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Thread: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

  1. #1
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    Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    I thought this might be a good topic for discussion with all the archery harvests showing up on social media and as we enter rifle season.

    My own reason for bringing it up is from my first experience shooting at a deer with a compound bow. I believe DarekG might have had a similar experience. Anyway, I knew to anticipate the drop while shooting. There are dozens of slow motion videos on YouTube showing how deer generally react and that it is good to make sure the shot is low (but obviously still in the kill zone in case the deer does not react)

    In my case, which I am still not quite sure have to solve for if it is even possible. When I took the shot, the deer was completely in front of me and broadside to me. I aimed a bit lower than I normally would and just behind the shoulder.

    To my surprise. When I found the deer, the wound was not behind the shoulder. It entered in front of the shoulder. To add to that surprise, when we turned him over, the exit hole was quite far back (I'll dig up a picture later if I have time) ... Anyway, if it was much further back, things would have got rather messy. So magically (well not really) a direct broadside shot went as diagonally through the deer as it potentially could without intestinal involvement. There is really only one possibility for that to happen and it did not even register in the moment (I never saw this take place) and that is the deer reacted after the shot, not only by dropping (that was anticipated) but the deer would have had to have quartered far in toward me for that split second. I feel very lucky it did not hit the shoulder blade or poke through to the guts.

    I do not think it is possible to solve for that by shot placement. Though if anyone can think of a way I am interested. I suspect the only thing that would help is to increase the speed of the arrow. With a 26 inch draw and 47lb draw weight, my shots will be slower than many, one of the reasons for my 20 yard limit. I could probably squeeze in another inch on the draw length (though not very proper) would probably help the most. Draw weight I could probably go up to another 5-10lbs without much muscle training. Arrow weight might be another thing.

    Anyway here's a good video with rifle shot placement tips for various angles as well as bow shots and deer reactions. It starts out with rifle discussion and then around 10:25 it discusses bows and safely compensating for "the drop" (the common deer reaction to the thwap of a bow) Probably a lot of common sense to many but I was able to take away some good rifle tips from it. I figure hey, if a thread like this can collectively save some meat, put the animal down faster or prevent an animal from not being recovered it's worth tossing up. And hey, there might be better videos or tips up there so feel free to post them up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCsmTVAN0kA


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  3. #2
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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    I ALWAYS aim for where I want my arrow or bullet to hit. And I consider where it will exit. "Path should be through the vitals". This adresses angles and where to aim.

    I don't buy into trying to assume what an animal may or may not do after the arrow leaves to string or bullet leaves the barrel.

    I have however passed on shots where the deer knows Im there. Learned this the hard way early on in my bowhunting days through a bad experience. The ones where you get busted drawing or at full draw. Deer can do amazing things in a fraction of a second when they are on alert. Sometimes its best to pass.
    Last edited by Ron.C; 09-09-2020 at 11:05 AM.

  4. #3
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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron.C View Post
    I ALWAYS aim for where I want my arrow or bullet to hit. And I consider where it will exit. "Path should be through the vitals". This adresses angles and where to aim.
    The video has some good info on how to easily judge the path through the vitals on angles by following up the leg on the far side. Still might be common sense to many, but others might just guesstimate.

    I don't buy into trying to assume what an animal may or may not do after the arrow leaves to string or bullet leaves the barrel.

    I have however passed on shots where the deer knows Im there. Learned this the hard way early on in my bowhunting days through a bad experience. The ones where you get busted drawing or at full draw. Deer can do amazing things in a fraction of a second when they are on alert. Sometimes its best to pass.
    Interesting. From your experience, do you find that deer that don't know you are there generally do not react to the "THWAP" of the bow? I figured that sound would be startling in general regardless and could cause the drop reaction. Aiming lower for the lower lungs seems like the best thing to do just in case. That way if it drops 8 inches, it's still a good kill shot either way. That said, I am new to bow hunting (rifles I just aim where I want the bullet to go) so I do appreciate a variety of input rather than just what is popular on Youtube

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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    On unsuspecting deer, Ive had deer stand there motionless and others react with a slight drop or head turn at best, but nothing warranting aiming low.

    In the case of 2 very memorable animals that knew something was up , one dropped on the shot, the other turned away hard the second I loosed the arrow. Both resulted in kills but were bad hits. I got lucky on both and am not proud of the way those hunts went. Aiming low may have helped on one but would have made it worse on the other. I say may because this deer dropped very low on about a 28 yard shot. I spined him. I would of had to aim at least 3 inches under his chest to have put that arrow through the top of his heart. This deer caught me at full draw and starred me down. I should have passed on both these shots.

    When oblivious to my presence, never had an animal move enough once the shot is released to result in the arrow missing the vitals.

    Nothing that I have seen would lead me to believe compensating by aiming low will increase my odds of a good hit.
    Last edited by Ron.C; 09-09-2020 at 12:10 PM.

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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    I don't have much input, because as you said we had the same experience.

    My bow is at 55Lbs as that is the lowest it can go, I was thinking of getting it adjusted to 65Lbs after a few more months of practice and after this season. During my research on "Jumping the string" I found this video, crazy how fast deer can react even when not alert. The shot at 1:30 even deflects off of a deer..

    ...

  7. #6
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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Number one, just because it looks like he's standing broadside doesn't mean that he's actually perfectly broadside. He could be angled just slightly, just enough that your projectile (bullet or arrow) doesn't go through exactly where you thought it might.
    Number two, projectiles rarely goes "straight" through the animal. It can ricochet off a bone, get channeled by the grain of the muscles and eng up going a completely different direction. Remember the JFK magic bullet. Bullet changed direction 3 times going through 2 people and a seat.

  8. #7
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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron.C View Post
    On unsuspecting deer, Ive had deer stand there motionless and others react with a slight drop or head turn at best, but nothing warranting aiming low.

    In the case of 2 very memorable animals that knew something was up , one dropped on the shot, the other turned away hard the second I loosed the arrow. Both resulted in kills but were bad hits. I got lucky on both and am not proud of the way those hunts went. Aiming low may have helped on one but would have made it worse on the other. I say may because this deer dropped very low on about a 28 yard shot. I spined him. I would of had to aim at least 3 inches under his chest to have put that arrow through the top of his heart. This deer caught me at full draw and starred me down. I should have passed on both these shots.

    When oblivious to my presence, never had an animal move enough once the shot is released to result in the arrow missing the vitals.

    Nothing that I have seen would lead me to believe compensating by aiming low will increase my odds of a good hit.
    Really good insight and much appreciated.

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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Quote Originally Posted by DarekG View Post
    I don't have much input, because as you said we had the same experience.

    My bow is at 55Lbs as that is the lowest it can go, I was thinking of getting it adjusted to 65Lbs after a few more months of practice and after this season. During my research on "Jumping the string" I found this video, crazy how fast deer can react even when not alert. The shot at 1:30 even deflects off of a deer..

    Wow that is pretty insane. Those deer did not seem on alert either based on body language alone, but I have no way to know for certain. They also might be collectively conditioned to jump at the noise just based on hunting pressure and previous encounters with bow hunters.

    I thought the part at the end seemed a bit off when they blamed the bow. The bow seems to be doing it's part.

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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigdoggdon View Post
    Number one, just because it looks like he's standing broadside doesn't mean that he's actually perfectly broadside. He could be angled just slightly, just enough that your projectile (bullet or arrow) doesn't go through exactly where you thought it might.
    Number two, projectiles rarely goes "straight" through the animal. It can ricochet off a bone, get channeled by the grain of the muscles and eng up going a completely different direction. Remember the JFK magic bullet. Bullet changed direction 3 times going through 2 people and a seat.
    That is certainly a possibility too. I have seen how arrows much arrows can deflect and bounce around when I am pushing my distance limits and skip it off the block target. Good point!

  11. #10
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    Re: Aiming for the drop (bow) and where to aim (rifles and bows)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigdoggdon View Post
    Number two, projectiles rarely goes "straight" through the animal. It can ricochet off a bone, get channeled by the grain of the muscles and eng up going a completely different direction. Remember the JFK magic bullet. Bullet changed direction 3 times going through 2 people and a seat.
    Interesting, when I got my deer the other day... I spent 20 minutes looking for my arrow afterwards, gave up. The shot was at 30 yards with 55Lb draw weight - When I was processing the deer and looking for its heart I found this instead.

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