What would archery be without a target for the bow? Although it is possible to shoot at other targets, such as 3D targets or straw bags, the archer usually wants a real bow target for archery. In our guide we describe the different types of targets commonly used in archery, and also provide you with instructions for building your own target.
The Different Types of Targets for Archery
Actually, it’s quite simple: A target for the bow is used to score points in archery. The closer the arrow is to the center, the more points the archer gets. Right?
One aspect is often forgotten: Targets must also be designed in such a way that the arrow fired – regardless of what material it is made of! – can easily penetrate the target without suffering any damage. Furthermore, the target must be of a suitable size. A target with a diameter of just five centimeters is no help to anyone. The correct angle of inclination is also important. In addition, the archer must be able to remove his arrows without damaging them; this is especially important when shooting with aluminum arrows.
A wide variety of targets made of different materials and in different sizes are available on the market. The following materials are frequently used:
- Unpressed straw
In the following we will discuss the pros and cons of the different materials. You can also build a target yourself, and in the penultimate section we explain how to do this.
In principle, the term archery target can refer to any type of target, no matter what material it is made of. This term is mainly used to describe the target in which your arrows get stuck after you shoot them, and does not include the stand or any equipment.
Classic targets are mainly made of straw or hay. Foam is also widely used nowadays, although it is not very durable. Materials such as cardboard or fabric are also suitable for do-it-yourself construction. More about this later.
In some cases a target support is applied to a round target made of straw or Karphos. Certain clamps are used for this. The diameter of the target as well as the support depends on the distance from which the target is being fired at. The diameter is usually between sixty and eighty centimeters, but there are also those with a diameter of only forty to 120 centimeters.
The beginner should first use as large a target as possible and also hang an arrow catch behind it, otherwise the long search for arrows in the bushes is imminent. There is also a considerable risk of injury to neighbors or animals in the vicinity. Furthermore, you certainly don’t want every second arrow to miss and break on the garage wall behind it.
By the way, complete target sets are also available, which include an archery target, a suitable stand and several editions.
Straw targets are the classic bow and arrow targets. When you think of a target for archery, you probably have exactly this kind of target in mind.
Straw discs consist of bundled straw and are suitable for weak to medium-strength bows. Therefore they are also a good material for the children’s bow. Straw discs are quite cheap to buy, but not quite as durable, because the arrows that are pulled out can damage the straw. For a beginner with an appropriate bow – not a compound bow! – these targets are ideal.
Foam / Karphos Targets
If you prefer to use a foam target, you should consider the draw weight of your bow. Foam is not as durable and long lasting as pressed straw and can be quickly damaged by a bow with a high draw weight.
Ethafoam targets are also made of foam. Therefore they are extremely light and can be easily converted by individual archers. They are well suited for quick assembly and disassembly, but compound archers should prefer to use a different material, as their arrows could cause far too much damage to the Ethafoam target – see above. Furthermore, these targets are more expensive than Stramit targets. On top of this, they are not UV-resistant and are therefore only of limited use outdoors.
Karphos or Stramit is a material suitable for medium to high-strength bows. Targets made of Karphos, i.e. pressed straw, are used relatively often, as this material has optimal characteristics. It slows down every arrow, even if they are fired from a compound bow. Plus it is not too expensive and quite durable. Since straw is pressed straw, it is easy to dispose of: just use it as lighting material for the next campfire. This also means that Karphos discs are not weatherproof. So be careful when shooting outside!
There is another disadvantage: These bow and arrow targets are very heavy and can difficult to move around by an individual. However, this does not mean that a Stramit target cannot fall on your foot when you pull out your arrows. So you should be very careful about your safety – buy a sturdy stand and keep a close eye on the bow hunting targets when you pull your arrows!
Targets for Children’s Bows
Targets for children’s bows are often not only available individually, but also as a complete set with matching bows and arrows. Sometimes it is the toddler version – arrows with suction cups, or very soft and bendable rubber tips, which are shot at a corresponding target.
However, there are also real arrows that drill into the target and are not suitable for small children. In this case, safety must be taken into account! Never leave your child unattended with a bow and arrow!
Normally children’s bows do not have a very high draw weight. Therefore targets for children’s bows are usually made of foam. This also means that the child can adjust the bow target itself, as it is very light.
The Shooting Bag
The shooting bag is a simple bag made of cotton or jute, filled with straw, foam cubes, or old rags. It can still be painted, either with an animal or another motif. You can, of course, attach target overlays to it.
The advantage of this is obvious: You can use old materials that are very cheap or even lie in your basement for free. Moreover, you can personalize the shooting bag, i.e. you can fill it with different materials so that it fits your needs perfectly.
Shooting dice are a rather ingenious invention. These are multi-sided dice with many different motifs that can be shot from all angles. If you feel like shooting at a smaller or larger target, just turn the cube around to make it fit your current needs. This has another advantage: The sides of the cube that are not used are spared, making the shooting cube a very durable target.
These cube targets are available in different materials, a special foam for example, which closes almost completely after an arrow has been removed. Some of them are also suitable for self-repair, as you can fill them with filling material yourself.
The disadvantage is that these dice are obviously very expensive. So if you only want to shoot a few arrows every now and then, buying a shooting dice is not worthwhile.
3D targets are lifelike replicas of wild animals that you can shoot at. They look lifelike and can be found in special courses. These targets are usually too expensive for the individual, but if you are willing to invest something for that special fun, you can of course buy these in the animal shape that pleases you the most.
3D targets are a wonderful way to feel like a real hunter without hurting live animals. You should always try 3D archery, because using lifelike targets in the wild makes for a special feel to the game.
Building a Target Yourself
Would you like to build a target for archery yourself? Then follow our self-build instructions for a target!
You can build a very simple target yourself by gluing several layers of sturdy cardboard one behind the other. However, this construction method is not very durable. The durability can be improved by stuffing filling material between the cardboard plates and then pressing them together with a homemade frame. Use threaded rods and tighten the nuts as much as you need, because this way you can retighten the target again and again and use different filling material in between.
There are downloadable target editions on the Internet that can be printed out. You can also stick these on your self-built target. However, you should not use these as a target on their own, because paper is much too thin to withstand the force of an arrow. The arrow would simply go through the paper. The paper template is suitable for sticking on a homemade target.
Questions and Answers
Which Target is the Right One?
This is, as with many things in archery, partly a matter of taste. If you like traditional archery, use a straw target. Straw targets are especially appropriate for long archers. Otherwise, please refer to our target guide, which explains the pros and cons of the materials. When using a compound bow, pay attention to the draw weight of your bow!
How Thick Should a Target Be?
As far as the thickness of the target is concerned, you have to consider the draw weight of your bow as well as the spin, i.e. the hardness of your arrows. The arrows should neither pass smoothly through the target nor be damaged by it. For most of the available targets, you can find information about the weight of the bow in the shops.
What is the Optimal Size for a Target?
The optimal target size depends on your bow, the discipline and the distance you shoot. If you are unsure, it is best to ask the manufacturer. If you are a beginner, choose a large archer target. Slowly approach smaller diameters.
A standard diameter is sixty centimeters.
We hope you were able to build a target for archery yourself with our instructions or at least find your way through the jungle of available targets. Enjoy your archery adventures!