clothes on easier.

All of these factors affect your effective bow range, but in the end, to answer the question to my best ability, I say stay under 50 yards unless you have a crossbow.  Practice what you are comfortable with and whatever distance you are accurate is your effective distance.  Remember just because you can shoot 50 – 60 – 70 yards accurately, think if that shot is going to be a good clean kill, or if you may just wound the deer and never recover it.  Finally, my best piece of advice for getting accurate at distances and ensuring your shooting is where you need to be, use a 3D target that looks like a deer, not just a target.
What is your effective bow range?  How far can you target shoot and how far are you comfortable shooting at a live animal?  Leave a comment below or feel free to ask questions!

3 Responses

  1. warezaholic
    This is exactly the range quotes that I was convinced of based on my back-yard shooting distance of 20 amd 30 yards... Thanks for this information it will come in usefull when I can find an area that I can set up longer target practice ranges...
  2. warezaholic
    PS Micigan has the same kind of hunting conditions you discribe for Maryland... I hope my first deer hunt goes well
    • admin
      Warezaholic, Great to hear from you. Glad to enjoyed our post on bow ranges and hopefully it helped you out. Michigan sounds interesting, never been there but it is interesting that you say the hunting conditions are similar. We wish you the best of luck on your first deer hunt and would love to hear back from you about how it went!

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