Last week I shot a big, 150” 8-point in Canada. My buddy watched the video and noticed that I shoot every deer while sitting down in my stand. He asked me if I prefer seated shots? I told him that I prefer to be standing, it’s just that I’m rock-solid shooting while seated and I practice this shot often enough that I’m comfortable with it.
The discussion turned to the pros and cons of seated treestand shots. My buddy won’t shoot sitting down, in fact he has never taken a seated shot. I, on the other hand, can’t remember the last buck I shot standing up. He has never practiced from a stand, while I practice from a stand at least once a year. I thought it would be an interesting feature.
Pros to seated shots
Without question, you are rock-solid while seated. When a deer is approaching, you can sit still with your bow resting on your leg. It’s also quieter, especially if you are using a cheap, poorly engineered treestand that creaks and pops as you shift your weight while standing.
Pros to standing shots
There are two major benefits to shooting while standing; maneuverability and shot consistency. Maneuverability is critical – particularly during the rut. Deer are unpredictable, and you really can't tell where the shot will present itself. You may need to shoot off the right side, or the left side, or even behind the stand. The other pro is that, with few exceptions, everyone practices shooting their bows at targets while standing, not sitting.
Baited and waterhole stands
Whether you like baiting or not, nobody will deny their effectiveness at positioning the animal for a close shot. In situations like this, seated shots are optimal (in my opinion). Especially on established bait sites where deer are on alert as they approach baits. Where we hunt baits, all the stands are set up for a right-hand shooter and 18 yards from the stand.
Rut stands and food plots
For rut stands, and food plots where you can’t predict where the shot may occur, I prefer standing shots. You need to find a way that keeps movement to an absolute minimum. I generally set up my stands with a left shot toward the most likely action.
Sitting while Standing?
There’s now a new option that helps you maintain the rock-solid effectiveness of the seated shot while standing - giving you the ability to maneuver when necessary.
Summit Treestand’s new Dual Axis hang-on stand has a unique design that allows you to essentially sit, while standing. When a deer is approaching, the seat silently locks into a standing position and becomes a seat for your butt. In the down position, you sit on a large, ultra-comfortable mesh seat. Whether you are seated or standing, the Dual Axis is incredibly quiet with Summit’s DeadMetal sound dampening technology incorporated into the metal tubing. It’s been a long time since a company has innovated a hang-on stand and Summit really hit a home run with this treestand design.
Practice from your stand
Very few people practice from their treestand. I understand the logistical burden but it’s important to do it (occasionally) so you understand how it affects the shot. It’s more critical for seated shots, but it’s also important that you understand different shot angles and how to adapt to them. Start off with the easy shots, then build up to more difficult ones:
Suggested Practice Shots
20-yard standing shot from a 15’ high stand - this shot is simple and there’s not much deviation from a standing practice shot.
20-yard seated shot from a 15’ high stand - A bit trickier if you’re not used to seated shots.
8-yard standing shot from a 15’ stand - It’s still easy, but angle changes impact a bit. Good to understand the physics.
8-yard seated shot from a 15’stand - Close shots are trickier in the seated position and require practice.
Straight down shot from a 15' stand - This is the shot guys mess up all the time, mostly because they only take this this shot on live animals and never in practice. All sorts of complications are present with this shot including your arrow floating off your rest, inability to see through your peep, and finding it impossible to get to anchor. If you can’t practice this shot, don’t take it. There’s no way to take this shot unless you are standing.
Besides the shot angles, it’s also helpful to practice different scenarios from your stand. For example, a deer comes behind your stand and you need to stand up – turn 180 degrees to face the tree. Like the straight-down shot, very few practice it. They get tangled up in their harness tether, or they have no way to position their bow (with a nocked arrow) on the off side of the tree. .
Whether you prefer to shoot seated, or standing, it’s important that you are familiar with taking those shots in practice. Having a tree stand like the Dual Axis is extremely helpful for giving you the option of standing or sitting, but it’s up to you to understand your limitations and familiarize yourself with a variety of conditions that are surely going to present itself in the field.