Tips & Tactics

Aim Small, Miss Small

Aim Small, Miss Small

By Tim H. Martin

Photo: The aim small, miss small philosophy helped Buckmasters’ Ken Piper take this Illinois dream buck — and countless others — with a single arrow.

When Buckmasters Executive Editor Ken Piper first started working with me nearly two decades ago, we shot our bows nearly every afternoon on a little range outside the office.

At first, we practiced with standard targets such as life-sized foam deer with printed vital areas, and block targets with fist-sized dots. But as we honed our skills, we needed something more challenging and began to use smaller targets.

One day, Ken stapled a Buckmasters business card to a block target and said, “Let’s see if we can hit that at 30 yards.”

Soon, hitting the card began to seem too easy. That’s when I upped our friendly competition. “Now, let’s see who can get closest to the buck’s eye in the Buckmasters logo,” I challenged.

We began to notice this intense focus made our groups tighter and misses smaller. If we couldn’t pull a three-arrow group from a target with one hand, it wasn’t a satisfactory group.

This practice carried over into the field, and our bowhunting success reflected it.

I’ve one-arrow-killed bucks in Illinois, Ohio and Alabama, an elk and seven species of animals in Africa without losing a single animal or needing a single follow up shot.

Ken had even greater success. With one arrow, he took a free-range Illinois buck scoring more than 200 inches, and too many other trophies in his career to count. His Land of Lincoln giant still stands as the largest bow buck taken by any member of Buckmasters’ team.

I love the old adage, aim small, miss small. Legendary golf instructor Harvey Penick coined the phrase back in the 1930s. American snipers have adopted it and use it as a mantra for better accuracy.

This means when you focus on a tiny spot, if you miss, your golf ball, arrow or bullet will be closer to the target than if you had aimed for a general area.

Pick a tuft of hair on the vital area of the next deer you shoot at, not the vital area in general. Whether your weapon is a bow or a firearm, if you miss that spot, your arrow or bullet will still be solidly in the kill zone.

Try incorporating aim small, miss small into your practice routine. You’ll save yourself a lot of misses and a lot of time tracking wounded animals.

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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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd