I have bow hunted elk for about 22 years now. When they started making bows that fit my shorter draw, that had real cams that delivered (initially they just put really small round wheels on the same limbs to get shorter draw length), I quit the instinctive shooting and went all out with sights, peep, and release. Before all of the gear, my personal limit was 40, and I practised a ton.
With the full meal deal of equipment I always practised as far as my sights would allow. Sometimes out to as far as 100 yards, and felt confident on the known yardage targets. I then felt my personal limit was approaching 60 only because of the possibility of error in estimating yardage.
Two years ago I started packing my laser range finder that I use when shooting my rifle, and Oregon also raised the limit on let off percentage you could hunt with. Now I feel confident to shoot out to 80 yards with known yardage and the right presentation. I shot my NM bull at 55 yards this year, and the arrow passed through so fast I could barely tell it was a hit except for hearing it go through also. I watched the bull go about fifty yards and go down. I went and picked up the carbon shaft that is still in perfect condition. And I'm shooting a four year old Jennings G2 buckmaster, by far top of the line in the speed department. So much faster than anything I've ever hunted with though. I guess the down side to all the progression over the years for me, is relying on so many gadgets. The upside is my odds of bagging a 300+ class bull is exponentially better.
Consistent long range bowhunting requires a combination of way more talent and knowledge of the animals than any average person could ever attain. It takes a lifetime of working in and around animals learning their habits and traits. This is the hardest part. Then you must have the god given talent with the bow. Then you must research every aspect of your set up to give the best downrange performance (accuracy, speed, penetration, etc.). It takes many years becoming a pro at all of these to take animals consistently at long range. I took my first deer with a bow in the 60's and became an exceptional traditional archer (barebow recurve) before compounds came on the market. By the late 80's I had taken virtually all north american big game with a bow except the sheep which I could never draw for. I have taken numerous animals consistently at exceptional ranges and know what it takes to do it. If you do not have years to learn game habits it is impossible to do consistently. A lot the same as being a good long ranger with a rifle. I know what the animal is going to do before he does. I know when he is about to move. If you don't then don't try this. I know what his ears say, what his posture says, what his tail is saying, what his tongue is saying, what his eyes are saying, what his legs are saying, etc. If you don't then don't try this.
Then not only have you got to be accurate at long range which is the easy part, you have got to know how to equip your arrow to retain velocity at extended ranges while stabilizing the broadhead (ain't easy). Then one that will penetrate the likes of an elk at long range consistently. I did all of that testing all kinds of stuff to get the answers. The truth will surprise most archers. Like rifles heavy and stiff is optimum. For instance the best penetrating broadheads will not fly consistently in fast bows combined with the wind out west along with a thousand other problems with trying to do this. Your arrow must be heavy, stiff, fast and retain velocity well (fletching) plus have a broadhead that will penetrate well while not planing at high speed particularly in the wind. You good archers out there know what I am talking about. Some of those are maybe double negatives, well you can have one but not the other. You have got to figure a set up where you have it all and to do it properly you are dang near defying the laws of physics. I am talking plus 100 yard kills.
Yes it can be done consistently because I was there and did it and when I meet anyone else in the world who can I shake their hand in appreciation because I know what they went through to get to that point. So far I haven't met many. Mainly just a bunch who thought they could. Long range bowhunting is not something you just go out and do. It takes a lifetime of dedication. Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying others are not out there, I am just saying I haven't met many and am just trying to get across how rare an individual this would be. I have guided world champion archers who consistently shoot microscopic groups at well over a hundred yards and miss antelope and elk at twenty steps.
I saw in some of the posts a few guys that have been doing this a long time and had good points they would not know unless they have done this. There is some good info through there. JECustom, my first compound was a PSE Citation 4 wheeler Pete Shepley came out with to compete directly with the Jennings. Both were solid bows for the era but that dang arrowstar was to heavy for me to backpack with. Got to meet and hunt with Pete later on and he is a nice guy, unlike many try to make him out to be. Matter of fact my first world championship shoot in Las Vegas was with one of his bows about 25 years ago.
I know you guys don't know who I am and probably think I am just another jerk on the internet, but I guarantee I know what I am talking about. Wounding loss is not something we need in any kind of hunting.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
Len and everyone else on here. At 2:30 AM or so my time when I wrote my post my senses probably weren't the best and did a lot of rambling getting my point lost in there somewhere.
Long range hunting with a rifle is extremely difficult to do consistently and requires immense understanding of what you are attempting to do. Long Range bowhunting is opening up a whole new can of worms to do consistently. Multiply the difficulty by a thousand times over. My point was to make this point extremely clear.
Not saying it can't be done because I have done it, not condemming or critisizing the sport because I would be critisizing myself. Just please everybody that can shoot a hundred yards accurately don't go out there flinging arrows at game a hundred yards. Not until your animal skills catch up with your archery skills.
I am one of the rare individuals who has done a lot of both, traveling all over North America chasing my fantasies since the 60's, built the rifles and set up the bows to do it and have the understanding of the animals to do it. I know what I am talking about.
Time of flight of your projectile to the target combined with aerodynamics of the projectile make this dang near impossible to do consistently by anyone other than a top pro at archery and hunting. Lot of difference between the two. In conjunction with that conditions have got to line up perfectly also. Are long range kills made by guys that can just shoot good, yes, and there will be a few again this year. There will also be quite a lot of wounding because CONSISTENT is the key word here.
I know more archers who can shoot very well at a hundred yards than rifleman who can shoot at a thousand. There are a lot of them out there with advances in archery over the past twenty years combined with the popularity of the sport. But in long range bowhunting that is the easy part. Knowing the animal and the perfect conditions are the hard part. Out of a lot of excellent archers out there throwing arrows at long range a few will hit there mark and tell there stories wherever they can. Again consistency is the primary word here. We are not going to here about all the shots that didn't work out. When I shoot it is a miracle if the animal survives, not a miracle if it gets hit. That is the consistency I am talking about.
You guys don't condemn me but try to understand what I am trying to say. I have the coffee mug, the tee shirt, the ball cap, been there and done that. Wish I was young enough to do it again.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
I would just like agree with you on the part about animals behavior. No matter bow or rifle, when there is one second or more of travel time from device to target a lot can happen and a person needs to have some assurance that the animal is going to still be standing there when the projectile arrives. I am sure that you know a lot more about that than me but I would just say with a rifle I look for a pattern of movement followed by a stillness of at least five seconds. I may have been on the animal with the crosshairs and the drop set for five minutes so all I need to get the trigger squeezed is two seconds and then one second for TOT and a two second safety margin.
So you may have rambled around a lot but I thought your point was made and that it was a great thing to say.