I visualize my shot every time I am in the woods. Each spot offers different opportunities and different entry points where deer/bear/turkey typically travel. I picture the animals walking in from each side and how I can move (or not) to get the most effective shot off without blowing my cover. As someone who needs to be hunting from a blind and am usually in a tree, this helps to alleviate some of the adrenaline gitters that can creep in when an animal actually appears.
Prior to each hunting season, we spend time sighting in our guns and bows and have shot at many different targets throughout the years. Rifles are probably the easiest; we aim at either circles drawn on a piece of paper or an old plastic jug. They are larger targets but if we are able to group our shots and come close to whatever bullseye that we are aiming at, then we know that the rifles are good to go. A few years ago, Dad and I sat at the kitchen table and used a stuffed Rudolph the Red –Nose Reindeer that I had to go over shot placement based on where the deer may be coming into my shooting lane and where I could and should not shoot. It is an algebra equation really; if the animal comes in at “X” angle, then your placement needs to be “Y” in order to end up with a dead animal.
When Dad and I got ready for our first turkey hunt, Dad drew the neck and head of a turkey on a piece of paper and we aimed at that; the goal being to visualize where on the turkey to place that bead in order to get the tightest grouping and make the biggest impact. This helped us figure out the spread and yardage for each shot.
As Hubs and I get into bow hunting, we have square targets, one large and one small, and a 3D deer target to work with and improve our accuracy. I like the 3D target better as it helps me visualize where on the deer to be aiming based on distance and how high I am in the tree. For him, it doesn’t matter what he is shooting at, as long as his grouping is where he wants it to be consistently.
So do targets really matter? Is the 3D target really any better than the circle we draw on a piece of paper or a stuffed animal? Are they more important for visualizing shot placement or are they better for sighting in your weapon? Or both? Regardless of which ones you use, they will hopefully help with the end result and lead you to have a successful hunt.