Tips & Tactics

Shooting Angles Made Easy

Shooting Angles Made Easy

By Joshua Clifton

I was reintroduced to archery about five years ago, and since then I’ve learned a lot about the sport, but not without some difficulties with proper shot placement.

Early on, I had several opportunities to harvest a deer; however, the anatomy of a white-tailed deer was a mystery.

If I aimed behind the shoulder, as is standard, sometimes the angle of the deer’s body made that spot an undesirable arrow placement. Where were its lungs when it was facing me? Or the heart if the deer was quartering away?

Add to the equation shooting downward from a treestand, and I was really unsure where to aim.

One day, I mentioned these issues to my brother-in-law, Denny Snow, who is an experienced bowhunter.

Shooting Angles Made EasyDenny told me to simply aim where I wanted the arrow to exit.  I thought this was a simple and brilliant solution! 

From that moment on, I began to think of the deer as a 3-dimensional target filled with organs. If I aimed at the exit point, proper shot placement took care of itself.

This visualization has allowed me to make better shot placements and harvest my trophies with greater efficiency.  

–Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin

I’d like to add a few helpful observations to Josh’s tip.

Think of the vital area — the heart and lungs — as a balloon within the chest of your deer. Try to pop that balloon.

This is your target, no matter the deer’s angle.

If the deer is quartering steeply away (a very desirable angle), you might have to aim behind the last rib or just in front of the hip to pop the balloon you are visualizing.

If the deer is facing you (NOT the most desirable angle), you might have to aim between the brisket and front shoulder to pop the balloon without your arrow contacting the big scapula (shoulder) bone.

But first, you have to know where the balloon is located.

Shooting Angles Made EasyI know many professional hunters who study “The Perfect Shot” by Craig Boddington. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, even for seasoned hunters.

This illustrated guide includes several species of North American game, so besides studying before whitetail hunts, I also utilized this book for shot placement before traveling to hunt elk and black bear.

When I went bowhunting in Africa, I purchased the mini edition for Africa. It was a lifesaver, because the vital area in most African game is located lower and much farther forward than North American animals.

The photos with cutaway illustrations depicting each animal’s anatomy, along with recommendations for shot placements at multiple angles, are easy to comprehend.

Three editions of this book are available through Buckmasters Online Bookstore. I love the Mini Editions, which slip into a backpack for field reference.

The Perfect Shot - North America

The Perfect Shot - Mini Edition for North America

The Perfect Shot - Mini Edition for North America II

Editor’s Note: If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!

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Gut Shot Prevention: Even with a high-powered rifle, a heart shot can quickly turn into a gut shot when shooting at a moving target.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd