Dealing With Elevation While Shooting

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Long ago, the belief was that if you shot uphill your bullet would shoot high and if you shot downhill, it would hit low. Not sure how that myth originated, but the reality, gravity exerts its greatest influence over the trajectory of a bullet when it is shot across a level area as the gravity is pulling equally at the bullet along the entire length of its travel. Shooting uphill or downhill, that effect is lessened, thus when shooting uphill or downhill—it doesn’t matter—a bullet will hit higher. This is most commonly witnessed among bowhunters who practice almost exclusively shooting from the ground at targets and then when in a treestand during hunting season, overshoot a deer.

So at what point does a hunter need to consider and allow for the effects of shooting at angles? With the majority of game animals taken at less than 100 yards, not at all. Hold center of target and even at a fairly steep angle, your shot should hit center of mass. Out to 300 yards or less, unless the angle is steep, again, most hunters should be fine shooting center of the vital area.

Key points to remember when shooting at angles is regardless of whether you are shooting up or down, an angle of any particular degrees is an angle at any particular degrees. Shooting at a 45-degree angle up is the same as shooting at a 45-degree angle down—it’s still 45 degrees. And regardless of shooting up or down at a steep angle or over a long distance, you always compensate by aiming low.

While there are a number of ways to determine the proper range and aim when shooting at an angle—such as primitive charts that show the angle with relation to your bullet drop—a modern range finder is the best tool a hunter can use. It quickly and readily calculates the true distance to the target, taking the range of the target into consideration. Hit it a button and it gives you your range.

If you prefer to go old school, use the following widely utilized calculations upon determining the angle of your shot:

5 Degrees: Drop Inches x .004

10 Degrees: Drop Inches x .015

15 Degrees: Drop Inches x .034

20 Degrees: Drop Inches x .060

25 Degrees: Drop Inches x .094

30 Degrees: Drop Inches x .134

35 Degrees: Drop Inches x .181

40 Degrees: Drop Inches x .235

45 Degrees: Drop Inches x .293

50 Degrees: Drop Inches x .357

55 Degrees: Drop Inches x .426

60 Degrees: Drop Inches x .500

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