Backyard Target Archery

To some people archery may seem to be a lost art form, or at least the hobby of the eccentric. However what if I told you that not only is archery is not only alive and well but one of the most accessible hobbies and sports around? I will show you how to setup a simple archery target and range in your backyard that will give you years of enjoyment and exercise without straining your wallet.

There are several types of archers in the modern world. The two primary groups are Bow Hunters and Target Archers. While these two groups will have several things in common the equipment that is used can be wildly different. For the most part Target Archers do not concern themselves with holds, releases, sights or camouflage equipment. Those are specialized pieces of equipment that aid Bow Hunters move and shoot as silently and efficiently as possible. Target Archers are more concerned with long range accuracy or historical accuracy. The group we are primarily interested in is a subset of the Target Archer, the Backyard Archer.

The Backyard Archer requires even less equipment than the Target Archer. Most people’s backyards are not large enough to contain extremely long ranges. As such most of the incredibly high quality and balanced equipment available for sale will not give a sufficiently large benefit in relation to the cost. If you are fortunate enough to live in close proximity to a large sporting goods store then chances are that you will be able to find everything that you need in their archery department. Otherwise you will be able to order everything you need from any reputable archery supply company you can find on the internet or mail order catalog.

The basic equipment you will need is a target, a bow, and some arrows. The target you can make yourself out of a hay bale or stack of cardboard if you have that available. Otherwise you can pick up very decent targets for relatively little cost at sporting goods and archery supply stores. Make sure that the target you purchase is in fact for archery. Pellet and BB gun targets may look similar to archery targets but they cannot stand up to repeated arrow shots without “chunking” or tearing. Another thing to keep in mind is that most targets are meant for “field point” rather than “broadhead” arrow points. Make sure that your arrow points match the target or you will dramatically lower the usable life of the target.

Your bow purchase does not need to be expensive. Often times you can find very decent and usable bows for sale at garage sales. If you do purchase a used bow I recommend avoiding wooden long bows. They may look wonderful but they have very particular care requirements that if not met can make the bow dangerous to string and fire. If purchasing a new bow you have three main choices; Longbow, Recurve, or Compound.

Longbows are essentially very long sticks that can be strung and bent. They can be made from one piece of wood or several. These are the classic bows that have been in existence since the dawn of civilization. The advantage of a longbow is that they have real historical significance and require more skill to fire. You can find incredibly high draw weight in longbows which is a measure of the amount of force required to pull back the bow and directly translates into shooting power. Longbows must be fitted to the shooter as one that is too tall can be cumbersome to fire.

Recurve bows are generally much shorter than Longbows but can carry the same, or even more power. The ends of the bows are leaflike and bent at odd, almost backward, angles. When strung they resemble a normal bow shape and the extra bend at the ends provide power. The advantage to Recurves is that they are smaller and can usually be found for much lower price than Longbows. Most Recurves are factory made rather than handmade so you do not have to learn the individual bow quite as much when shooting with different recurves. Some Recurve models can even be disassembled into smaller components for storage and travel.

Compound bows resemble the size of a strung recurve, but they usually cannot be unstrung. They typically have two to four pulleys and a cable string. These bows can pack an incredible amount of power in a small frame. The addition of pulleys enable the shooter to draw with much more strength than would be otherwise possible or comfortable. These are the bows that are generally used for hunting as you can keep it strung and drawn for extended periods of time. Except for the the lowest end of these types of bows they would be considered “overkill” for backyard archery.

The arrows that you choose are mostly dependent on the bow that you have. Arrows must match weight, strength and length with the bow so that they can be shot safely and reduce the risk of shattering. You do not need to purchase the most expensive name brand arrows here. Any decent and matched carbon arrows will do just fine for your backyard target archery. Do not forget to also purchase your arrow points as the arrow cannot be safely or accurately shot without them.

Optional equipment that you may wish to purchase at a later date are a bracer and gloves. These prevent any welts and bruises from drawing and firing the string. After a few dozen shots you will be able to tell if you need any of these protective devices or not.

Once you have your equipment you simply need to setup a small target range in your backyard. It does not matter if the range is 10 yards or 100. You will need to ensure that there is something behind your target that will block the arrows in the event that you miss the target. Always think about the 50 yards behind your target and ensure that any missed arrows will not damage property or injure any humans or animals.

Now that you have your range and equipment you will be able to enjoy as many hours a week of enjoyable and private shooting as your endurance allows. You will find that some small muscles in your back and arms will be sore at first, as most people who are not archers do not regularly exercise these specific muscle groups. Depending on your gender, age, and weight you can burn a significant number of calories shooting and fetching your arrows. At a certain point most archers decide to purchase more arrows so that they have to return to the target less often and can shoot more.

Regardless of your budget or space constraints you can setup a backyard archery target that will give you years of enjoyment and exercise. You will join the ranks of archers that have formed an unbroken line since the down of time. Your target archery skills will improve and you will get to spend more time outdoors, who could ask for more?

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