How to Build an Archery Target for a Compound Bow (Step By Step Guide)

Well, I know one thing for sure, archery is a fun and enjoyable activity that anyone can take part in.

And one of my favorite past times is this sport. I may not be that good at it, yet there is nothing similar to shooting an arrow at a target after a long exhausting week (or even a day). Plus, the health benefits that come with archery as well.

Nevertheless, as archery is a fun sport that anyone can indulge in, you’ll need to practice to become adroit at this sport. Whether you be a novice or a professional, to fine-tune and hone your skills as well as maintain your accuracy, practice is imperative, and for that, you’ll need an archery target.

Speaking of which, it can prove to be really expensive to purchase an archery target from your nearby store. However, if you’re willing to splurge for pre-made targets, you can certainly jaunt down the aisle to your local sporting good store.

That said, since they are sort of costly, this expense is only elevated when you’ve to replace the target after shooting repeatedly and keep replacing it over and over again. And something tells me that it’s not a fun way to enjoy this amusing ancient sport.

Therefore, I decided to make an archery target by myself and give it a shot. Yet, to my surprise, not only is this target cheap, but also I’ve made it from items that I mostly found around my house.

See, the thing about archery targets is, when accessing an archery range that is out of your reach, the backyard archery target thrives.

So if you are ready and excited to make an archery target for your compound bow that can take all the beating without beating up your arrows, I’d suggest keep scrolling.

A Little Something About Archery Targets

Just like any other archery equipment, there are different types of archery targets, and before moving on to pertinent questions, it’s essential to understand the nitty-gritty of these targets.

Therefore, one of the main things you need to comprehend is that commercial targets are segregated into four categories. Learning the basics of each target will help you determine which one is better for you.

Paper Targets

Paper Targets

By far, the most simplistic target of all is the paper target. However, you’ll need a backdrop for these targets.

Paper targets are easily doable and can even be purchased online. The target is easy to make and affordable to buy, so you’ll have no trouble dealing with these targets.

That said, it also depends on the backdrop you are using. Backdrop simply means the part that will absorb all the damage that your flying arrow outputs and target is more for your vision.

You can run one paper target each session or more, depending on how good your backdrop is and how many hours you’ve put in.

Keeping that in mind, if you wish to get a premade version for these targets, they are readily available on Amazon and in sporting goods stores.

Bag Targets

Bag Targets

Bag targets can quickly stop your arrows without a hitch, that’s because they are sewn with synthetic fiber filling. And if you are using field points, such a design can help with the easy removal of arrows.

The best thing about this bag is that they are more rigid and durable to last long. They can easily take all the beating your arrows have to offer with full force. And for this reason, they are also an excellent archery target for crossbows.

Since you can practice on multiple different sides, meaning you can practice on the four different bullseye styles. This way, you can not only mix up your daily practice routine but also improve your accuracy in different types.

The only snag that I found in this type of target is that they are heavy and aren’t weatherproof. So if you are practicing on an outdoor range, you’ll have to lug your bag target in and out.

And you should aim not to expose these targets in the rain as it can deteriorate the bag, but you’ll have to deal with heavy lifting.

Bag targets are excellent targets if you get past the heavy lifting and weather resistance part. That said, you can also get these targets that have more weather-resistant material.

Block Targets

Block Targets

Block targets or sometimes referred to as foam targets are made from many layers of foam, which are then propped on a stand that makes it a block target.

You think of block targets as classic ones for the backyard training and excellent for beginners as it is hard to mess up.

Not only that, the technology used in such a target has come a long way as well; for instance, the self-healing foam enhances the longevity of your target significantly, making it an excellent option for a broadhead target.

Typically, you’ll have to pinch the arrow between the layers of the foam to work with this type of target. The target works by using resistance rather than force to stop the energy of your arrow.

A drawback with block targets is that it very well may be challenging to separate the arrows if they get immersed profoundly.

