Archery Targets

Best Archery Targets for Your Backyard Range [Ultimate Guide]

In Archery, Archery Accessories, Archery Tips, Bowhunting, Compound Bows, Longbows, Recurve Bows, Traditional Archery by Vineet Jain2 Comments

The only way to master any new skill is practice. Hours and hours of practice. Archery is no different.

A sport that requires tremendous amounts of patience and precision, it is nevertheless a very popular sport that has many takers all over the world. Most archers, of course, practice on a target.

Archery targets are an important part of the process of learning as they not only help keep you and the people around you safe but are also an easy way to help you gauge your progress through those grueling hours of training.

There are a few things that are essential to a good archery target. It should neither stop your arrows too fast nor too slow.

The problem with targets that stop your arrows too fast is that the stress on impact may wear out your arrow too soon.

On the other hand, if the target is too slow in stopping your arrow, it means greater damage to the target and a shorter lifespan, along with the arrow retrieval being harder.

The target also needs to be large enough to stop the odd stray arrows that may not land exactly where you intended them to, especially if you’re a beginner at archery.

All of these combined make it seem like a daunting task to choose the right target for you, so we put together a guide to make it a little easier.

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1. Types of Archery Targets

First, we need to be introduced to the major types of archery targets.

Archery targets can be of varied kinds and made of various materials. But all of the targets will have two parts: a frame and a backstop.

While the frame gives shape to your target and holds it in place, the backstop is made of a material that slows your arrows down and stops them.

Once you have these in place, it is also common to paint or print out and paste a bullseye onto the target. The most common types of archery targets are listed below.

  • Paper targets: These are the most basic kind of targets which are just paper stuck onto a harder surface such as cardboard or wood. Paper targets are not very durable and may also harm your arrows.
  • Bag targets: As the name suggests, these are bags filled with material such as plastic, rags or other such materials which can slow the arrow down by absorbing the kinetic energy. Bag targets are a better choice for beginners and intermediate level learners who are serious about training.
  • Block targets: These are targets made of foam blocks. Block targets are definitely the most durable as some of them even come with self-healing foam that minimizes the damage caused by your arrow. These are a good choice for heavy use.
  • 3D targets: Much like block targets, 3D targets are also made of foam, but these have foam shaped in the form of different animals. They give you all the advantages of block targets while adding an element of fun and also making the training closer to reality for those interested in archery for hunting.

Read: Ultimate Guide To Making Your Own Archery Targets

2. Homemade VS Readymade Archery Targets

As we said earlier, archery targets are of various kinds. And you can choose to either buy an archery target readymade from the store or construct one on your own.

2.1 Readymade Archery Targets

The easiest way to get an archery target is to walk into the nearest archery store or an online store and choose whatever suits you best.

Readymade archery targets are preferred by many as it saves them the hassle of making their own.

Pros:

  1. No effort required to make them, you can focus that energy in archery practice.
  2. Durability is guaranteed, if you get them from tried and tested companies.
  3. Comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms.

Cons:

  1. Expensive, especially if you use them a lot and need to replace often.

2.2 Homemade Archery Targets

There is no question that archery targets are essential to archery, but as seen above, in case of getting them readymade, they may also be a burden on your pocket as they tend to be expensive.

In addition to the pricing, archery targets also tend to get worn out over use, and there will be a need to replace them every once in a while.

Hence, it may be prudent to have a go at making your archery targets at home.

Homemade archery targets also are of various kinds. You may initially need to spend some money to make these targets at home but their replaceable parts and durability are eventually lighter on your pocket than readymade targets.

Pros:

  1. They are more affordable and cost-effective
  2. They are customizable according to your personal preferences
  3. Homemade targets are usually made of materials that are replaceable, which means they will last you a long time.

Cons:

  1. Requires time and effort to make
  2. A certain skill level at construction is needed

Read: How Do I Make An Archery Target?

3. Which Is The Right Target For You?

The right kind of target for you depends on your personal needs.

If you are someone who has the time and skills and is also willing to put in the effort to make a DIY archery target, it will eventually be better for your pocket.

If you wear out your target quite often or if you need a target for your basement or backyard range and are interested in archery for recreational purposes, it may be a good idea to consider making your own targets.

On the other hand, if you cannot spare the time required to make your own target, and would rather expend energy shooting your arrows, it is best to stick to readymade targets.

In case you practice archery for hunting purposes, it will help you to practice on the readymade 3D targets that are in the shape of diverse animals.

How to Choose the Best Archery Target

4. Target Materials

While popular media may have us believing that anything from a tree to an apple on somebody’s head can be used as a target, professional archery actually relies on certain materials.

These materials are needed to ensure both the safety of the arrow as well as the safety of those around you. So let us look at what are archery targets made of.

A very important part of a target is the stuffing, that is, the material that stops your arrows. Stuffing can be anything from hay and rags, to plastic or foam.

Hay, rags, carpet trimmings, plastic bags, etc. are all materials used in stuffing for bag targets or box targets.

