Backyard archery

Backyard Archery – Do Try This at Home

Most beginner archers start their archery journey in the backyard. Backyard archery is becoming ever more popular as more and more people want to get started in the world of the bow and arrow. Backyard archery appeals to beginners for several reasons.

  • The beginner can build confidence and hone their skills before joining clubs or competing.
  • Convenience. Having a backyard archery range at your home makes it convenient to practice.
  • Getting all of the equipment together and setting everything up is relatively simple and cheap.

This article explores some basic considerations and recommendations with regard to setting up a backyard archery range and starting to practice.

Nothing New

People have been practicing archery for thousands of years. Before the archer was thrown into a hunting party or a military expedition, they were required to practice. For many students of the art of archery, the practice range was in or around their homes. If you plan on setting up a backyard archery range and begin practicing, you are following a very old tradition, which was practiced for millennia.

Safety Concerns/Guidelines

Alright, so we got the boring but necessary legalities out of the way. Now, another important aspect of practicing archery responsibly, on a range or anywhere, is the issue and concern of safety. You will seek the elimination of the possibility of stray arrows causing damage to lifeforms and/or property.

Ideally, your property should be fenced in unless you are in a rural area with lots of open lands. The fencing should be solid (without any holes or large openings) and relatively tall (once again see bylaws of your area). The fencing will act as another layer of protection from stray arrows. It will also keep your archery range from easily being seen by nosy neighbors, even if you are following all the laws. Some people, understandably, just don’t like the idea of arrows flying around the neighborhood.

Backyard Archery Range Design & Setup

As previously mentioned, safety will be your number one consideration when actually setting up the range layout. Assuming the ideal situation, with lots of wooded land around your property, adequate fencing, and a lack of neighbors, here are the next items you may want to consider when setting up your backyard archery range:

  • What distance do you want to shoot at? Target archery distances vary at a competitive level. An indoor archery range is typically between 18 and 25 meters in length. Outdoor shooting distances vary considerably between 30 to 90 meters. Olympic target archery ranges are 70 meters in length. If you are just a beginner, consider starting closer to the target. Greater distances can increase the chance of stray arrows.
  • What kind of target do you want to shoot at? We will discuss good candidates for potential backyard archery targets in the following section.
  • How many lanes do you want your archery range to have? Just like a bowling alley, an archery range can accommodate several archers at the same time. This can make it fun when you have fellow archers over for a casual shoot or perhaps a friendly competition.

Backyard Archery Backstop

An archery range backstop helps mitigate the risk of stray arrows. The backstop is simply placed behind the target and absorbs arrows that have not met their mark. A good backstop also helps ensure that stray arrows are not damaged or lost. A wide range of backstop materials and designs are available for purchase and construction.

Backstop Options/Considerations:

  • Use the natural environment. Can the archery target be placed in front of a hill or some other natural feature to ensure stray arrows do not endanger people or property?
  • The next simplest option would be a pile of dirt, hay, or other material that is of sufficient size to help absorb stray arrows.
  • Construct a wooden wall. There are several videos on how to construct a backyard archery backstop out of wood available on YouTube. Ensure that the wooden structure is large enough to cover a decent area behind the target. A five by five (5 x 5) meter wooden wall, placed about a meter back from the intended target is a good reference.
  • Bales of hay! You can get them from some garden centers or you could make some connections with the country folk. They usually have hay in the country. Basically, hay lives in the countryside. Hay is relatively cheap and you’ll be able to pick some up for 5 – 10 dollars USD. Hay bales come in a few different sizes and packaging. Some are wrapped in plastic while others are just compressed into shape and left unwrapped. Bales of hay behind the target make a cheap yet efficient backstop. Roughly 5 x 5 meters of high approximately one meter behind the target should be adequate.
  • Old carpet. Linoleum flooring also makes a good backstop material in my experience. You may need the use a couple of layers for it to be really effective. Constructing a frame out of wood or PVC piping and hanging your layers of carpet or flooring on it is also a cheap yet effective way to mitigate stray arrows.
  • Professional archery backstop materials. There are plenty of already made-for-you options available. Backstop netting is also something to consider. Check out these options.

Backyard Archery Targets

What are you actually going to practice shooting on? A wide variety of archery targets are available on the market these days, or you could make your very own out of a suitable material. Here are some options and considerations:


If you are tight on a budget and are a handy, do-it-yourself kind of person, making the archery target for yourself may be a good option. The materials used in constructing the backstop are also viable candidates for the target itself. Bales of hay are the cheapest one of the cheapest and easiest to obtain/set up. Carpeting and linoleum flooring is also potentially a good option.

Then, you can purchase target face sheets of all types online, or at your local sporting goods store, and stick them onto your homemade target. Viola! You now have an archery target ready to be shot at.

Hunting or Target Archery?

Why are you practicing archery? Do you want to have a fun hobby and get good at shooting targets? Or do you eventually want to go hunting? If you are interested in hunting with your bow, three-dimensional (3D) targets would be ideal to practice with.



3D targets come in a variety of forms, usually made in the likeness of common game animals such as deer, turkeys, rabbits, etc. Three-dimensional targets are also available in a variety of other fun forms like zombies, dinosaurs, and other fantastical creatures. There is a plethora of fun and interesting 3D targets to choose from.

If your main or only focus in archery is target shooting, there are many high quality, durable targets available for purchase at