Make the Shot: Steeply Angled Arrows

Executing a sharply angled shot is one of the toughest assignments in bowhunting. Here is how to ace it.

Make the Shot: Steeply Angled Arrows

Stay sharp on angled shots — and have a high level of confidence every time you climb into a stand — by taking a practice shot or two before each hunt when possible. (Photo by Tony J. Peterson)

Steeply angled shots are the bane of all archers. But rest assured, with some practice you can master these shots if you follow these guidelines.

FIND A SPOT

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a place to practice. In most areas there are walk-through 3-D courses that offer elevated shots allowing you to work on your acute angles.

Alternatively, you can hang a stand and shoot from there. If you choose this route, remember to wear your full-body fall-arrest harness and use a lifeline as gravity doesn’t take a break and you can’t fly—so don’t risk it.

THE SHOTS

What shots should you be practicing? The best answer is anything within range. Start close, within 10 yards or so, and make a mental list of what you need to do. The first thing is to use a rangefinder with a built-in inclinometer so you know exactly what distance to aim for.


This is important, because it tells you what pin to use and where to hold it for the true downhill shot distance, and it kicks off the steep-angle shot process. It’s step one, and it’s important.


Secondly, force yourself to bend at the waist to preserve proper upper body form. You’ve probably read this many times, but few remember when in the field. But, knowing that you should bend at the waist when a 130-incher is standing downhill at 18 yards is different than actually doing it. The best archers in the business practice often, allowing themselves to shift into a sort of “autopilot mode” in competition and while hunting. They do this because they understand they lose a bit of their mental edge from the pressure and adrenaline when they are in the field.

Find the best day and time to hunt in your zip code

You will too, and if you’ve practiced all summer long shooting at crazy angles and bending at the waist, you’ll probably do just that when a buck walks in. It’s no different than checking your bubble level during every shot. In practice, this is part of the process and is a great way to green-light your form. When a solid buck walks in, it’s much harder to remember to peek at your level but if you’ve got hundreds of shots in the rearview mirror, you’ll probably naturally hold your bow level. That type of muscle memory can happen with bending at the waist too, it just takes plenty of practice.

THE TARGETS

Most of us shoot more bag/block targets than 3-D targets for a couple of reasons. Primarily, bag or block-style targets are cheaper and more portable than deer targets.


There’s nothing wrong with shooting circles and diamonds, but if you want to get good at steep angles you’ll want at least one 3-D target.

MaketheShot
Practice often on a 3-D target from an elevated platform. If that platform is a treestand, use a fall-arrest system during the sessions.(Photo by Tony J. Peterson)

These life-like targets force you to think about the point of arrow impact and pass-through with each of your shots, which is what you’ll have to do in the field. It’s great to shoot a tight group on a bulls-eye, but a better real-world skill is the ability to shoot a tight group in a foam deer’s lungs at various angles.

Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine


I like to take my 3-D targets and move them into various positions from week to week to force myself to rethink my point of impact while I’m working on steep shots. This is the best way to get close to the real thing, and it’s something you can work on not only in the pre-season, but throughout the season.

In fact, the best way to stay sharp on angled shots and have a high level of confidence every time you climb into a stand is to take a practice shot or two before each hunt when possible. This is a small time commitment that will allow you to get in the right mindset before each journey into the woods. When coupled with the muscle-memory of countless steep practice shots, it ensures those once-per-season encounters end in short blood trails.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

Mustad

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how. Hunting How-To

Order Out of Chaos: Patterning Rutting Bucks

David Johnson

Can you pattern bucks during the rut? The answer is yes, and here's how.

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt. Whitetail

Field Skills: Closing the Deer Deal

Mark Chesnut - December 24, 2019

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt.

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant buck. Whitetail

Focus on Frozen Food for Winter Deer

Bob Robb - December 27, 2019

Winter is here. Focus on these frozen food sources to improve your chances of scoring a giant...

A shot commits you to finding the animal. Your success depends on how you read the hit and the track. Whitetail

Aim True, Track Smart: Harvest Recovery

Wayne van Zwoll - December 26, 2019

A shot commits you to finding the animal. Your success depends on how you read the hit and the...

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.