Building the Ultimate Backyard Archery Range on a Budget

Have You Already Created One?

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Back Stops

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1 | Back Stops

Safety should always be the No. 1 priority when shooting any weapon. Practicing with a bow in the backyard is no exception. Create a backstop to ensure that arrows that may miss the target don’t create a dangerous situation or end up where they don’t belong. Back stops can be made of any material that will arrest an arrow beyond the target. One of the most effective and affordable materials for back stops is a rubber mat used for horse stalls. These mats can be suspended from a cross beam attached to two posts. Stall mats work well at absorbing the energy of an arrow and stopping it but are forgiving enough that they generally won’t negatively impact the arrows integrity.

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Homemade Targets

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2 | Homemade Targets

The biggest cost factor cost when building an archery range is the number and type of targets that are selected. Making your own targets can significantly reduce overall cost while providing a target that will last for years. There are several ways targets can be constructed, but the best option I’ve found is the carpet target. These targets are made by stacking uniform strips of carpet and then compressing them tightly together. The result is a target well-suited for backyard shooting. While a large carpet target can be very difficult to move, they can hold up to countless arrows, last for years outside, and make for easy arrow removal.

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Target Seconds

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3 | Target Seconds

Home-built targets work great for filling the majority of a backyard archery range, but no ultimate backyard range would be complete without one or two 3D targets. When trying to construct a backyard range on a budget, 3D targets can take a deep dip out of the financial pool. One of the best ways I’ve found to save money when purchasing 3D archery targets is by seeking targets with blemishes in the finish (or seconds). These targets may have imperfections in the foam they are made of or in the paint they are often detailed with. Savings can be significant when comparing one of these blemished targets to their market-place-ready counterparts. However, after a few shooting sessions, the imperfections in these targets will likely not even be noticeable. Early spring seems to be the best time to take advantage of target manufacturers off-loading 3D seconds. These targets can be found through discount outdoor gear retailers or by contacting target manufacturers directly.

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2D Target Faces

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4 | 2D Target Faces

A backyard range stocked with long-lasting carpet and bag targets is great, but for a bowhunter, shooting at spots can grow old. A very cost-effective solution is the use of 2D animal targets. These 2D paper targets are cheap and make it possible to shoot at an ever-changing array of animals. The downside to paper targets is their inability to holdup to weather and repetitive shooting. A solid option for 2D targets with much better longevity than paper is flexible, plastic animal targets. These targets can last for a season or better when left outside and withstand a countless number of shots. Another upside to these plastic 2D animal targets is their photo-realistic image and life-size scale. In many ways, shooting these targets can be more realistic for bowhunting practice than 3D targets and at a much lower cost.

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Make a Bow Stand

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5 | Make a Bow Stand

Having a place for you, your friends, and family to hang your bows during a practice session is an important component to any well-rounded range. Setting a bow on the ground while pulling arrows can open the door for gear to be stepped on or damaged in other ways. Building a bow stand doesn’t need to be a complicated project, simply sinking a post into the ground and screwing in a few bow hangers will do the trick. One of the best types of bow stands that I’ve made is constructed with PVC pipe. These bow stands are sturdy enough to hold a few bows and are easily movable when changing shooting positions and for mowing.

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Shoot from Above

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6 | Shoot from Above

Shooting in a flat backyard environment makes for comfortable and convenient practice sessions. However, shooting from a fully upright position while standing on flat ground isn’t a common occurrence while in the field. For whitetail hunters who typically hunt from an elevated position, practicing from a treestand is a must. Setting up a stand on a backyard archery range is an easy task and adds another element to practice sessions. When shooting from a stand on the range, be sure to use a lifeline for safety purposes and an EZ-Hanger to stow your bow while retrieving arrows.

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Broadhead Approved

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7 | Broadhead Approved

Shooting broadheads is a must to ensure your hunting setup is dialed in before the season. No backyard range would be complete without a broadhead-approved target. These types of targets aren’t overly expensive but extending the life of a broadhead target can easily be done. Instead of shooting a broadhead-approved target with practice tips throughout the year, leave them only for broadhead tuning and practice.

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Are you a bowhunter wanting to learn how to accomplish your goals? Check out our stories, videos and hard-hitting how-to's on bowhunting.

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Bowhunting and archery are disciplines that require routine practice. Unlike range-time with firearms, practicing with a bow or crossbow can be done in a wide array of places. Archery ranges, 3D and field archery courses can be found across the country. Visiting one of these establishments can provide added challenge and fun to your practice routine, but traveling to a range to shoot typically isn’t necessary unless you live in an urban area. Practicing at home can be done indoors in a basement or garage, but when it comes to recreational archery practice, the backyard is king. All that’s required to start shooting is a target, but if you take archery practice seriously, there are ways to improve your home range without breaking the bank. Below we’ll look at how to build the ultimate backyard archery range on a budget.