How to Build an Archery Target

How to Build an Archery Target

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For many people taking their first steps into archery and hunting, buying a target is a hefty cost. Most of the high-end models cost upwards of $100. This is especially true if you find a larger target the whole family can use.

Instead of investing in extra equipment apart from your crossbow, it is possible to create homemade targets. The only items you will have to buy are things you may not already have at home.

Below are two easy-to-follow guides to learn how to build an archery target.

First Method: Cardboard Box Target

This method is recommended for impromptu practice. It is not recommended that you keep this target outdoors, as it is prone to weathering.

Additionally, it may also not be the ideal process for crossbows with high rates of fire. With that being said, it’s the least expensive, perfect for children and teens, and is easy to put together.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

As with any process, you first need to gather the right materials. As mentioned, you likely already have most of the items needed at home. However, if not, they are easy to source from your local hardware store or department store.

What you will need for the cardboard box target is:

  • One 18”x18”x18” box: This box will be your main target. You will want to make sure it is large enough for better stopping power. Additionally, it should feature optimal surface area for drawing your targets.
  • Fill: You will also need access to fill material. The easiest fill is plastic or shrinkwrap, as they are inexpensive and take up space. However, you can also opt for a heavier material such as nylon or cotton batting.
  • Duct tape: Duct tape is another important aspect of the box, as it will be used to seal the sides.
  • Tarp: For added weatherproofing, you can affix a tarp to the outside of the box. This isn’t going to be as weatherproof as store-bought targets but can improve your target’s longevity.
  • Bright colored paints: Finally, you will need bright colored paints for your targets. It’s recommended that you use contrasting colors to make the target easier to see. Consider reds, yellows, oranges, whites, and blacks.

Step 2: Filling and Sealing the Target

The second step to learning how to build an archery target is to fill your box. Using the filling that you have chosen, make sure that you pack the box to its brim. If the material is plush, push down on the fill in order to fit more.

Remember, when the lid of the box is closed, the material will push down even further. Once you have fully packed the box, you can then use the duct tape to seal the lid.

Further, it’s recommended that you also seal the edges of the box as well. This helps to add to its overall durability but also prevents excessive moisture buildup.

Step 3: Covering the Box

You will now want to take the tarp and wrap it around the outside of the box. Using the duct tape, you can wrap the tarp tighter so that it doesn’t shift. As you will be drawing targets on the outside of the tarp, it doesn’t matter how much tape is used.

Step 4: Painting the Target

The final step of the process is to paint your target. If you want the circles to be perfect, you can use a household item, such as a bowl, to trace circles. You can also use a math compass to do so.

Once the targets have been traced, use the paint to color in the different rings of your targets. Allow ample time for the paint to try before using your target for the first time.

Step 5: Begin Practicing

You should now have a homemade target created. You can use your archery equipment to test the target accordingly. If you find that there isn’t enough stopping power, consider adding heavier fill. You may also want to consider anchoring the box for added durability.

Second Method: Wooden Archery Target

This method is recommended for individuals seeking a higher quality target. It will understandably cost slightly more but will last a far longer time. With the use of items designed to withstand a higher level of impact, it may be a more preferable method.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

For the wooden archery target, there are high-quality materials you will need to purchase. You will need to source:

  • One 2”x12” piece of lumber: You will be cutting the 2”x12” piece of lumber into four separate 2”x3” pieces. For outdoor ranges, it’s recommended you choose kiln dried boards. Alternatively, you can weatherproof traditional lumber.
  • Saw: You can choose between either an electrical or a manual saw. You will need this to cut the wood accurately.
  • Wood screws: In order to affix the target together, you will require wood screws for optimal durability. Additionally, you’ll need a drill.
  • Nylon window screen: You can also use chicken wire for this process. However, a nylon window screen helps to protect your arrows when they enter the target. It also makes the target more pliable for weaker bows.
  • Fill: Similar to the other method, you will require a fill of your choosing. Blankets, shredded rubber, clothing (without metal attachments), shrink wrap, and plastic bags are all great options.
  • Ground cloth or weed barrier: Instead of using a tarp, which may stain your arrows, consider using a ground cloth or a weed barrier to cover the target.

Step 2: Assembling the Frame

Now that you have all of the materials, you will need to use your saw and wood to cut four three-inch pieces of wood. If you have to weatherproof the wood, it’s recommended that you do so 24 hours in advance.

Once the wood has been cut, use your wood screws and drill to attach the sides together. 3.5” screws should be more than sufficient. Additionally, make sure that you use as many screws as possible to keep the frame together.

Step 3: Cutting a Fill Hole

The fill hole should be large enough for you to fit your entire hand inside of the box. This will be used for adding and removing stuffing as necessary. It’s also recommended that the hole is placed at the top of the target.

Step 4: Adding the Nylon Window Screen

At this point, you should have a fully constructed square. You can now use the nylon window screen and a staple gun to add the screen to the box. This will be used to keep your fill inside of the target. You’ll want to make sure that the screen is held taught while stapled for the best durability.

Step 5: Adding the Fill

Using the fill that you have chosen, begin to pack your target. You’ll want to make sure that you get as much material inside as possible. You can use a sledgehammer or another long tool to compress the fill as you add more.

Step 6: Stapling the Front Cover

Using the ground cloth or weed barrier and a staple gun, staple the material to the front of the box. Make sure there are approximately two inches of excess material from the edge of the box.

Similar to the wood screws, use as many staples as possible. Repeat this process for the back of the box as well, creating a uniform seal.

Step 7: Painting Your Target

This is dependent on personal preference, as you don’t have to follow through with this step. Using excess paint that you have around the house, you can paint additional targets. This can be useful for improving your precision as well as scoring points for at-home tournaments.

Final Thoughts

By using either of these two methods, you can construct your own targets at home. Though they won’t be as durable as professionally manufactured targets, they’re ideal for beginners. With a few simple items you likely have in your shed or garage, you can learn how to build an archery target.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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