If you love shooting your bow, you’ll make archery more fun and convenient than ever with a backyard target range. Backyard ranges are possible in cities or in rural areas. Besides making archery more accessible, they help sharpen your skills year-round.
Before stepping outside with your new target and dialing in, keep a few considerations in mind.
Local Regulations and Ordinances
Some communities do not allow citizens to discharge “weapons” inside the city or town, and that sometimes includes archery equipment. Visit your town hall or contact its law-enforcement office. They’ll help you understand how and where you can practice. If shooting outdoors isn’t allowed where you live, they’ll help you find an alternative location, such as a range or archery shop. And if space allows, you could create a safe range inside your garage or basement.
Build a Backstop
After you confirm you can shoot in your backyard, it’s time to get to work. You must first build a backstop to “catch” arrows that miss the target. A backstop is the most critical part of every backyard range. Backstops prevent errant arrows from damaging property or injuring people or pets. Hay bales are a practical and affordable option. Stack them at least 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide to create a large margin for error. Depending on their thickness, plywood or densely compressed foam plastic also stop arrows and generally last longer than hay bales.
No matter what your backstop, always follow general safety rules to further ensure your practice sessions remain fun. Never shoot toward houses, sidewalks or other areas frequented by people. Always be sure of your target and what lies beyond.
Pick a Target
When choosing a target, you’ll usually consider two models: bags or foam blocks. Bag targets are lightweight and feature easy arrow removal. Bags, however, offer only two-sided shooting and generally don’t last as long as foam blocks, which provide heavy-duty performance and multiple shooting faces. However, larger block models can be bulky and cumbersome, which is an important factor if you must haul your target in and out each time you practice.
Shooting habits and interests help dictate your target choice. If you often shoot broadheads or you want a long-lasting target, consider buying a foam model. If you shoot low-poundage gear and field-points or target-points, and want a lightweight target, a bag model is likely right.
Keep it Fun
Some targets have game faces that are perfect for friendly backyard contests between two archers. Tic-tac-toe, best arrow, and archery baseball are all fun competitions that bring out the best in most participants. Be creative with your archery games. Try assigning point values to shapes on the target. The smaller the shape, the more points it’s worth. Whoever has the most points after a few rounds wins. Maybe the loser washes the dishes or pays for dinner. If you find yourself burning out on traditional practice, backyard archery games might cure you by restoring the fun.
No matter where you live, convenient archery ranges are likely easier to create than you think. By learning local rules and ordinances, creating a backstop, and picking the right target, you’ll spend more time shooting than you ever thought possible by simply stepping out your back door.