I look forward to summer for many reasons—fly fishing for trout and kayaking are paramount among them, as are bowfishing and frog shooting—but 3-D tournaments and tons of time on the range are perhaps the biggest parts of this anticipation.
Summertime tournaments allow me to test my skills against other shooters, spend quality time with the wife, swap bowhunting tales with friends and live in an all-archery bubble for a weekend. And of course it’s the off-season, so the range becomes like a second home.
Another benefit is that summer 3-D tournaments offer exceptional practice for coming bowhunts, shooting realistic targets in real-world settings and dealing with the stress of competition—even if it’s just to beat your buddy’s score. But first and foremost, 3-D shooting is about having fun, which means everybody at the range has to play by the same set of rules.
Good old-fashioned manners sometimes seem to be a thing of the past in today’s world, but I’d like to think bowhunters are a better cross-section of civilization. When it comes to range etiquette, a little common sense goes a long way. Here are a few tips to make sure everyone has a good day at the range.
<h2>Wait Your Turn</h2>First, it’s important to understand that some archers take range time more seriously than you do. You may be there simply to blow off steam, for instance, but others are there as intensely dedicated shooters. These kinds of dead-serious shooters are simply going to take more time perfecting and honing their craft. <p> They’ll study targets endlessly, draw and let down repeatedly, have assistants shading them with umbrellas and all kinds of other silly antics that drive most bowhunters batty. They’re just like the old folks driving 45 mph in a 65 mph zone—an unfortunate reality, but something we all have to deal with. <p> Becoming impatient, hurling snide remarks or stressing out are just as silly as laying on the horn and flipping senior citizens the bird. The only thing it really does is make you look like a jackass. <p> The same goes for large groups of shooters, or what I often call “family reunions.” Many clubs have rules regarding maximum group size (normally six), but what’s a family to do when every known relative wants to hit the range together? <p> Large groups take longer to shoot—especially when kids are involved—and there are usually a lot of lost arrows and “Easter egg hunts” that follow. I’ve been there, and I understand it can be frustrating. But take a deep breath, bite your tongue and drift off to your happy place. <p> As you would in golf, wait for an opportunity between targets to politely ask a slow group if you may play through and make the transition as smoothly and quickly as possible. Remember, courtesy goes both ways. If you’re one of those slow groups and see you’re holding up the show—especially if more than one group of shooters is waiting on you between targets—make sure you allow faster groups to pass on by.