Outdoor TV personalities and hunting influencers regularly take long-distance shots on whitetail, elk, and other species. They glorify 100-yard-plus kills and chalk them up to their incredible skills. But you can bet even more footage ends up on the cutting room floor because the buck moved or the arrow deflected or a gust of wind blew through. Undoubtedly, some of these extreme shots end in clean misses or worse — wounded animals.
Just because you can take a shot, doesn’t mean you should.
When hunting with a bow or crossbow, there are several factors we simply can’t account for. Everything would have to go exactly right for one of these long bombs to end in a quick kill. But it often doesn’t play out that way.
In the time it takes an arrow to travel 100 yards, any animal can move just enough for that perfectly placed shot to wind up in the gut or graze its back.
Beyond that, a breeze or the tiniest twig you can’t see from a football field away could send your arrow off course.
You can’t always plan for these variables, but you can count on arrows losing momentum and trajectory taking a nosedive at such long distances — making accurate ranging, precision shot placement, and perfect form absolutely essential to a high-probability hit. But still no guarantees.
These long-distance shots that push the boundaries of bowhunting alsonegate the major draw of archery — the challenge of getting in close.
So how far is too far?
There’s no one-size-fits-all maximum ethical shooting distance. Rig setup, skill level, size of quarry, conditions, and the terrain will influence your ability to accurately make a shot to the vitals.
But it’s certainly not 100 yards — and that goes for champion target archers and celebrity hunters too. Even if you consistently hit 10-rings in competitions, that target can’t move. And you don’t risk it suffering a slow, excruciating death with the slightest error.
Crossbow manufacturers may advertise accuracy up to 100 yards, and that’s great for firing at foam. But it’s just not an ethical distance for hunting.
Rather than gambling on high-risk shots, bowhunters should focus on accurate ranging, getting as close as possible, and taking only shots with the best odds. Determine your maximum effective range and practice beyond that but never exceed it in a hunting scenario. We owe it to the animals we hunt to stick to ethical shots within our effective range.