Novice and professional archers alike must practice to maintain, improve, and fine-tune their skills. When access to an archery range is out of reach, turning to a backyard archery target is a cheap, easy, and effective option.
The thing about archery practice is that you need to do a lot of it to maintain accuracy. This means you need a target that can take a beating without beating up your arrows. Targets made of a material that will slow your arrow down just fast enough will provide the longest-lasting experience.
All archery targets available on the market are made of two main parts: the frame, which holds the material that will stop your arrow, and the backdrop, which is the wood, cardboard, bag, paper, or foam, taking the hit.
Photo credit: Camp Pinewood via Flickr
The 5 Main Types of Archery Targets
Important note: In some municipalities, shooting a bow is considered firing a weapon. Please check in with local authorities to make sure you’re legal to practice archery in your own backyard!
If you can’t shoot in your backyard, public land is often a great place to get your shot on. Onx Hunt can help you find public options near you. But always be sure that the area behind your target is clear of people, animals, or property in case an errant arrow goes flying!
Paper targets are by far the most simplistic of the targets on the list. You must have a backdrop for paper targets! These are more of an accessory for shooting than an option for shooting alone.
Paper targets are just that. You can make your own or buy one online. The target itself is affordable and easy to make, but it depends on the backdrop you use.
You will run through one paper target per training session, sometimes more, depending on how many hours are put in. They are readily available in large quantities in sporting goods stores and can be found on Amazon.
Use one of the other targets on our list as a backdrop for your paper targets.
Bag targets are sewn bags with synthetic fiber filling that easily stops your arrow. This design allows for easy removal of your arrow, mainly if you’re using field points.
Bag targets are tough, and that’s the best thing about them. They can take high forces, making this one of your best choices to use as a crossbow target. The multiple sides to the target allow you to practice on four different bullseye styles, which can help mix up your practice routine. They’re also easy to haul around.
One con of bag targets is that they aren’t incredibly weatherproof. So if you’re using an outdoor range, you may need to lug your bag target in and out to practice, and they can be heavy. Avoiding the rain will avoid deteriorating your target, but it adds inconvenience.
Bag targets are great for hanging indoors and will have a longer lifespan if used with the correct arrows. You can also invest in a bag target that utilizes more weather-resistant technology.
An archery target block comprises multiple layers of foam. These are then propped up on an archery target stand, making the block target.
A block target is a classic for the backyard. For beginners, it’s hard to mess up. The technology of the foam used in block targets has come a long way as well. Self-healing foam increases the lifespan of the target drastically. This makes the block target the best option if looking for a broadhead target.
Block targets work by pinching the arrow between the layers of foam. This limits you to shooting at these targets head-on to avoid ruining the target and ensuring your arrow is caught effectively.
With the new self-healing foam, block targets are the best choice for durability and long lifespan but may restrict you to an unexciting and monotonous practice session.
The variety of 3D targets add a layer of fun and allows for a much more realistic practice, especially when honing your hunting skills.
3D targets are similar to block targets, but they have a replaceable core that allows for a longer lifespan. Beware of using broadhead arrows on 3D targets, though, as they may get stuck in the core and make for tricky removal.
To up the fun factor, 3D archery targets come in a vast array of different types of animals. You can choose to get a deer target or turn your backyard into a safari with lions and gazelles. Or frighten your neighbors with a full-size, $3,500 sasquatch.
To further prepare, you can transform your yard into a simulation to train for hunting season. Have a high deck? Put a target below if you’re working on shots from a treestand. Or build a stand with several 3D targets around and practice shooting at different angles.
When working with a tight budget, or if you have a specific idea for a target, then making a homemade target will fit the bill. Paper targets, bag targets, and even block targets can be made at home with the right materials. For example, people have used haybales as archery targets forever.
Homemade targets can be made well if enough time and money are invested. If done poorly, homemade targets will quickly be destroyed and you’ll be online shopping or in the nearest store buying a new target.
We like this video from Elk 101, and this article from Boss Targets has tons of ideas for making safe, affordable targets at home.
Your backyard is a great practice area that will prepare you for the next hunting season, a competition, or to have some fun with the family.
Choose the right target, and any of these goals can be achieved.