Bowhunting: Appropriate Distance for Ethical Shots

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Isn’t it true that, as bowhunters, we carry two responsibilities in our quiver: one to respect the game we pursue and the other to ensure the rapid, humane dispatch of our quarry?

We’ve found that the key lies not just in understanding our equipment, but also in recognizing our own individual limitations and abilities.

This goes beyond just skill or following the rules of hunting; it’s about the ethical backbone that connects us all in our passion for bowhunting.

Are you ready to embark on this journey with us?

Understanding Your Effective Range

Knowing your effective range is a pivotal aspect of ethical hunting.

This involves not just your confidence in shot placement and equipment capabilities, but also the impact of weather conditions, terrain variations, and unpredictable animal behavior.

Understanding your effective range requires honesty, self-reflection, and an unwavering commitment to ethical shots.

It’s not simply about hitting the target but ensuring a quick, humane kill.

In bow hunting, the ideal shooting distance isn’t a one-size-fits-all number.

It varies considerably depending on several factors, including personal skills and the specific circumstances of the hunt.

Our effective range should consider the welfare of the animal and show respect for the game being hunted.

It’s a balance between shot accuracy, energy loss at longer distances, and the unpredictability of the game.

Ethics of Long-Distance Shots

When you shoot an arrow from a modern compound bow, it zips through the air at a speed close to 200 miles per hour.

Yet, even at this remarkable speed, covering a distance of 100 yards isn’t instantaneous – it takes roughly a full second.

In the wild, that’s ample time for an animal to shift position by several feet or even change its orientation completely.

From the moment your mind signals to release the arrow to the moment it reaches its target, a lot can change in the animal’s stance.

It´s out of your control – it´s a gamble – it’s unethical

Now let´s talk about kinetic energy. Shooting 100 yards, unless your setup is already at 90 ft-lbs. will definitely hurt penetration potential.

Preparation and Shot Timing

a Bowhunter with binoculars

Preparation involves a rigorous regimen of practice using your bow (and crossbow). This includes sight-in using the broadheads intended for hunting.

Equipment should be properly matched and tuned for accurate arrows.

I advocate for practice in various weather conditions and terrains, which can differ significantly from controlled environments.

I also suggest practicing from ranges longer than intended for hunting, to build confidence and precision.

Evolution of Archery Equipment

The evolution of archery equipment has been transformative, with the introduction of rangefinders, which have made us lethal at longer distances and have broken traditional yardage boundaries.

Josh Boyd fixing ibow with a set of allen wrenches

This improved equipment has indeed simplified long-range shooting and instilled unwarranted confidence in some of us, promoting unrealistic expectations.

Yes, the vertical bow in our hands today is a product of constant innovation, making it easier to hit targets at longer distances.

Are we pushing the boundaries of ethical hunting?

Are we prioritizing convenience over respect for the game?

Instead of relying solely on technology and long-range shots, we should focus on enhancing our skills and getting closer to animals.

Before you go..

Determining our ethical shooting distance is a multifaceted challenge, requiring careful consideration of our confidence in shot placement, the capabilities of our equipment, and the behavior of the animal in question.

For bowhunting, the appropriate distance for ethical shots is pivotal.

It’s not just about whether we can hit the target, but whether we can do so in a way that ensures a swift, humane kill.

We mustn’t ignore the limitations of long-distance bow shooting.

Even if we’re equipped with high-end gear. Factors such as animal movement and wind can turn a seemingly perfect shot into an unethical one.

We should all be honest in assessing our skills and realistic about the conditions under which we’re shooting.

Happy hunting!


Hi, I am Darren, a seasoned bow hunting enthusiast with more than three decades of experience in the field. I wrote this post to share my insights and knowledge with all of you. I proudly hold the role of senior editor on this platform, actively and consistently delivering my contributions. If you ever have any questions or wish to engage in discussions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

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