If your eager to start archery you’d be forgiving for assuming that the bow and arrow are the single most important pieces of equipment. You can shoot without a target, but you can’t shoot without a bow and arrow.
Archery targets can run very expensive, especially when compared to the free options of hay bales and cardboard. However, archery target are expensive for a reason, and they’re worth spending a bit extra on.
Think of all the money you spent on good arrows. You don’t want that to be wasted because all you’re using for target practice is things you’ve found around the house.
Archery targets may be expensive, but they have to withstand a lot. If you’re serious about archery, a target is a necessary investment.
Why are archery targets so expensive?
The most important reason archery targets are expensive is durability. An archery target needs to be able to withstand being repeatedly hit with force. A cheap foam target will break quickly under regular use. The more expensive targets use better wood and, very importantly, better foam.
Many targets also contain ‘self-healing foam, an expensive but important component. The self-healing foam collapses in on itself when the arrow is removed, leaving your target ready to withstand another hit.
If you’re a regular user, in the long run spending more money upfront will work out cheaper. And you won’t be consistently frustrated by needing to purchase a new target.
Another important reason for the expense is stopping power. The target needs to stop your arrow, which is travelling at force. A poor quality board will offer little resistance.
If an arrow hits a surface too soft it will travel right through. Too hard, and it may shatter. An expensive board will also be easier to pull arrows from, saving you time and effort.
Archery targets need to be big as well, especially for beginners. A weak shot will miss a small board, whereas a large board is more likely to be hit. This will make it easier to see your own progress, and where to make improvements.
Finally, a good target will reflect the quality of your arrows. By spending the money, you ensure not only that your board lasts a long time, but also your arrows are less likely to be damaged.
What is the best archery target?
There are 4 main types of archery target. The bag, the block, the 3D model, and the bullseye. The bullseye is the traditional model, and often the most expensive. However, it’s best for accuracy, and can stand many uses. A good bullseye is the Bear Archery Foam Target. If you want to train for accuracy, this is a great option.
The bag is normally the cheapest option. Transportable, weather resistant, and easy to hang, the bag is ideal for beginners. However, the target are often smaller. The Morrell Yellow Jacket Supreme 3 Field Point Bag is a fantastic option for newcomers, or those who like to have fun shooting.
If you want something portable, the block is probably your best option. The blocks are traditionally made of foam, light enough that they’re easy to move but strong enough to withstand repeated hits.
A good block is the Block Classic. This clever design uses friction rather than force to stop an arrow, leaving it stronger for longer. The Rinehart Rhino Block Target is an expensive but highly durable option.
The final option is a 3D target. These are used by hunters, as they are shaped to look like an animal. If you’re interested in archery for hunting, these are the very best option to get.
The Shooter Buck 3D Deer archery target is one of the best on the market, as it comes with a replaceable core for repeated use. Some 3D options can become very expensive, but they’re worth it if you want to hunt.
Can a bale of hay stop an arrow?
Yes, a bale of hay can stop an arrow, but it needs to be tightly baled. Both hay bales and grass bales can be used as cheap targets for archery practice.
A hay bale will need to be regularly ‘fluffed’, to keep the materials evenly distributed. They do start to degrade fast with regular use. Other homemade options include tree stumps, sand piles, compressed carpet, cardboard, or even bags of tightly stuffed old clothes.
On the surface, these may seem like better options for practice over an expensive target. However, these options are more likely to damage your arrows quickly.
Pulling an arrow from a hay bale may leave it covered in dirt and grime. They also won’t withstand much use. A homemade target will need to have regular maintenance, as they don’t have the same ‘bounce back’ properties as foam.