Several years ago I switched from shooting a shorter, more compact compound bow to the longer Olympic recurve bow. I loved the recurve’s graceful lines, but it presented some challenges. It was tall, it was unwieldy, and I had to be really careful when shooting it in tight spaces. If I wasn’t, I’d hit the ceiling.
At the time, I lived in a tiny condo in Connecticut. It had no basement, yard or garage, so shooting outdoors wasn’t an option – especially during snowy winters! Getting to the archery range every day was a challenge, but shooting my bow gave me a great upper-body workout and awesome mental-health benefits. What’s a girl to do?
I solved my problem by shooting indoors with an archery target that’s perfect for small spaces. I soon embraced 5-yard archery. That’s right. You don’t really need 20 yards or more to enjoy bows and arrows. You can get up close and personal with your target, and still get quality archery time.
You can take several routes to a DIY archery target:
- Super easy: Head to your local archery store and pick up a bag-style target. Tons of them are on the market. Just be sure your target is rated for the type of bow you shoot. I recommend a smaller, more compact target that costs about $35 to $50, a minor investment when you consider the convenience of shooting at home! Place your target on a flat, slightly elevated surface. An end-table does just fine. Confession: I rested mine on the guest bed, against the wall in the spare bedroom, and shot from the hallway about five yards away.
- Handyman special: Cardboard boxes are your friends. This is a longer-term project if you want to save money, but the results are worth it. First build a wooden frame that will hold square pieces of flattened cardboard. The dimensions are up to you, but you’ll want a target frame that can hold a cardboard piece measuring about 18 by 18 inches. You’ll want to collect as many pieces of flattened cardboard as possible, and cut them to the width and depth of your target frame. Once you have the cardboard pieces ready, stack and compress them with a ratchet strap. This target will handle shooting from recurve bows and compounds up to 45 pounds.
- Rag bag: With a foam plank and lots of old clothes, you can make a target that will stand up to pretty much anything. Using the same wooden frame above, you’ll compress rags instead of cardboard into that small space. Old clothes, sheets and towels are perfect for target stuffing. Once you’re ready to stuff your target, you’ll “face” the front of it with a foam plank, which can be found online. The foam will cost some money, but this durable target rarely needs refacing. We recommend the same poundage limits for this type of target.
Any of these targets can be shot from close range (as little as 8 to 10 feet!), and all of them will bring you much enjoyment as you shoot in your garage, basement or spare bedroom. Common sense is important: Make sure access to your shooting area is limited, so pets and people can’t unknowingly walk onto your makeshift range. You’ll want to use these targets once you’re proficient enough with your bow to hit the target consistently from the distance you’re shooting. Elevate your target enough that it’s comfortable to shoot. And last, print a target face to put on top of your target. That gives you something fun to aim at!