Bow hunting has been an age-old practice, a skill passed down through generations. With modern advancements in equipment and techniques, the experience of bow hunting has evolved. One of the most significant advancements in the world of hunting is the utilization of tree stands. But a question that often pops up among beginners is, can you shoot a bow from a tree stand?
You can definitely shoot a bow from a tree stand. In fact, I recommend it. It greatly improves your accuracy and the chances of taking your quarry, though there are some caveats to be aware of.
Let’s dive into the details.
Why Does a Tree Stand Help Accuracy?
Before I started hunting with my recurve, I spent several weeks practicing at my local range. Finally hitting the bullseye was… hard. But then I set up my climbing tree stand in my backyard and tried again. Suddenly it was much easier to hit the target, and from farther away.
I discovered that the reasons were scientific.
Working With Gravity
The main reason shooting from a tree stand is more accurate is that you’re shooting downwards, using gravity to your advantage. When you shoot across flat ground, gravity immediately starts pulling the arrow towards the ground and slowing it down. Therefore, the arrow doesn’t travel in a straight line, making your aim more complicated.
When you shoot from a tree stand, you can aim closer to a straight line (though not perfectly), and you have to worry less about reduced velocity.
Since shooting with gravity maintains arrow velocity, you have a lot more range when shooting from a tree stand. Plus, you can simply see farther away, meaning aiming at distant quarries is much easier.
Challenges to Shooting From a Tree Stand
Overall, shooting from a tree stand has more pros than cons. That said, there are some difficulties, and you have to know how to address them.
Tree stands usually have limited space, especially mobile models like climbing and hang-on tree stands. But drawing a bow requires large arm movements as well as planting your feet firmly and adequately spaced apart.
Consider that at 6’3″, my draw length is over 30 inches, nearly three feet. I need at least that much room to comfortably draw and aim my bow.
Balance and Safety
Tree stands are one of the biggest sources of hunter accidents: nearly 3,000 each year. While bows don’t have the recoil of rifles, they still produce enough force to throw you off balance if you aren’t practicing proper form. In a tight tree stand, that could cause a fall.
This further emphasizes the need for a tree stand with a platform large and stable enough that you can properly plant your feet and follow through with a well-placed archery shot. It also shows the importance of tree-stand safety measures like harnesses and lines.
Because you’re shooting with gravity, shooting from a tree stand means aiming differently than over the ground. Basically, you’ll aim higher and closer to the quarry’s kill zone.
However, if you have a sight that you’ve calibrated for flat ground, then you should aim lower. Why? The sight is going to tell you to raise the bow much more to compensate for drop. But since there’s less drop shooting from an elevated position, you don’t need to raise the bow as much.
How to Shoot a Bow From a Tree Stand
- Choose the right tree stand: Pick a tree stand with a platform large enough to firmly plant your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Install your tree stand: Regardless of the type of tree stand you’re using, make sure it’s securely attached to the tree and doesn’t bounce or wobble when you draw.
- Use proper safety equipment: Before shooting, double-check that your harness is on correctly and secured to the tree via the safety line.
- Determine foot placement: Before you ever have to take a shot, determine where you’ll put your feet when shooting at different angles.
- Draw with proper form: Draw your bow with correct archery form, placing your feet shoulder-width apart without locking your knees, holding the riser straight out and pulling the arrow nock to your anchor point.
- Take aim: Aim based on the target’s distance and the settings of your sight.
- Release and follow through: When you release the arrow, do not drop your arms immediately. Anticipate the bow pulling you slightly forward. Using relaxed but firm legs, absorb this energy and maintain your balance until the energy has dissipated. Then you can lower the bow.
Elevate Your Hunt
Shooting a bow from a tree stand can be a game-changer for many hunters, providing an advantage in sight, scent, and shot placement. Like all hunting techniques, it requires understanding, respect for safety, and lots of practice. So, get out there, practice your shots, and happy hunting!
There’s a reason most bowhunters hunt from tree stands. To read the full guide, click here.
Christian grew up in the Ozarks where he spent much of his childhood on his grandparents’ homestead learning about guns, hunting, and the great outdoors.
An avid traditional bowhunter, much of his writing covers this and other similar topics, but he also covers just about everything from history and economics to motorcycles.
See more of his work at ChristianMonson.com.