Big Game Shot Placement
The objective of every conscientious hunter is to kill an animal as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary suffering and to secure the highest quality meat. Before a hunter takes a shot, it is their responsibility to be sure that the shot is clean and accurate. If you intend to hunt big game, use the most appropriate firearm and ammunition for the game that you are hunting.
- Use a rifle or bow that has been properly sighted in.
- Study big game anatomy to learn what organs or bones your bullet or arrow may hit from various angles.
- It is important to practice at the distances and conditions you could be shooting in. Wind can significantly effect your accuracy.
There are several vital zones in game animals but the heart-lung vital zone is the recommended shot placement for a humane and quick kill. For example, in moose, the heart-lung vital area is about the size of a basketball and is the largest vital zone.
Heart and double lung placement
The best shot placement for a heart and double lung shot is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or facing slightly away or towards the hunter (quartering). The advantages of this placement is that a quick death is certain and it minimizes the loss of meat if the bullet enters and exits through the ribs.
Location of crosshairs for a heart and double lung shot: broadside
On a broadside shot, place the horizontal crosshairs about 1/3 of the distance from the bottom of the chest to the top of the back. Place the vertical crosshair directly behind the near side front shoulder.
Consider the angle
Whether quartering forward (A) quartering away (B) or forward facing (C) it is always important to consider the angle of the animal, and how that affects the vital organ location when contemplating a shot. Be sure that your caliber and bullet type will be able to break any bones that the bullet will need to pass through (shoulder bones) to reach the vital organs. Also remember that a shot to the rear (D) is not advisable as no vital organs are immediately present and the chance of wounding is very high.
Quartering shot from above
Identify these parts in the bear illustration:
- Shoulder Blade