There is one thing about shooting traditional archery: You can never have too much practice! The realism of 3D targets gives archers the “close as it gets” energized practice a bowhunter needs! Most 3D courses offer shots from long range, short range, and everything in between, to shots through trees, over brush, and in open fields. These are the shots we as traditional archers and bowhunters need to practice every day. Traditional archery is not something you can just put on the shelf and take down on a whim and still be effective. Traditional archery is something you live.
When I was in the Coast Guard, training was a daily event, and how we trained was emphasized. The instructors always said, “You will always perform like you trained.” So we trained right and ran through every situation we could imagine. 3D is the "every situation training" for the traditional bowhunter.
3D archery shoots give Trad bowhunters the opportunity to hone their skills and effectively build the necessary components that will help them be successful in hunting. First and foremost, hand-eye coordination and muscle memory is the foundation to being accurate, and this comes with practice; A lot of practice! Knowing how your gear will react in different shot situations is key, and knowing how shots will place with different body positions is also a must. But one of the biggest lessons a 3D course will teach you is what your effective range is in a real-life hunting shot! If you are shooting from the “bowhunter” stake (typically for compound shooters) and if you find you're spending more time looking for arrows than it took to grow your cedar arrows, you may need to rethink your shooting distance. 3D courses give you the training you can’t get in the backyard shooting into bales or bag targets. They allow you to move into your effective range and start making those shots into the kill zone.
It seems like there's a local archery club or 3D weekend competition around every corner. If you are interested in shooting a 3D course, get hooked up with a local archery pro-shop and ask for a schedule, and likely they will get you hooked up and headed into the right direction. Most states have bowhunting organizations on a larger scale with a main focus on building and educating new archers. These organizations would also be a great place to start looking, and most have a calendar of shooting events.
Shoot straight and be safe… and I’ll see you on the 3D range!