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Monday, August 27, 2012

Accuracy Basics

Accuracy Basics
Some shooters are very focused on accuracy. Here is a checklist that might help your shooting results.
1 - The scope must be mounted correctly. One quick way to check your scope is to place a carpenter's level across the top of your limb pockets and orient the crossbow to a perfectly level position. Use gravity to help by tying a string with a weight from a tree limb about 20 yards out. Determine if your vertical crosshair is aligned "up and down" with the plumb bob hanging from the tree. (We have tied our cocking rope to a tree in camp when in a jam.) If not, loosen the scope rings and rotate the scope until you achieve perfect alignment. Your shots will move either left or right as range is increased if the scope is not 100% vertically correct. Naturally, hold your crossbow level when shooting. Target shooters will mount a leveling glass on their crossbow to ensure the bow is absolutely horizontal.
2. Pull your limbs back evenly. When cocking the crossbow, make an effort to pull both limbs back together using the cocking rope without twisting or loading one side of the crossbow more than the other. If you have left and right variance with the same arrow, the cocking procedure is suspect. If there is "up and down" variance with the same arrow, check to see if your scope or fasteners are loose in any way. 
3. Use a rangefinder. Until laser rangefinders made their way into the commercial hunting market about 15 years ago, archers had to visually estimate range or pace off distances in advance to shoot well. Today, for just slightly more than the cost of a full tank of gas, a laser rangefinder can be in the backpack. For crossbow hunters who are also rifle hunters, obtain a rangefinder with a rating for 1,000 yards and it should work perfectly well for both archery and firearm requirements.   
4. Know your crossbow ballistics. A crossbow is a system consisting of the crossbow, the scope and the selected arrow. We are often asked what is the best crossbow. The answer is one that you can cock easily without creating variance and have the confidence to hit your aim point regularly. For most hunters, this is our 185 lb or 200 lb crossbow. After the trigger is pulled, it is all about ballistics. Typically, the 200 lb Bravo Zulu will shoot the 6 aiming points in our scopes very precisely when using the supplied arrows with 100gr heads. (There are 4 crosshairs in the scope but the top and bottom posts provide 2 additional aim points.) It works out nicely for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. The Koda-Express works equally as well with a slight adjustment. For this 185 lb bow, typically sight in 3/4" high at 20 yards and the ballistics adhere to the scope reticles at 30, 40 and 50 yards with the last aim point coming in at just under 60 yards. Confidence goes up as yardage decreases for most hunters. There are less obstructions to deal with (trees, bushes, twigs) and fewer environmental effects (wind, sound, animal movement) so a 20 to 30 yard shot with a Kodabow should be a deer hanging in camp 100% of the time. That is providing you take your time, know your deer anatomy, and avoid a case of "buck fever." Remember when shooting uphill or downhill, your aiming point must be lowered vs. the normal flat, level surface that you might have used in practice. Study your angle/ballistic charts or use one of the compensating range finder devices that calculates angle adjustments. 
5. Shoot from a rest. Even the best rifle shooters avoid taking game without using a rest. Shooting sticks are the norm in Africa. Smart rifle hunters will find ground or external support to steady their aiming point. Crossbow hunters should do the same. For this hunter, the last three animals taken were from these positions: - Prone, - Sitting with knees as support, and again, Sitting with knees as support.  We love that sitting position! 
For tree stand hunters, consider using your rail or a monopod. 
6. Think about what you are doing. A good friend called one morning complaining about his crossbow. He said the crossbow shot fine last year but now he can't get the crossbow scope sighted in at all.  He pulled his bow out for the upcoming deer season and it was shooting way off. He said he required some major scope adjustments just to get on target at 20 yards but when he stepped back to 30 and 40 yards, it was no where close to the target (shooting very low) until he finally gave up in frustration. It seemed the more he shot, the worse it all became. We spoke for a few minutes until it became clear that the poor fellow started the morning off using the bottom 50 yard reticle at 20 yards. 
(He got mixed up should have been using the uppermost reticle.) Every adjustment he made after that was hopeless. After the few dozen clicks changing his former 50 yard aim point to 20 yards, when he stepped back to 30 yards, he was even further off because he was basically using his scope upside down. We had a few laughs. Take your time. Don't rush to judgement and if something isn't acting right, also consider that the shooter just might be the problem. Looking forward to a great season!  Another friend said, "Be early to rise and stay in the woods until last shooting light if you want to take the the big buck." Good advice..... My best, Chuck