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Long Distance Archery in Windy Conditions - Experimentation and Tips

Yesterday I conducted an archery experiment.

The situation was the wind was gusting 30 to 40 kmph and I decided I wanted to see just how much the wind would effect arrows shot long distances during such windy conditions.

And to make the experiment doubly interesting, I used a very low poundage bow (only 18 lbs) to conduct the experiment.

What I determined was that I could easily shoot clusters of arrows at 50 yards (150 feet) or 60 yards (180 feet), but when it got to 70 yards (210 feet) I was doing well just to hit the target.

Note - In order to get the arrows to go out that far and hit the target I was aiming above the target. At 50 yards I was aiming approx. 3 feet above the target. At 60 yards it was about 15 feet above the target, and at 70 yards I was aiming about 35 feet above the target.

Normally when I shoot at longer distances like that I would be packing a heavier poundage bow (somewhere in the 30 to 45 lb range) just so I get way more power and accuracy, but that would have defeated the purpose of my experiment - which was to determine how much wind conditions effected arrows shot from a low poundage bow.

So now my goal is to do this again later in the coming month (when wind conditions are forecast to be in the 20 to 25 kmph range) and repeat the experiment.

And on a later date, when wind conditions are almost null, repeat the 3rd stage of the experiment to see how much more accuracy an 18 lb recurve bow gets when there is almost no wind whatsoever to mess with the arrow's trajectory.

So yes, I will need to update this posting later. Possibly with additional tips.

So here are my tips so far...

#1. Bring binoculars so you can see where your arrows hit way out there. Helps to adjust your aim if you know where your arrows hit exactly (as opposed to just guessing based on where you think they hit).

#2. Don't even bother shooting long distances until you can shoot tight clusters at 20 yards and 30 yards. You should not even be at 30 yards until you can competently hit 20 yards with tight clusters.

#3. Remember that you will need to be adjusting your aim upwards exponentially the further out the target gets. In some cases you won't even see the target any more as you may be aiming at trees or clouds above the target.

#4. Don't progress to the next furthest target until you can competently hit clusters on your current target.

#5. Don't go beyond the limits of your bow's range. You can test your bow's range by aiming a shot upwards at a 45 degree angle and watch where it comes down. On an 18 lb recurve bow (using arrows with 125 grain arrowheads) this distance for me is approx. 75-80 yards. That means that even if I wanted to shoot at 90 yards, the arrows wouldn't be able to reach 90 yards. I would need to use a more powerful bow.

#6. Experiment with different poundages of bows to see which one will give you more accuracy. eg. My ideal draw weight is somewhere between 32 and 45 lbs, depending on how tired I am and how well I slept the night before (I find I can shoot significantly better on a day on which I know I am well rested and am feeling up to pulling a higher poundage).

#7. If you have a compound bow front sight and a peep sight this will give you a distinctive advantage when it comes to long distance shooting - but it really takes a lot of the fun out of it.

#8. Form wise do everything as you normally would when shooting at shorter distances. Your form, the quality of your release, the precision of your aim should all remain the same level of quality. (Or better than your average, as you will be under mental pressure to excel beyond your normal mediocrity.)

#9. Don't bother shooting long distances if you are feeling physically unwell or mentally distracted. You need to be having "a good day" before you shoot at longer distances. Shooting while sick or when having a bad day will doubtlessly lead to lots of lost arrows.

#10. Aim for clusters on the target at the beginning, then try to center those clusters during the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

#11. Remember clearly where you are aiming at the target. Remember where every single shot was aimed and where it landed. If possible, label each arrow and fire them in a specific order and then record where each landed. This will give you a clearly picture of which spots you were aiming at and whether it succeeded at hitting near the center - or at forming a cluster if you fired multiple shots at the same location.

#12. Don't use really expensive arrows that you are attached to. I used the cheapest arrows I own ($6.99 arrows from Tent City in North York) and I didn't lose a single one. But just because I kept hitting the target and had no problem finding my arrows doesn't mean you couldn't easily make a mistake and lose yours. So don't risk your high quality arrows unless you are absolutely certain of your ability to hit the target.

Conclusions so far...

Honestly, I could tell during the gusts that the arrow was being effected more by the wind. You could see the arrow wavering as it flew through the air during gusting and it would typically land to the side or fall short of the target if that happened.

Later today I shall repeat the experiment and look for changes. Since wind conditions will be 10 to 20 kmph slower later today I should see a marked increase in arrow clustering.

If I time shots to be fired in-between any gusts of wind at my altitude maybe I can even avoid the averse conditions more - assuming that the arrows while they are flying high in the air and myself are being effected by the same lulls in the wind gusting, despite the altitude distance.

I don't expect to be splitting any arrows during long distance shots, but clustering in the middle is certainly possible given the right conditions. And with practice at adjusting for wind conditions, perhaps even possible with a little luck.

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