These targets are durable and long-lasting, but they can restrict you to a mundane practice session.

3D Targets

3D Targets

When it comes to honing your hunting or archery skills, 3D targets are the best, much more realistic, and fun way to practice.

3D targets are more like block targets, where they have a replaceable core that facilitates a better and longer lifespan.

Keep in mind that using a broadhead arrow on these targets can make a tricky removal if it gets stuck deep into the core.

What’s more, to up the fun factor, these targets are readily available in many different types of animals. You can get a deer target or make your backyard running with gazelles or lions according to your leisure.

If you want to scare your neighbor, you can get a full-size sasquatch. To take your training one step further, you can transform your backyard into a training simulation where you can practice many different angles and train for hunting season.

For instance, you can practice from a tree stand and keep the target below to train like in an actual life situation.

One limitation if I have to address is the capacity of the core to wear out after the repetitive shooting, but the good thing is that the core is easily replaceable.

Though purchasing an archery target externally is possible, you should learn how to make one yourself to not only make some things more accessible but also to save money in the long run.

What’s the Importance of Archery Targets?

What’s the Importance of Archery Targets

Before we plunge deeper over everything, you’ll need to understand the importance of archery targets. Why can’t you just shoot at a tree or a wall?

There many reasons for having an archery target, and practice is just one small part of a big situation.

For starters, archery targets ensure better safety. We all know how arrows are incredibly sharp and cannot imagine one piercing our bodies.

Since they travel at great speed, without an archery target, chances are you may mess up your shot and hit some that will hurt like hell.

Therefore, not only does the archery target act like a vision or place to shoot, but it also soaks up all the arrows and the damage they inflict. So rather than flying about, you’ll have a target that can take all the damage instead.

Another reason is that archery targets help to save arrows. Yeah, I know there are abundant arrows out there, and we are in the era of mass production, but arrows are expensive, and if they get damaged, you’ll have to keep replacing them, which can cost you your fortune.

Archery targets make sure that your arrows don’t get harm while shooting. For instance, if you shoot at a tree and an archery target, which one will do minor damage to your arrow? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

In addition to this, archer targets also aid in improving accuracy as you are shooting at a specific target on a particular point. Accuracy is an essential skill to learn and hone if you are on the journey of becoming a dexterous archer.

What About Homemade Archery Targets

When you are dealing with a tight budget or want a custom target as you have some specifications for the target, making your own archery target fits the bill.

Bag targets, paper targets, and even block targets can be easily made at home without any need for advanced materials. For instance, people have been using hay bale as archery targets for many years.

Homemade targets can work wonders, given that you’ve invested enough time and a bit of money, lest done poorly, the target will not only get destroyed quickly, but you’ll also find yourself shopping for a new target.

Advantages of Making Your Own Archery Targets

Now that you know most about archery targets, you must understand why making one yourself has some advantages. Though you can always go for commercial pre-made targets, making your own has many benefits.

  • Cheap:- One of the most prominent advantages of making an archery target by yourself is it is cost-effective, and you are saving a ton of money that you’d have spent on purchasing a pre-made one. A lot of materials that you’ll need to make an archery target can be easily found around your house, and some of those materials are even disposable.
  • Custom:- Generally, the archery targets you’ll purchase will have different yet specific sizes and shapes, and if that’s what you don’t want, constructing your archery target can help you with that.
  • Disposable:- As I mentioned earlier, the materials you’ll be working with are mostly made from recyclable materials, and thus you don’t have to invest time and effort in taking care of them.

Things You’ll Need to Consider Before Making Your Very Own Archery Target

Now that you have many more reasons to make an archery target by yourself, here is the list of things that you should keep in mind while making one.


With regards to materials, there are, for the most part, two things you should take a gander at the frame and stuffing.

To simplify, a simple box target can have a soft stuffing, and for this, you can even use foam. That said, you can also use clothes and rags, just keep in mind that your stuffing should be absorbent as well as soft.

