Question is how does your past experience affect your personal decision to take a long shot.
I have made one 70 yd, two 50 yd and multiple 40-45 yd shots on mule deer which were perfect or near perfect. As I have previously posted, I shot a buck this year off a steep cliff at 39.9 yd by angle corrected rangefinder (60 Yd line of sight) resulting in a gut shot as the buck jumped forward at the shot. Bad luck? Bad decision? What to do next time?
I'm going to say 60 : 40 bad luck, bad decision.
So the "I ranged the sheep at 30 yards down the cliff" easy shot may actually be line of sight 90 yards or more, depending how steep it is. If you're not accurate at 90 yards, that "30 yard shot" may not turn out so well...
The condition of the shot, as you call it, is huge too. My preferred distance is inside 15 yards. At that range, conditions don't have to be perfect. I can tuck an arrow into some bad angles, I can shoot a walking animal, they can be alert. As you move out the conditions have to be absolutely perfect for long range shots.
Finally, I do think it is fair to hold TV hunters to a higher standard as role models instead of just scummy product pitch men and women. Obviously it would take the sponsors prerogative to do that. An 88 yard shot is great advertising for that shooter's equipment, irregardless of the fact that he's a better shot that 95% of bowhunters out there. To me that reflects very poorly on the sponsors of that show, and I hope they realize that.
In a few ways.
1-Better optics [pins] on my sight
2- Better bow [no way could I shoot efficiently 60yds 15+ yrs ago]
3- Better mechanical release
I passed what would have been my biggest elk this past season because he was just a little out of my self-imposed limit. I practice out that far, but don't take shots on animals that far because they move. I may have taken that shot 5 years ago.
One thing I've noticed as well, is that the 15 yard shots are money. If I get drawn on an animal under 20, it's a slam dunk, so that's the shot I'm really out to get.
Like skipmaster1, I have learned to read an animals body language over the years which really dictates my shooting or not, the distance being secondary.
If an animal is feeding, I don't want to release in between steps. I want to release just after he took his last step, which usually means he will be there for a moment longer because he just stopped to chomp on something. If you hold and try to release several seconds after he last stepped, by the time you decide to release he might be moving for the next bite.
Friend of mine tried to shoot a very wired buck that had him pegged on a dead still evening at 30 yds. As he was describing the situation, I was thinking I would not have tried that shot. He did try that shot, the buck ducked and he hit him high and lost him. I have tried to push my luck in the past and it usually doesn't turn out well.
Animal body language is by far the most important factor, not how far I can shoot.
I think type of animal impacts long shots - mule deer when comfortable are statues and will let you shoot multiple times. Whereas WTs for example are the most paranoid animals in NA. No way in the world would I ever take ultra long range shots at WT.
That said, history has taught me archery equipment is best at close range and you are flirting with lots of issues shooting long range. If I want to shoot past 50 I will use my ML and really long distance my rifle. I just don't think killing an animal at long distances with a bow is fun but don't begrudge anyone who wants to.
Lots of good stuff above and good topic!
Today's young bowhunters with videos, internet and magazines for learning tools emulate their heroes and role models like Lee and Levi and fling arrows at long distances with their modern bows, just hoping to get an arrow in there somewhere.
It does for me.
One of the reasons is he gun hunted a lot and just doesn't enjoy shooting game at long distances with his bow. He says, "That's not why I hunt with the hardest weapon to take a deer."
3 years ago I shot very well out to 80 yards. So I was willing to shoot to 70 then.
Cnelk brings up a good point. In the late 80’s / early 90:s when I started hunting I wouldn’t shoot past 30 yards. I just was too inconsistent past them yardage’s.
The first year I hunted Ne 07. I missed a big 10 point buck at 10 yards. Close shots have been my downfall on the 3D range. I think I get over confident and loose focus sometimes. I think that’s exactly what happened on that buck.
I know a few vegetables and rocks. Some guys just never seem to learn anything!
