Top Shot: How to Hit a Moving Target

Editor's Note: Tim Trefren is a hunting guide from Wyoming and a competitor on Top Shot, the History Channel's reality tv show about marksmanship. Each week Tim will blog about the most recent episode offering insight and shooting tips.

In the last Top Shot episode, we used the new BowTech Strike Force crossbow in a a head-to-head challenge with rotating targets. But because of my archery experience, our rival team (the blue team) voted to make me sit this one out.

REALLY?! After all the crap we have shot, we finally get a weapon that's right up my alley and I have to sit down? Fine, they can keep me from shooting but they can't shut me up. I decided to talk my teammates through every shot.

The hardest part of this challenge was going to be tracking targets as they rotate at 25 yards. 

When shooting moving targets (and this goes for all disciplines of shooting) there are two ways a shooter can get hits. The first method is called ambushing, which means having to walk your shot in to the target. For this method, a shooter needs to fire a few reference shots until he has the right space between his aiming point and the target's location. For example, if I am shooting a rotating target at 25 yards, taking into account the speed of the projectile and the speed of the target, I may shoot when my sight is 6 inches in front of the leading edge of the target. Then I'll make adjustments accordingly.

If you watch the show, you will see some of the shooters doing this exact method. Understanding this method, I was able to call out shot holds for the shooters at the line and help them make faster hits. Remember when I said they can't shut me up!

The second method is called tracking. When tracking a target, the shooter will try to maintain constant sight on the target. The theory is that if your sights don't leave the target, there is less room for error and guessing. When tracking a target, the shooter must maintain the sight on the target the entire time right through the shot. The most common mistake shooters make when tracking is not following through after the shot. You must NOT stop your swing after you pull the trigger. Even though the trigger is pulled and the shot has been released, it still takes a fraction of a second for the projectile to leave the weapon.

If you stop your weapon before the shot leaves, you will miss every time.

Thanks for watching and remember to tune in on Tuesdays on the History Channel at 10/9C.