If you can manage to get your hands on hay, that would prove to be an excellent choice.

As far as the frame is concerned, it is a different thing. You can get an old cardboard box to get the job done, but make sure that you are opting for a box that has a decent size.

By this, I mean that you are looking for at least around 18 inches of box size, so ensure that you are getting around that big box. If you wish you can also go for a wooden frame according to your leisure.

Remember that an average commercial pre-made archery target has around 18 inches in size.


When talking about construction, it is reasonably straightforward. That said, you’ll still have to put in your sweat and hours to build one.

For instance, if you are looking at a box target, you can simply fill the box with your stuffing, like old clothes that you no longer plan to use.

And whenever you are done, simply seal the container with some tape and draw a mark on one side.

You will need backing support if you are looking for wooden frame targets, and for that, ordinarily, chicken wire or mesh will work.

Once placed, just fill the target with stuffing and seal the box with some canvas so that all the filling doesn’t fall out.

When you are done creating the target, you are good to try it out on the battlefield.

Remember that all your box targets should be simply thrown away once used and done. As for the wooden frame, you’ll have to just replace the stuffing, and you are good to go.

Height Guide for Archery Target

Like any other sport out there, archery also comes with its set of rules, standards, procedures, and regulations that are anticipated to be followed by all the archers so that they know what they are aiming for and have fair judging.

And one of such rules is the target’s height. How high or low should it be?

Well, there is no universal rule for correct target placement in archery, albeit it existed for more than thousands of years.

However, there are professional organizations for archery that suggest that every professional archery event has its own set of regulations and guidelines.

With that said, it also depends on where the event is taking place — indoors or outdoors?

Typical Events in Archery

As I mentioned, there is not a widely accepted or existing guideline of the archery target’s height, but it is said that the target should be placed around a 15 ° angle where the center of the target is 48 inches off the ground.

Therefore, it makes the 48 inches height the most commonly used archery target’s height.

But to be honest, it mostly depends on how well you intend to shoot and why you are shooting. If you are contending at a professional event, 48 inches in height is the most probable you’ll get.

Then again, you are simply rehearsing on the off chance; you can change and choose height as per your inclination.

So What’s the Archery Targets Optimum Height?

According to a book I read (The archer register), it mentions that we should pitch archery targets at 70° inclination from the ground. Keeping that in mind, there are also other degree inclinations, and they are mentioned as follows in the form of a table.

Archery Target’s InclinationArchery Target’s Lowest Point Height from the GroundArchery Target’s Distance between the Lowest and Highest Point (Measured Horizontally)
60°2 foot ¾ inches2 foot
65°2 foot 2 ¼ inches1 foot 8 ¼ inches
70°2 foot 1 ½ inch1 foot 4 ½ inches
75°2 foot ¾ inches1 foot ½ inches

As should be obvious, there are different brace heights, and some manufacturers suggest a support range from 6 ¾ inches to 7 ¼ inches for a longbow. Concurrently, other brands encourage 7 to 7 ½ inches.

If you favor a brace height that is lower, the arrow will, in general, remain longer on the string, which can enhance any blunder once you shoot.

This likewise enables the bolt to absorb a more significant amount of the bow’s energy since it remains longer on the string.

On the other side, a higher brace height empowers your arrow’s faster release and can help negate issues on the off chance you performed a lousy release. In general, the arrow will tend to absorb a tad bit of the limb’s stored energy.

However, this is in modest amounts and is not something that needs to be stressed over.

Something More

We can accept the 48 inches target height to be general, but as referenced prior, there a plethora of factors that can influence this standard.

And one such thing that affects this standard is whether you are practicing indoors or outdoors. In case if you are practicing indoors, the target’s height can be kept lower.

On the flip side, outdoor training can welcome either lower or higher target height. On the off chance you are practicing with kids, you should keep the target height lower.

The type of archery target you are planning to use can also affect how low or high you should be keeping the archery target.