Foam targets are also very popular as some kinds of foam have self-healing properties that ensure their durability.

While the former kind of stuffing stops arrows by absorption of force, the latter stops arrows by friction.

The frame of the target can be made of either cardboard, or wood if you need a sturdier target. In the case of bag targets, some tarp or plastic is used to wrap the stuffing in tightly.

5. Homemade Targets: Constructing Targets

Having looked at the materials that we can use for targets, let us look at the ways in which we can use those materials for your very own archery projects as there are various DIY archery ideas to engage with.

There are a number of ways to construct DIY targets. Some of the most popular have been explained below:

5.1 The Box Target:

A box target would be ideal for beginners at archery.

Creating a box target is simple. Take a cardboard box of around 18×18 inches. Your box can be a different size, but this is generally recommended.

Now, fill the box with plastic bags, rags or shrink film. Stuff the packing in very tightly so that your arrows don’t sink deep.

Once that is done, just tape up the edges with duct tape, paint a bull’s-eye or any other design on the side and you’re good to go.

Alternatively, you may also choose to replace the stuffing by instead having pieces of cardboard stuck together to hold the frame firmly in place.

The box target works well with both traditional archery as well as compound bows, but do make sure that your arrows are field point, as broadhead arrows are likely to get stuck or damaged.

These would work great if you have a basement or indoor shooting range.

Read: 7 Ways To Make an Inexpensive DIY Archery Target

DIY Homemade Archery Target from Scrap Materials

5.2 The Bag Target:

As the name suggests, bag targets are just bags filled with stuffing that can stop your arrows.

While it is recommended that the outer covering of your bag be plastic to offer better protection from the elements, your stuffing can be whatever is easily available to you.

You could use carpet trimmings, bales of hay, plastic, shrink film, rags, etc.

The covering could be cloth, but plastic tarp is usually more weather resistant and hence more durable.

5.3 The Foam Target:

The foam target is perhaps the sturdiest and most durable on this list. However, it also requires the most expensive materials.

One of the ways is to use a block of foam. This is the easiest of all the ways to make a DIY target.

Once you buy a block of foam (preferably polyethylene), just paint a target onto it and start shooting.

On the other hand, you could make your foam target more durable by giving it a wooden frame and making it a layered target.

This is done by constructing a wooden frame for your target first and then having foam mats tightly compressed together to make a rectangular or cubic 3D structure.

Many versions of this also use threaded rods as a convenient way to compress the foam mats as well as making easy replacements whenever needed.

A major pro of this is the option to reshuffle the mats whenever the centre gets shot out, meaning that your foam mat target lasts longer and you can get good use out of it.

Read: Ultra-Durable Foam Archery Target

Make Your Own Carpet Archery Target

6. Some Readymade Targets – Buying Some Targets

Of course, while homemade DIY targets may sound appealing to some, there are definitely people out there who don’t have the time, materials or handyman skills to go about creating their own targets.

In that case, the archery world offers a multitude of options for those who prefer buying their targets.

6.1 What to look for when buying a readymade target?

There are certain areas that you must focus on while looking for a readymade target.

6.1.1 Size:

The size of the target is an important aspect to consider while buying a target.

For beginners, it is probably advisable to get a larger sized target. One con of having a target that’s larger in size is that it will be heavier, so do factor in transportation while deciding on the size of the target you want to buy.

Additionally, recurve bow users and those interested in traditional archery would probably be better off getting a larger size, as these are harder to shoot accurately.

On the other hand, if you use a compound bow, you could make do with a smaller size.

The target size also depends on the range at which you are going to be shooting.

In case of an indoor range or a basement, a smaller target would do fine, while if you are looking at an outdoors range, it may be advisable to get a bigger one.

6.1.2 Sturdiness:

When you buy a target, you need to make sure it is durable enough for your purposes.

Depending on the amount of time you are going to spend shooting or the distance at which you will be shooting, different targets will give you different outputs.

For example, a bag target would be durable in an indoors set-up as it can be protected from the weather/outdoor elements.

In case of a backyard range, maybe a block target would survive for longer.

Another aspect under durability is the self-healing nature of some foam targets.

Once you pull out the arrow that you shot into it, the foam adjusts itself to fill up the space that the arrow created.

This feature makes certain foam block targets last for much longer than any other kind of targets and thus make them appealing for long term use.

6.1.3 Arrow Retrieval:

You are going to want a target that makes it easy for you to retrieve your arrows.

As you will be likely to be shooting thousands of times at the target, you wouldn’t want to waste too much time retrieving your arrows.

You will need a target that allows for easy retrieval without causing damage to the arrows or the fletching.

6.1.4 Arrow Security/Compatibility:

You need to make sure that the target you are purchasing is compatible with the kind of arrows you want to shoot.

While most targets can easily handle field point arrows, the kinds of targets that can handle broadhead arrows are rarer and generally more expensive.

You also need to make sure the material is not of a kind that can damage your arrows on being shot into it.

You may also do well to ensure that the target can handle the bow you are using.

