Home Made Archery Targets

Home Made Archery Targets
In this post, I will be considering how to make your own archery target. The main
advantage, of course, is cost. It is possible to self manufacture a serviceable target at the fraction of the cost of buying a target from an archery store. Will these targets be as good as commercially sourced targets? No, but it is feasible to construct a target that will come pretty close. Homemade targets should fulfill the same desirable criteria we find in the commercially sourced variety. The ideal target should be: portable, durable, retard arrow penetration and allow easy arrow extraction.


Over the years I have experimented with quite a few homemade target designs.
What follows is, in my opinion, the best target designs that are cheap, relatively easy to construct and only require a minimum of practical skill.  

Rubber Mats

Rubber tiling mats are easy to source from a variety of outlets. For my target, I
utilised mats designed to cover children’s play areas. They generally come in packs of four and initially, you will require a pack of two. The build process is very simple. Take the individual tiles and apply a contact adhesive. Take care in your choice of adhesive: some types will eat into the rubber. Once the adhesive has become tacky, stack them together and apply weights on the top surface to aid bonding.

Within 24 hours your target is ready to use. I usually apply duct tape to cover the edges and surfaces, but this is not necessary. You will need to find a way to keep the target upright whilst shooting. Or you could add handles in order to hang the target off the branch of a tree. Add a paper target and you are ready to shoot.

This type of target is not suitable for high powered compound bows. In my experience, the arrows pass right through. In the past, I have used this target for conventional bows with a draw weight of 35lbs or under. It is possible to add more mats to cope with higher draw weight bows. If you decide to do this you will have to see which arrangement works with your own archery set up. The only problem with thick matting is that it may prove difficult to remove your arrows. These targets are not bulky and relatively light
and are ideal for throwing in the car for an outdoor shoot. As with all outdoor
shooting, and especially on public land, please be aware of your surroundings and ensure no one is walking in the vicinity.
Bag Target No. 1  

For this target a large bag is required, the sort of bag used to transport grain or hay. Usually, they are composed of plasticised woven material, but the best bag for our  purpose is made from hessian (burlap). If you can get hold of one of these sacks, then do so as they are greatly superior to other types. Hessian bags are made with a large loose weave and arrows often just pass between the weave without damaging the strands, thus prolonging the life of the archery bag. Next, you need to source a  load of old clothes and rags. Any old clothes will do, just remember to remove any buttons and metallic fastenings. Simply stuff the bag with the clothes making sure to reach the corners. Keep on adding clothes until the bag is completely filled and compacted down. Once filled, tie up the end of the bag with string.

I usually tie a rubber mat on the bag in the middle area. This will allow you to pin a paper target  onto the surface of the mat with standard archery pins. Unlike the ‘rubber mat’  target previously described, this target is suitable for both recurve and compound bows. Because the filling is made of clothes it is not a good idea to leave the target out in the rain as it will eventually attract mould and smell abominable. Another downside is that the target is on the heavy side and will take up both backside seats  in your car. That said, even arrows shot from powerful bows are easily extracted with the lightest of touch.
Bag Target 2

This is my preferred type of target. Again it uses the resilient hessian sack, but
instead of filling the bag with clothes, you fill it with plastic bags and other plastic material. The best material is the plastic wrap that encloses wood pallets. Your local stores will be only too glad for you to take this material off their hands for free. You will need quite a lot of this material to stuff into the sack making sure that the plastic is highly compacted and then proceed as for bag target, 1. The target is light and very portable and arrows can be removed without effort. If you use a large hessian sack, the large volume and depth of the filled bag will make it suitable for high powered bows.

As for all homemade targets, it is a good idea to test the bag out  with varying draw weight bows in a safe environment. Obviously, the ability to retard
arrows will be highly dependent on the density of the filling. Over time as the filling settles, you may have to add more material. I have used this type of target for over a year and it is still going strong. When the hessian material becomes shredded simply transfer the innards to another bag. This target also has the added advantage of being very cheap to make. I only paid $NZ 4.60 for the bag. No further expense was necessary.

Clearly, there are other types of targets that can be self-manufactured. A simple Google search will unlock a wealth of simple and not simple designs. Some are more suitable for a static archery base and will require a modest expenditure. 

The great thing about homemade targets is that you can come with your own design to suit circumstances and budgets. The fun is in the experimentation. Good luck and happy shooting!