Block and bag targets are smaller than 3D targets, but then again, 3D targets are primarily used for practice, and thus, smaller ones are most likely used.

Buying Guide for Archery Targets

Buying Guide for Archery Targets

Now that you have all the crucial information, I reckon some of you would love to have the convenience of premade archery targets. And for them, I have made this small guide which they can follow to ensure they get the right target.


There are a couple of factors that are imperative to understand when talking about your target’s size.

One of the basic ones is, the larger your target will be, the heavier it is. However, the size of your target can also influence the visibility part, and if you are planning to practice long-range shooting, larger targets will work wonders.


Price is the one factor that can alter the decision of many, and archery equipment is no exception. Some archery targets such as paper can prove affordable, but some are expensive, such as foam, as the material they are made from is generally pricey.


You would find that many archery targets are propped on a stand so that you can shoot at them comfortably.

Add weight to the equation, and lugging the target becomes a whole lot more complicated. You see, you’d want to look for an archery target that can be easily carried and set up.


You’d also want to consider the durability and longevity of your target as you are going to burst the target with a bunch of arrows. Since to get good at the game, you’ll need to shoot thousands of arrows at the target; you should ensure that your target can take up all the beating like a pro.

Not all the targets are made equally, and some can handle damage better than others.

Ease of Removing Arrow

Lastly, you’d want to look for a target that can facilitate better and easy removal of arrows as you’d be shooting thousands of arrows at the target, and they’ll go deeper if you keep hitting the same spot.

Struggling to remove an arrow can lead to damaged arrows pretty much quickly. Even though arrows can prove to be cheap if you purchase them individually, but if you’re going to shoot them a thousand times, it all piles up.

Therefore, you’d want to get a target that can ensure easy removal of the arrows so that you can use them again.

Things To Keep in Mind

You should be aware of the limitations that come with the backyard archery range, and it’s worth understanding them.

Not all the Homemade Targets are Good for Broadheads

The target that I’ve used in this article is excellent for field points. You should only use broadhead arrows if you own a high-density target or layered with foam.

However, you might have to use self-healing foams or multiple layers of foam, which can prove expensive.

Broadhead arrows are excellent for bow hunting, but shooting them to an inappropriate target is unsafe and even deadly.

Your Target’s Compression of Material is Crucial

Archery targets work simply because they have sandwiched multiple layers of materials compressed so tightly that they can quickly reduce the arrow’s force by producing enough friction and bringing it to a halt.

Be it tape, clothes, ratchet straps, carpet, foam, cardboard, plastic bags, chicken wire, rubber mats, and so forth; the principle remains the same.

The materials need to be compressed tight so that your target can work, or else your arrow will fly through the target like it was air.

Look for a Safe Area to Practice in Your Backyard

You should ensure that your target shooting should not put your family or neighbors at risk. You should never shoot towards your home or others — no matter how strong or durable your target is, period.

You should keep your target at such a location that it cannot harm anyone or their homes, including yours. Don’t keep your target near a fence, as arrows are pretty sneaky to pass through the wall if the gap is big enough.

How to Make an Archery Target from Hay Bale for A Compound Bow

Enough of all the information, now it time to plunge deeper into the pertinent question. Though a hay bale target may seem easy to build, it still requires a few hardships.

If you are shooting with lower poundage draw weight, the hay bale target fits the bill.

Get a Pallet

Though this step is optional, I’d recommend getting a pallet for the target stand. If you keep the hay bales above the ground with the help of a target, there is no way moisture can mess with your target.

If your hay bale target gets wet, it sort of becomes less effective, and thus you should get a pallet. You can hit your local warehouse and might get one for free.

Obtain the Hay Bales

Now you’ll need to purchase hay blades that typically cost around $3 to $10 per blade. What’s more, you can quickly get them from local farms or feed stores.