Lighter targets may not be able to handle the force of a compound bow and may be knocked over each time you shoot at them.

Read: Best Archery Target For The Money – 2020 Reviews

6.2 What types of target are suitable for your needs?

Depending on the type of archery you practice, and the kind of range you practice at, as well as the bow and arrows you use, which archery target is best for you, will vary.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the three most common types of targets mentioned earlier, as well as their ideal usage.

6.2.1 Bag Targets

Bag targets are the most popular and common of archery targets. They are versatile and suitable for both indoors and outdoors shooting ranges.

However, due to their size and for durability, they perhaps work best indoors. They are also fit for field point arrows rather than broadheads.

They can be used for both traditional bows as well as compound bows although, for the latter, it is better to have a heavier bag.

Pros:

  • Bag targets allow for easy arrow retrieval
  • Can use field point arrows
  • Bags can stop arrows quickly
  • Most affordable of all the options

Cons:

  • Cannot use broadheads
  • Heavier bags may be harder to carry around
  • Not as durable as the other options

We have hand picked some of the best targets currently available in the market and curated them for you:

BAG TARGETS
(Click on image or the link to check prices and reviews on Amazon)

Morrell Yellow Jacket Stinger Field Point Bag Archery Target

Morrell Double Duty 450FPS Field Point Bag Archery Target

Morrell Outdoor Range Field Point Bag Archery Target

Delta McKenzie Speedbag Archery Target

Hurricane Bag Archery Target

Morrell Yellow Jacket YJ-425 Field Point Bag Archery Target

DELTA 70630 Speedbag Crossbow


6.2.2 Block Targets

Block targets are the most durable of archery targets. These are suitable for both indoors and outdoors, but will probably be better put to use outdoors as they are weather-resistant and hardy.

Depending on the product, you can use field point arrows or broadheads with block targets. They can be used for both traditional archery as well as a compound setup.

Pros:

  • Can use broadheads as well as field point arrows
  • Easy to transport
  • Weather-resistant
  • The self-healing core in most versions makes it more durable
  • Affordable as compared to 3D targets

Cons:

  • Arrow removal may be harder

We have hand picked some of the best targets currently available in the market and curated them for you:

BLOCK TARGETS
(Click on image or the link to check prices and reviews on Amazon)

Block Classic Archery Target

Rinehart 18-1 Broadhead Target

Black Hole – 4 Sided Archery Target

Block GenZ XL 20” Youth Archery Arrow Target

Block Black Crossbow 4-Sided Archery Target

Morrell Yellow Jacket YJ-380 Archery Target

Block Vault 4-Sided Archery Target

Rinehart Rhino Block XL Target

6.2.3 3D Targets

These are definitely the best kind of targets for those looking for a realistic hunting experience while training.

As they are usually made of foam, it is possible to use both field points as well as broadheads on these targets.

They are also made for outdoor ranges as they are built to practice hunting on, making them an ideal fit for your backyard range.

Pros:

  • Real-life hunting scenarios can be practiced
  • Can shoot at it from different angles
  • Most of them have replaceable cores, ensuring durability
  • Can practice with various shooting distances
  • Make it possible to practice hitting vital organs

Cons:

  • Are the most expensive option
  • Cheaper versions may not be durable
  • Arrow retrieval may be harder due to the foam core

We have hand picked some of the best targets currently available in the market and curated them for you:

3D TARGETS
(Click on the image of the link to check prices and reviews on Amazon)

GlenDel Buck 3D Archery Target

Shooter Field Logic 3D Archery Hog Target

Rinehart Woodland Boar 3D Target

Delta McKenzie Strutter Turkey

Delta McKenzie 3D Fox

Delta Howling Coyote 3D Target

CW-X Delta McKenzie 3D Raccoon Target

6.3 Typical Range of Targets

While building your basement archery range or backyard archery range, you need to take into account the space available to you.

Most archery experts recommend having around 20 yards of space between the archer and the target.

However, sometimes, you may not have the luxury of that space. In that case, you can also practice your archery over shorter distances, some people even practicing with a distance of 5 yards.

  • Paper targets or cardboard targets are best used for shorter distances, making them an ideal fit for indoors DIY shooting ranges.
  • The bag targets are ideal for shorter distances. Moreover, their usually compact size makes it easier to be accurate over small distances rather than longer. These may be perfect for a basement indoors shooting range.
  • The block targets are flexible for both short as well as long distances. The smaller targets may, however, be harder to hit over longer distances. These can be used indoors as well as outdoors.
  • The 3D targets are large and thus best for long distances, even though you can use them to shoot short distances as well. The best use of these would be outdoors, perhaps in your backyard shooting range.

Conclusion

The image of archery is mainly associated with the bow and arrow, however, archery targets are just as essential to archery.

Having gone through the nitty-gritties of archery targets, we hope to have left you with better archery range ideas.

Be it readymade targets or DIY archery targets, the decision is a monumental one and you need to choose the best target for your purposes, be it a basement/backyard range, or hunting.

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