"A man has got to know his limitations". Dirty Harry
Some folks start out reckless and grow more cautious; some start out very conservative and discover that they have learned enough to know when they can stretch their limits.
I took a few fairly stupid shots early on, but I also yanked a shot or two into the dirt when I had a sudden attack of misgivings. In retrospect, I should have rolled with it on the latter and never should have contemplated the former.
But as I go along I’m getting better at judging how jumpy an animal is, and I’m better at longer ranges than I have been in quite a while.
So it’s a balance.
But I do wish that more folks would start cautiously and discover that most long shots WILL develop into shorter ones, given a chance.
Funny thing, too... the guys I’ve known who have killed the most deer all seem to prefer shots of 20 yards and in; and that is when using hot-rodded compounds. And it’s not because they don’t shoot well; it’s because it doesn’t matter how well you shoot. If the animal can move more than a couple inches while the arrow is airborne, you’re not going to hit what you aimed at unless the critter will hold still.
Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.
I used to shoot sporting clays a lot, like 3/4 tournaments a year and lots of practice in between. I got to be a low to mid nineties shooter. That's out of a hundred if you're not familiar. I had a Browning O/U that occasionally would not fire the second barrel. When that happened, my shooting went straight to hell. Even though it might not happen again for 200 targets, it was on my mind. I began to leave it at home and shoot my Beretta AL390 semi-auto and all was well. No history of malfunction with that !
This past year I made a perfect 60 yard shot on an antelope in late September. I felt pretty confident going into my elk hunt a week and a half later. The second day I blew a 34 yard chip shot on a bull, not due to nerves per se, but a group was walking through the lane and I barked to stop them. A cow was standing directly behind the bull and I had to wait until she moved. It threw off my concentration, as now I was more focused on her moving out of the way than making the shot. When she finally did move, I must have rushed my shot and hit him in the top of the back. I wasn't rattled as much as I was in disbelief I had just done that. 5 days later I had a great bull at 55 yards, on the edge of a 300 plus herd, in another high pressure situation. I wasted no time in drawing, putting my pin on him, and letting it go. Hit him about as perfect as it gets and he was dead on his feet when he slid down the hill.
This past season I shot an antelope at 60, a bull at 55, a whitetail buck at 40, and a doe at 48. I have confidence that based on past experiences I am able to make effective longer distance shots. However, confidence is not arrogance as I have been humbled enough to know that no matter how many consecutive good shots I make, the next one might not go well. I had to learn a long time ago not to let a blown shot throw me off too much, as now I view it as the exception rather than the rule. So to answer your question directly, yes, my past experience has certainly affected my personal decision to take a longer shot. In retrospect I wish I had honed my long distance skills much earlier as I would have an extra1 or 2 very nice animals on my wall. Long shots certainly aren't for everyone, but as in my previously mentioned story, close shots can go awry just as easily as longer shots.
As stated above distance is not the only determining factor but is easy to reference. In other words the easy answer is that if you don’t practice at a distance then don’t take shots at beyond distance. I used to to playing pool with guys that said that they got better when they were drunk. Likewise, you probably will not get better in that moment of truth when shooting at an animal. I turned down a 22 yard shot at the only 200 inch buck that I have ever seen from a stand. It was a chip shot al had to do was clear a couple of small branches that were not that close together but there was no way that I was going shoot and wound such a magnificent creature. I am certain that I could have made that shot but for me the risk was to great. I don’t know the equation for that decision but I never have regretted it. These are personal decisions and hindsight is always 20/20. The real history lesson is not whether we learn from the past but how we allow to impact on future shots. Some people learn impulse control and others not so much. I stand amazed at how Stan Potts looses his mind after every shot. I think really or WTH! I see numerous people condemning the 88 yard shot but then I see the same people saying that they have killed animals at 60 and seventy yards. A better question may be at what distance would max out a 3, 4, or 6 pin sight. I know that I gained significant confidence when I went to a slider sight. Even at distances like 42 or 37 yards. I am going to let Lee Make his shot selection and I will make mine and history will determine that.