Long Range Archery - Lloyd Kimmen

As the last bit of light was fading that evening that time I like to call the “Witching Hour “, the last ½ hour or so before it gets dark,  he stepped out into the soybean field.

“He” being a large 8 pointer I had hunted for a couple of  years now , the only problem was ,instead of walking down the trail from the wood to the field edge, as all the other deer had done ½ hour ago, as I had watched him do a few times, he instead came out 40 yards south of my stand on the edge of the field, slowly testing the air and scanning the field , he stood there partially screened by brush for perhaps 15 minutes , then satisfied all was well , as there were 7 other does , and a couple of small 6 pointers already out in the field, he slowly started towards them , the problem was he was angling away , I quickly ranged him , just to confirm the yardage I had in my head, 49 yards , I thought to my self quickly, normally I would have just snuck out of there , convinced I would get him another day ,but it was November the 12th only a couple of days from the Michigan Firearm season, and who knows if he makes it through another 2 weeks ?? But let me back up to early summer, you see I had prepared myself all summer practicing long range shooting ,even as far as 100 yards.

 Now I know what your going say, “This guy is crazy, right?”But let me explain, although I would never attempt or condone taking a shot at a whitetail deer or a turkey at 70 plus yards, what I want to show you is that you can gain accuracy and consistency by regularly practicing at long range. And when that buck of a life time steps out at 30 yards, that shot will seem like a piece of cake!!

Today’s archery equipment , like the bow I currently shoot , the new Mathews DXT , shoots very fast and extremely accurate ,making a 100 yard bow shot which just a few years ago would seem impossible, almost routine! I started practicing this way a long time ago, quite be accident, I was walking back from a morning bow hunt , as I was crossing this big hay field that had been recently mowed, the farmer had all of these big rolled hay bales scattered throughout the field, I started thinking, I wonder how far I can actually hit one of those bales , I stepped off first 60 yards, nocked an arrow , came full draw , settled my 40 yard pin about 3 1/2 feet above the center of the bail , let the string roll off my fingers. What a beautiful sight, the arrow arching skyward the sun glistening off the aluminum 2219 shaft , then falling into the center of the bail .

This was back when the bows only shot about 230 feet per second; I still shot with my fingers, big heavy 2219 aluminum arrows. I started backing up farther and farther seeing how far I could shoot. It was those beautiful sunny October mornings; I must have shot 100 arrows that morning, some at over 100 yards. But what I found was that I had to concentrate so hard on aiming and holding my form , and following through , that I started shooting a lot better overall, my 20 yard shots started to get grouped so tightly , I was actually ruining arrows as they hit each other in the bulls eye. I still practice this way today.

 The bow I use currently is the new Mathews DXT set just a tad over 70 lbs; arrow speed is well over 320 feet per second

I use a Winn free release which I absolutely love!!

I shoot Carbon Force 200 arrows, with 3” true flight feathers, with helical fletching.

I fletch all my own arrows, and I number and pre-shoot them all, and if I find that one or two are not hitting the bull’s-eye consistently, I’ll strip the fletching and refletch them, and shoot them again, and if either of them still don’t fly properly, I set them aside for my grandson Jax to use in the future when he is old enough to shoot a bow. I have a theory on why this happens, although just a theory as of right now. I think some of the reason has to do with balance, not front to rear balance, but rotating balance, F.O.C. (Forward Of Center Balance point)

We will use a 30” over all length arrow for reference. So the first thing we do is measure off 15” from the nock end, which would be the exact center of the overall length of the arrow, now that we have that as a reference point, you will need either a small ½ diameter dowel, or what I use, is one of those triangle shaped wooden 12” rulers, for wood working.I use a file and cut a small V- shaped groove in the middle of the 12 inch triangular ruler , this ill prevent the arrow from rolling off the ruler.

