Archery Practice: Setting up a Shooting Range

A backyard archery range is a real luxury for bowhunters. You can practice at your own pace, save some money on range fees and skip the drive. If you have the space – a backyard,  driveway, garage or even a basement –  setting up a do-it-yourself shooting range is easy, and can be done with minimal tools in just a weekend. The best way to find out if a range is legal in your community is to call the police department and ask about any ordinances.

The most important thing to remember is safety. Especially if you’re shooting in an urban area, ensure you’re always aware of your surroundings. Use hay bales or mats as a backstop to stop errant shots, and always be conscious of what’s downrange.

Arrow Backstop

If you live in a residential neighborhood with houses closeby, you need a safety stop for arrows that miss your target. The popular DIY option is buying one or two horse stall mats from Tractor Supply Company and building a frame out of 2x4s. You can also hang them from cables. 

When shooting in a more rural location, you may not need a safety stop. However, using the terrain to your advantage will make finding stray arrows easier. Whenever possible, shoot downward like you would from a treestand so arrows will stick out of the ground after a poor shot.

DIY Archery Targets

Homemade Archery Target

Field Point Target

People have been stacking bales of straw or hay to function as archery targets since Medieval times. Even with today’s fast-shooting bows, a densely packed hay bale will work as a reliable target. Below is a more modern take on a field point target, constructed out of lumber, carpet and threaded rod. This is not a target for broadheads.

In addition to the carpet target, stacking bales of straw or hay is always a good option. To make the target more realistic, attach a paper target with the vitals of the animal you’re after to the front.

Targets for Broadheads

There are a few different DIY broadhead target designs you can choose from. A simple design is stacking foam blocks together, as is demonstrated in the video below. There are several viable options out there, so we suggest checking out archery forums and choosing what works best for your budget and how durable you need the target to be.

There are plenty of affordable commercial options available that range from simple block designs to 3-D targets. Just keep in mind, repeatedly shooting broadheads at a target will dull the blades.

Yardage Markers

You can easily measure distances and mark them with a stake or flag, but when it comes time to mow the grass, you’ll need to move them. A more permanent solution is sinking a brick into the ground at certain intervals. Use spray paint to tag it with the yardage. As long as you position the bricks flush with the ground, the mower won’t hit it.

Bow Stand

While a bow stand isn’t necessary, it’s a practical accessory to avoid keeping your bow on the ground where it can get grimy. Commercial stands are widely available, but this DIY option made from PVC pipes is a quarter of the price. It holds your bow, arrows and even a cold beverage.