You can generally have it conveyed on the off chance that you cannot haul it home yourself. That said, it also depends on who you are purchasing the hay bales from.

You can find 14, 18, and 35 inches tall, wide, and long of two-wire square measure. For three-wire, the bales roughly measure around 16, 22, and 44 inches tall, wide and long, respectively.

Having said that, these are kind of larger bales, and they weigh around 100 pounds.

Build up the Compression on the Bales

Before you get your hay bale, you should ensure that the bale is tightly baled and isn’t loose so the arrows can easily fly through it. For that, you ought to support the bale.

You can accomplish that by using two ratchet straps — for the front and the back. Make a point to tighten it down firmly by wrapping it up.

Cover up the Hay Bales in Plastic

To keep the water or moisture off, you should wrap the hay bales in plastic, considering that you don’t have any sort of covered structure to place them.

A relatively straightforward way is to simply warp a tarp all around them. You can quickly get that at a cheaper cost. You can wrap them around the bales and use some ties or ropes to secure them.

You can even shrink-wrap multiple layers around the bales.

Get Ready with Your BullsEye

Lastly, all you have to do is put paper targets, dots, or use stick-on circles for your bullseye.

You can easily get paper targets near your sporting goods, and for the most cost-effective option, you can just directly cut an appropriately sized hole from the middle of your paper and use it as a stencil. After that, spray them with a single or five dot, according to your leisure, and leave them to dry.

And now you have a cost-effective hay bales archery target that can last for hundreds of arrows, and removing them would be easy.

How to Make an Archery Target from Cardboard for a Compound Bow

Now, I must say, this one is ridiculously simple.

If you happen to shop a lot, you might be having a ton of card boxes already; if not, you can easily get them from your workplace, school, grocery stores for free.

That said, ensure you are opting for card boxes of identical size and around 40 to 50 of them.

Contemplate on the Box Size for Your Frame

You should choose a box size that is appropriate for your archery target. I’d say something in the range of 3 ½ feet, 3 ½ feet, and 1 ½ foot, long, wide, and thick, respectively.

Now it doesn’t have to be precisely the same size; you should aim to make it big enough so that you can shoot at different distances comfortably.

This will be your target frame box, and you will be stacking all the other cardboards into this box.

Get to the Cutting Part

To frame the stuff, you’ll need a pile of cardboard, and if you want a number, you’ll need around 80 to 100 layers of the frame for your chosen size (or the one we’ve mentioned).

Get all the boxes of the same size and cut them in half, and double them up. You should cut the board to fit in the flush when you stack it in the frame.

The idea here is to get maximum compression by stuffing the frame box with all these cardboards. You’ll keep the edges of the cardboard on the outer side to make the target’s face.

Time to Compress the Box

Just like we used two ratchet straps in the hay bales archery target, you’ll do the same to wrap them around the width of the box.

Without crushing the frame, secure the straps as down as you can.

Get Ready with Your BullsEye

For this archery target, you can place a paper target on it while spraying the dots using the stencil for any pattern you wish.

This easy and straightforward target will last you for weeks (it mostly depends on how long and how much you shoot). When the cardboard seems to short out, you can simply loosen the straps, adjust the board (or even replace it) and tighten it back.

That’s it, and you’re good to go once again. Don’t worry about arrow removal; that’s going to be without a hitch.

How to Make an Archery Target from Compressed Frame for a Compound Bow

Now this one is a bit of a premium version of all the three targets I’ve mentioned. The best part about this is that you can use almost any suitable material for the backstop. For instance, you can go with cardboard, foam, or even carpet.

Material Needed for Building Compressed Frame Target

  • One 2 x 12 board
  • Four ½ inches x 36 inches threaded rods
  • Eight ½ inches nuts
  • Eight ½ inches large washers
  • A ton of carpet scarp

Creating the Top and Bottom for the Frame

You’ll need to split the board into two to get 36-inch two-long pieces.

