Calibrating the laser rangefinder in your head can be much easier than you think. Just as our minds have learned how to execute a perfect release, we can also learn how to quickly calibrate the distance to the intended archery target.
Years ago, an archery target and 3D publication held a small yardage contest with the top Pros. It was an eye opener for me as a new 3D shooter. The Pros were within a yard each time of their estimates. So I set off to learn the game and the intricacies involved in getting that number.
One thing we all should remember with yardage judging is everyone makes mistakes. Even the top Pros will get stumped from time to time. With that said, don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake field judging your archery shoots, just learn from it and move on.
Yardage judging for archery is a discipline just like archery shooting, and you must approach it as such. If you don’t have a game plan for practice, than your improvements will be sluggish at best. It’s also a complex discipline and I’ll keep the article to the basics.
Here is the first trick I share with people who are new or struggling archers. Block out any distractions in your mind, just look at the archery target and blur out anything around it. Come up with a number that you think it may be. Look away and refocus on something else, then look back at the target and repeat. Are the numbers the same? Range it and compare your estimate. If you are way off, then stare at it again. The object is for your brain to remember what the target looks like at that distance. If you shoot enough 3D and pay attention to what each target looks like at certain distances, you’ll understand this better.
While I’m at work making Bowstrings and have all the stretchers filled and have down time, I’ll go over to the window and look out and stare/analyze the 3D target set at a known (35yds) distance. Oftentimes I’ll get so used to looking at the same target distance I’ll have to change targets around, because I’ll memorize it quickly.
This body size judging is just one element, there are many more to use effectively.
Ground judging your archery targets is another and quite similar to the body judging as far as using the brain to calibrate. You learn what different yardages look like in different terrain basically. If you practice at home at 40 yard, than on tournament day, you’ll be able to pick up where 40 yards is on the ground.
There are variables that will work for you and against you, your job is to pay attention to changes in terrain, lighting and anything that can throw you off the game. Bright lighting makes targets/ground look closer, while dark tunnels make them look farther away. Small targets may look a little further than large targets which sound simple enough but you need to factor that into every archery target you look at.
You don’t need a range at your house to get good at any of this. You just need to go to shoots and use each target as practice. The minute you shoot, step away from the target and take just 30 seconds to stare at the target. Look at the thickness of the body, the distance between the legs. Tap it with a range finder and now you have seen that target at that distance. The more you do this, the better you will become at field judging your archery targets. Start paying attention and you’ll see how quickly you’ll improve.
Yardage judging is like shooting 60X’s, it’s a challenge to learn, but so very rewarding when you get the hang of it.