All the way to where it hits the ground....... Seriously though, usually 3 to 7 yards for me. Easy to find in snow, but you could use a cheap tarp or old sheet to help. Sometimes the little buggers hide real well in grass
You want it to separate from the ball as soon as possible for the best accuracy but I have no idea how to make it separate faster. I think mine go about 10 yards or so. I use red or blue bed ticking and cut my own. I think I will have to play with the size a little to see how that affects the separation.