For that, you’ll have to mark at 36 inches using a tape measure on the board. From that point onward, draw a rule at the imprint by utilizing a speed square.

You can now use a miter saw, skil, or even your hand to cut the board in half.

Once done, one part will be your top, and the other will be the bottom of your frame.

Next, with the help of four c-clamps, secure the two boards together. After that, drill a ½ inches hole in all four corners, ensure that you’re drilling through both the top and bottom board.

Connect the Thread Rod with the Base Board

Now slide the threaded rods through the openings in the baseboard. Guarantee that you are pushing the bars simply till several inches from the baseboard.

Next, screw on a nut on each rod by sliding the washer towards the end. At this point, your bottom board will fasten to the threaded rods.

Now your bottom is ready to stuff the backstop material, and for that, I’ll be using carpet.

Now’s the Time to Load the Carpet to the Bottom Frame

Hopefully, you’ve got a ton of carpet that you can use for loading the bottom frame. When you are prepared with your carpet, you’ll need to cut it around 33 inches in length and 12 inches wide.

Make sure that you are cutting the carpet uniformly to get a relatively flush face. For better compression, you should stack enough carpets for 38 inches high.

The extra height will help you with good compression.

Spot the Top Board and Fix it Down

Once done, you can now safely put the top board and push it down (with the help of a second person). After that, you can screw the nut down to each rod’s end with the use of a washer.

Now, with the use of an open-ended wrench, you can tighten all four nuts. Keep pushing down the board with the help of a second person so that you can crank down the nuts as much as possible.

Try Your Target Out

Get ready with your compound bow and fire a test shot at the target. If everything seems fine, you are good to go.

On the off chance you have too much penetration, get back to the cranking process till you get the desired compression level.

Get Ready with Your BullsEye

Just like we’ve done in all other targets, tack a paper target, spray it down, and voila! You are good to shoot.

This is the most durable target I’ve created from the ones above; this one can easily last you for years and probably one of the most long-lasting DIY archery targets you can make.

In case if the layers start to fray out, you can substitute them easily and can even change the material to cardboard or foam according to your leisure for a broadhead arrow.

The size is adequate, but you can plan while making one or attach some casters if you want it bigger.

Some Penetration Specifications for a Compound Bow Archery Target

Here are some penetration specifications for your bows according to the draw weight; I’ve mentioned the weight for 70 lb compound bow and 32 lb recurve bow so that you can get a clear understanding of the range.

For 70 lb for a Compound Bow

  • 8 to 12 inches into the target if 20 yards
  • 6 to 8 inches into the target if 30 yards
  • 4 to 8 inches into the target if 40 yards

For 32 lb for a Recurve Bow

  • 8 to 12 inches into the target if 20 yards
  • 6 to 8 inches into the target if 30 yards
  • 4 to 8 inches into the target if 40 yards


You can also watch these videos if you are not able to create the target by yourself. It’s okay to mess up in DIY stuff, but videos help a lot as they give you visual explanations of things and show you how it’s done, rather than reading a bunch of thousand words.

Some Safety Measures that You Should Follow Always

When we are talking about archery, safety is always an imperative priority. Here are some things that you should keep in mind while you’re at it.

  • Be prepared with a backdrop, lest should you miss any shot.
  • You should ensure that your arrows are not damaged in any way before releasing them.
  • NEVER AIM or SHOOT at any other individual, even if you haven’t drawn your arrow, period.
  • Make sure that you are wearing an arm guard.


You see, it’s not that difficult to make an archery target by yourself. That said, you can always have the option of purchasing one online or from a shop if you want to save yourself the trouble of making one.

And if that’s the case, make sure that you are keeping the buying guide I’ve mentioned in your mind.

With that being said, creating your own target for archery is not only a fun process but also establishes a sense of accomplishment and productivity, let alone is cost-effective and customizable.

It all boils down to practice as an archer to become a better player in this sport. So keep hunting, keep practicing, till we meet again.