A responsible hunter knows when taking a shot is appropriate and when it is not. An appropriate shot should hit an animal’s vital areas for a quick, clean harvest.

These are different big game shots a hunter will likely encounter in the field.

Front shot

Hitting the vital areas with an up-front shot is quite difficult since the bullet will have to travel through bone to hit the vital organs. Also, because the animal is staring straight at the hunter, the slightest movement from the hunter will send the animal running. Bow hunters should never attempt this shot; firearm hunters should be extremely careful if attempting it. In the majority of cases, it is advisable to wait for a better shot.


Quartering-toward is still not an ideal shot since the animal is looking in the direction of the hunter at this angle. However, the vital organs are more vulnerable from this angle than with a front shot. If the hunter is already positioned for the shot, a quartering-toward shot can be acceptable. Again, bow hunters should not attempt this shot.


The broadside shot allows the bullet or arrow to easily pass through the rib cage to hit the heart and lung area. The hunter also has a wider target to aim at. This is one of the best shots for firearm and bow hunters alike.


The quartering-away shot also offers a clear path to the heart and lungs. If it is on the right side of the animal, this shot will travel through the liver as well. The result will be a very quick harvest of the animal. This is a good shot for a firearm or bow hunter.

Rear shot

The rear shot offers little to no chance of hitting any vital area of the animal. NEVER fire at an animal that is heading straight away from you.

insider Membership

Our top tier membership gives you everything we offer! Research tool, maps, and gear shop rewards, all in one plan.