What is a Backstop?
As the name suggests, backstops stand behind your targets to stop stray arrows from going completely rogue. Sometimes, a poor shot can fly off into the distance and be hard to recover or even damage property. Backstops help eliminate this.
You can buy backstops from most stores that sell archery equipment, but it’s easy and cheap to make your own if you have the time. Some of the most effective backstops are heavy tarps, foam boards, or even repurposed rugs rigged on homemade stands.
Archers around the world have proven themselves to be pretty creative when it comes to DIY backstops. Read on for more information about creating your own archery backstops.
Also, if you are looking for top recommendations on target arrows for compound bows, check out our research here.
When to Use Backstops
Most ranges and archery clubs employ backstops to an extent. They come in handy when space is limited or if there is property nearby that you don’t want stray arrows flying into. A lot of archers will even practice their aim in their backyard with targets. If you’re practicing in the backyard, backstops will keep arrows from flying into neighbors' yards and possibly causing serious damage.
Beginners especially will want to use these to keep their arrows confined to their practice space. Archers who are just starting out might find that their aim is less than accurate. Stray arrows can ruin your day and your experience with the sport if they cause damage or injure someone.
Making Your Own Backstops
Backdrops secure the practice area and keep things safe and fun. Here are a few ways for you to make your own backstops:
PVC Pipes and Foam
This is a popular, low-cost method that’s pretty successful at stopping rogue arrows. When you use PVC pipes to create your own backstop, you can make it as big or small as you want, depending on the size of the pipes. Make one huge stopper, or make numerous tiny ones to place around the range.
You can buy PVC pipes at your local hardware store for a reasonable price. The best PVC pipe thickness to use is 2-4 inches in diameter. Make sure to get some elbows when you buy the piping to help you put the frame together.
Elbows will connect the pipes and allow you to build a sturdy, 3-D support frame. Thick foam or a horse mat can be secured in the middle of the pipes to stop the arrows. You can use zip ties to keep the foam attached to the pipes.
You’ll want to make the frame mostly square but able to stand up on its own, so include a strong base. You may want to weigh the base down with sandbags or another weighted material.
Wood and Nails
A wooden frame is just as sturdy as PVC, and may be even stronger since the extra weight will increase stability. Remember, you’re shooting arrows near these, so backdrops need to be able to hold up against powerful shots.
A wooden frame can support a lot of materials to use as the netting area. Foam, thick mats, and plywood are all good stoppers that will be effective against your arrows.
There are plenty of bulky objects that can be used to block stray arrows. Some people have used bales of hay stacked into a barricade to stop missed shots. Old car mats, pool noodles, and rugs also can be secured onto a frame and do a great job as a backstop.
Just be sure that your do-it-yourself backdrop is sturdy and can withstand multiple blows. It also needs to be large enough to be effective. Whatever you use to create the stopper must be big, bulky, and strong to hold up against impact and natural wear and tear.
Our Conclusion? Backdrops are for Everyone
Whether you are shooting on 3-D targets or flat ones, backdrops are a necessary part of your archery setup. They stop arrows from flying too far away, saving you steps and energy when you track down your missed shots.
They also protect you from causing damage to other people’s property, especially if you are practicing near a residential area or one with lots of foot traffic. A stopper will also block your rogue shots from hitting someone and causing them physical harm.
It’s always a good idea to be safe rather than sorry. With a few simple steps and a small budget, you can create your own backdrops to ensure that none of these problems befall you when you’re practicing archery. Make your own backstop and sustain your hobby by completing the job on your own.