3 Easy DIY Archery Targets
Archery doesn't have to be an expensive sport. Here are three cheap and easy ways to make archery targets for backyard practice.
You have found just the right bow, finished selecting the finest arrows, but now you don't want to waste time or money searching for an archery target that will suit your needs best.
Let's be honest, archery targets aren't the cheapest things to begin with. Plus it is hard to figure out which one is the right size or matches your bow draw weight.
I have learned that when it is difficult to find what you are looking for, the best option is to make it.
The three types of targets I will show you how to make are:
- The Box Target
- The Foam Cube
- The Everlast Bag Target
!Disclaimer!- All of these targets are designed to be used with practice arrows. Field or target points only. The use of broadheads will only shorten the lifespan of each target drastically and may cause damage to your arrows during use.
We will go step by step through the constructing of these targets and I will give a short review on my experience with each design. Materials will be listed, to make it easier for you to gather what you'll need.
Let's start with the easiest of the three. The Box Target.
#1. Box Target
This target uses the least amount of materials and is really fast to make.
It is best suited for youth bows under #20 draw weight. You can shoot it with larger bows, but you may have to test and change your build strength as needed.
1 Cardboard box, size by preference
Lots of old newspapers, magazines, and that brown packing paper from amazon orders
Build Time: 30 minutes max
Step 1- Start by choosing the box for your target. Any size will do, so choose what you think will work best for you. Keep in mind that the bigger the box you choose the more paper you will need to fill it.
Step 2- Grab you paper and crumple it up into wads and ball it into the box. Fill the box till it over flows and there are no air pockets inside.
Note- The higher poundage bows, 20+ pounds, will require more stuffing inside the box in order to stop the arrow from flying through it.
Step 3- Tape the box shut and you're ready to practice shooting in your back yard! If your box falls over while you're shooting it, try taping it to a tent stake in the ground.
My Thoughts- This target is great when you are just getting a feel for archery or have a child interested in the sport. Very simple to make without breaking the bank and great for the kids to practice with in the yard. If you want to get creative, you could find different shaped boxes or tape paper targets onto the box. Use your imagination to spice things up!
Unfortunately this target is not the longest lasting. You will get a couple hundred arrows into it before it busts. Use it till it doesn't work, then you can find a new box, fill that with the paper, and you're good to go again.
Caution, don't leave it out in the weather or it will melt and fall apart faster!
#2. Foam Cube Target
Foam is the most commonly used material for making archery targets these days. This design allows for you to choose a size that fits your skill level and it is weather proof, so you can leave it outside when you're done.
- 1+ sheet(s) of polystyrene rigid foam insulation, comes in 2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheets
1 Role of black plastic sheeting, found in the store's garden section
Build Time: 45-60 minutes max
Step 1- Purchase your foam insulation. It is sold in large sheets at Lowes and Home Depot, 2in x 4ft x 8ft. A full sheet costs around $29.00 depending on where you can find them.
Polystyrene rigid foam insulation offers a great alternative to the foam targets purchased in stores, at half the cost.
Step 2- Using a box cutter or large knife, cut the large sheet(s) of foam into the size you want your target to be. I usually choose 2ft x 2ft squares as a convenient size.
Note- The foam is 2in thick, so you will need to stack at least 3 cut foam slices, totaling in 6in minimum for your target's thickness. That should be enough to stop the arrow from flying through it. Test your bow on it to judge the proper thickness needed.
Step 3- Tightly pack the foam sheets together and tape them into one solid block. After the foam block is built, wrap the entire thing in the garden plastic sheeting. This will help hold the whole thing together when foam bits start falling off and make it water proof.
Use the stapler and tape as needed to secure the plastic tightly around the foam.
My Thoughts- Love this design! Relatively easy to make. Although it can be tricky to fine the right materials at a good price. The life of this target is also longer then the Box Target, mostly due to it being more weather proof. The durability of the foam also allows for a wider range of bow strengths to be used on this target type.
I was able to shoot about 1000-1200 arrows into this design before it starts leaving foam bits everywhere.
#3. Everlast Bag Target
This target design is by far my favorite. It is a bit more time consuming to make, but will last years on end without you needing to replace it. I use this particular design when teaching youth classes, so they are truly sturdy when done.
- 1 Burlap bag, roughly 2 ft. x 4 ft. laid out flat
- Lots and lots of shredded cloth, scrap clothes, and sewing scraps
- Needle and thread
- 2ft zipper, sewing section of stores (optional)
Build Time: 60-80 minutes max
Step 1- Find at least a trash bag full of old cloth scraps and clothes. This will serve as the shredded stuffing for your target. I found some quilting guilds and friends to donate scraps, so it came at no cost. This may take some time to accumulate enough to fill your bag.
Step 2- Once you have enough cloth, fill your bag up. Pack the cloth in tight and make sure not to leave any air pockets inside.
Note- When using this Bag Target for practice with youth bows it can be beneficial to add a thin sheet of cardboard inside the front of the bag. This will offer rigidity and support. Plus allows for the arrows to stick better when shot from less powerful bows.
Step 3- Sew the top of the bag shut to hold your stuffing in.
Optional- I restuff my bag targets and replace the cardboard lining regularly, so I chose to sew a zipper onto the opening of the bag to offer easier access to the inside. This is not required for the target to be fully functional.
My Thoughts- I use this target design for all of the youth classes I teach and they have stood up to thousands of arrows being shot into them. These things last! They are more time consuming to build and to find all the materials, but it is worth it in the end.
They are not the most weather proof, since they will soak up rain like a sponge, so store them indoors for best results. The first thing to go will be the bag itself. When it gets a hole ripped in it just transfer the cloth to a new bag, they only cost a couple dollars each online. You will only have to do this once every couple years, depending on how often you use the target.
One down side is that this target can get quite heavy depending on how large your burlap bag is and how dense you pack the cloth inside.
Hopefully these can serve as inspiration and a great place to start when building your own targets for practice. Don't be afraid to change these designs or try different materials readily available to you .
The longer we can keep our targets cheap and simple, the more time we can spend shooting them instead.
Share your archery target designs and pictures with us on Facebook or in the comments below!