The Frontal Shot

Frontal Shots with a bow

Disclaimer ! Although this can be a devastating shot and if made correctly the track job should be very short. If you don’t have the utmost confidence in your ability to hit exactly where you are aiming every-time, if you don’t have the confidence to “thread the needle” or you don’t have a vast understanding of deer/elk anatomy do not take this shot it can result in single lung hits or lodged in bone which more times than not mean you are not recovering that animal.

So over the years I have been faced with many frontal shot opportunities and the decision to shoot or not. I can say with great certainty that although its not my first choice I am a big fan of the frontal shot as long as you have the right training/practice and the conditions are right for it. I can hear the keyboard experts now…… Never ever take a frontal shot! and they would be right if you don’t have the following understanding, practice and experience:

The Right conditions for a frontal shot: Distance is the number one limiting factor and depending on the species will dictate how far you should limit your shot to. As a rule of thumb Elk I typically limit myself to 30 yards an under because you have (and I know this sound counter intuitive) a smaller window of opportunity to place the shot in the right spot. This is mainly due to the heavy sternum and shoulder bones up front. Their anatomy really only gives you about a 9″x 11″ hole to shoot through on a straight frontal shot and the window is even smaller on a quartering to shot. The other reason for the shorter distance I want the arc of the arrow to be flatter so the entrance is more direct. As a rule of thumb on deer and antelope 50 yards or less and that only if the animal is unsuspecting. If they are looking right at you and are possibly aware of your presence 25 yards or less. Mainly because deer and antelope have amazing reflexes and will often react fast enough to disrupt your shot. I have killed coyote and bear with frontal shots at greater distances but its very situation specific.

Your equipment: If shot placement is King then penetration is Queen, it is very important to be able to reach as deep as possible with these shots to maximize your chances of having success. Quartering to shots that have and exit hole are 4x more likely to have a favorable outcome and I don’t have statistic for you but I can assure you every 1′ more penetration you have on straight frontal shot your percentage for success goes up. This being said I would not take frontal shots if you are shooting less than 65lbs and your arrow weight is less than 440grn TW . Broadheads are key in all shots but especially in these situations you don’t want a broadhead that robs you of penetration you can check out my broadhead suggestions here. As far a TW of the arrow I’ve always been a medium weight guy I like punch but I like speed too I shoot a 456grn set up at 282fps I get flat shooting arrows and haven’t had many problems with penetration and the few times I did it was a poorly placed shot

Where to aim for a frontal : I figured it may be difficult to explain where to shoot when faced with a front shot so instead I have a few diagrams to show you where I like to aim . But the best advice I can offer you is to study the anatomy of the animal you are hunting and practice visualizing where the vitals are in a frontal shot or any shot for that matter

Elk Frontal shot
Whitetail deer frontal shot slightly quarter to

There is actually a twig in the way on this shot and I wouldn’t take it
Mule deer often have a stripe of black that give a nice aiming point
Elk Frontal shot courtesy of Elk 101

Where to aim for a quartering to shot: The quartering to shot is very similar and is a shot is will take on deer but not elk unless I am slightly elevated or slightly below and have the angle to place it within that 11×9″ window otherwise I’d prefer almost straight on

Training for a frontal shot: Nothing replaces life like experience so its important that you incorporate this into your training. I like to run a 50 yard sprint into my shooting position and then shoot at a 3d target set up in different angles and yardages. You can see some of my hunting preparation here.

Check out my podcast with Joel Turner on Frontal shots

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Hard quartering shot out of a tree