Patrick Meitin has degrees in journalism and range and wildlife management. He’s been an outdoor writer, specializing in bowhunting, for more than 20 years. An expert with both traditional and modern archery equipment, Meitin lives in northern Idaho with his wife, Gwyn, and their two Labrador retrievers.
Shooting Arrows In The Wind
Shooting In The Wind
Shooting bows in the wind is a tough assignment. There are simply too many variables, making solid rules difficult to offer for any given situation. Variable wind and arrow velocity, attack angle and shot distance, arrow/fletching dimensions and finished mass, along with ebbs and gusts along the arrow's entire path affect resulting drift and impact.
This also makes steadying your bow while aiming quite challenging. Any bow provides plenty of buffeting surfaces, but add a quiver of weathervane arrows, a longer stabilizer, and the situation is compounded. In a tree-stand situation, I've actually shot whitetails in nasty weather when wind rocked the entire tree and attached stand.
I've read occasional columns advising readers to practice shooting in wind to become better acquainted, but this should be approached with great caution. Shooting in the wind is a good way to introduce bad habits into your shooting routine -- snatching at the release trigger as pins sweep across the target instead of squeezing off the shot, gripping the bow aggressively instead of cradling it losely, jerking pins onto target instead of allowing them to float, to name but a few. If you want to aggrevate a creeping case of target panic, you'll find no better avenue than shooting when it's windy.
This isn't to say you shouldn't shoot in the wind at all, because you should, if only to instill an important reality check. I once shot a Booner Quebec caribou at 40 yards, broadside in a stiff breeze. I aimed at his hip to hit him behind the shoulder. Another time, shooting my biggest muley buck to date on a wind-whipped Eastern Colorado afternoon, I tried the same hold. My arrow drifted left into his neck. I got lucky and severed an artery.
Practicing in windy conditions should be approached with an eye toward maintaining solid shooting form. The best way I've found is to stand behind a sheltered house or picket-fence corner, taking advantage of the lee so equipment isn't pushed around while at full draw, but your arrow immediately subjected to wind after release. (Keep this in mind while bowhunting as well; kneeling/sitting behind cover to minimize your surface area while shielding equipment from buffeting wind). Take mental notes on how much drift is experienced at various ranges during various wind velocities (which really becomes subjective without a wind meter, like one offered by Brunton). If nothing else is gained you'll instill the notion that the harder wind blows, the shorter your maimum effective range becomes.
If you find yourself bowhunting in wind often a few basic precautions help minimize its effects. First, remove your bow quiver and use a back quiver. Second, use the thinnest arrows possible (Victory VAP or Easton Injexion, as examples) and mechanical or "mini" fied-blade broadheads to reduce surface area. Finally, stabilizers with open "cage" (Doinker Multi-Rod or Trophy Ridge Static) or flat design features (FUSE Carbon Blade) minimize surface area and wind movement.