 What I do is lay the ruler on a nice level surface, so that the pointed edge with the groove is up, and I then slide the arrow back and forth until it is balanced perfectly on the ruler’s edge. I then mark this spot, which should be approximately 3” forward of the 15 “ reference mark, this will get you in the 10% F.O.C.  Range, which means the arrow has approximately 10 % of it’s weight on the tip of the arrow. There is no magic number, but 7-15% seems to work. If your less than 7 % , the arrow will start to fly erratically, as it doesn’t have enough weight forward to keep it flying true , and if  the balance point is toward the nock end, your arrow will actually try to swap ends and hit nock first!!!

Now if you have say too much weight forward , you will lose trajectory, as the arrow , instead of flying nice and level will have a tendency to nose down as it is flying , causing  it to shoot low, which is undesirable, so start at 10 % F.O.C. even though I have checked each arrow , I still sometimes have 1 or 2 no matter what I do they just don’t impact with the rest of my arrows,  my theory is that it’s a rotating balance thing, being involve with race cars , and Tool and Die trade for my whole life I understand a shaft being “out of balance “, as a arrow when it flies through the air rotates the same as a crankshaft in a race motor , and if either are “out of balance” it has a tendency to wobble or vibrate , both of which can hurt performance, that’s why I only use feathers when fletching my arrows , as they are lighter than vanes , and less likely to cause a problem, as applying the same amount of glue to each fletch, and wiping off the excess probably helps also, as we speak, I am working on a simple device to check the rotating balance of arrows, keep checking my website,  www.becomeabetterhunter.com.

All the new carbon arrows are pretty consistent, and very straight, but you may occasionally find what I term a “Flyer”.

The equipment I use is:

Mathews DXT set just a tad over 70 lbs; arrow speed is well over 320 feet per second

I use a Winn free release which I absolutely love!!

I shoot Carbon Force Radial X Weave 200 arrows, 29” long, with 3” True Flight feathers, with helical fletching, 75 grain tips

My sight is a vertical 4 pin sight, set for hunting at 20, 30 40, 50 yards , but in the summer I set the pins for 50,60, 70 ,80 yards , I can routinely hit a 8”paper plate at 50 yards, an average o 9 out of 10 times. But what I did notice is it gets increasingly harder to shoot with anything more than a gently breeze of say, 5 MPH or less, as not only is the arrow flight affected by the wind , but your bow is harder to keep rock solid on the target, causing accuracy issues as well

Back to the beginning of this story, it’s November 12th, as it was dead calm, and I had heavily bodied 9 pointer feeding calmly right at 50 yards, I decided to take the shot, as I figured my odds were probably right around 90 % of cleanly taking him through both lungs, I drew back, and calmly put the 50 yard pin right behind the front leg, mid body, slowly squeezing the trigger of my  Stainless Steel Winn Free wrist release. When the release tripped as clean as the finest rifle trigger, the arrow was away, streaking toward the buck, what a beautiful sight as the arrow equipped with the Burt Coyote Lumenok lit up , making it easy to see the arrow flight all the way to the buck and watch the  arrow impact exactly where it was aimed, the buck kicked up his back legs , tore off back into the woodlot he had just came out of, I smiled, and looked skyward, probably much the same as the early hunters did, let out a quiet “Yeah!”

I thought on the quad ride home in the dark, my female black Labrador retriever,”Maggie” which I use to track all my hit deer, would be so happy, even though this would be just a good training exercise, as the buck probably only made it 100 yards or so, and it will take her probably less than 3 minutes to find the buck, it keeps her trained and sharp, and enthusiastic, for a future difficult tracking job.

So That’s my tip, challenge yourself, practice these long shots at the range, experiment with new equipment, see what works best for you , as any little error in form, arrow tuning, or follow through, is greatly amplified at these extreme distances , but you will notice at regular bow ranges of say 20-30 yards , your consistency and accuracy will increase dramatically,  all it takes is putting in some time on the range ,so practice hard ,push your limits,  do some weight training and jogging ,so you can walk farther , pull more bow weight ,hunt longer and harder”.

 You will not only be more successful, but you will ………
“Become a Better Hunter