Budget backyard archery for beginners
Even the most skilled archers have accidentally fired an arrow, sending it where it was never intended to go. We don’t recommend practicing archery in a suburban backyard because of the close proximity and risk of harm to other people, animals and property, and certainly not with compound bows.
However, if you have the space for it on a larger property out of town, setting up a small archery range for your kids to shoot recurve or low-poundage beginner compound bows doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise.
Archery safety is important, but not difficult. However you shouldn't rush into backyard archery without taking some safety precautions. You need to set up your target sensibly in a safe zone that is clear of structures, public spaces and livestock. Informing your neighbours where you practice archery on your property is also a good idea.
Every backyard archery range requires three things:
- A safe shooting lane
- A backstop
- A target
A safe shooting lane is an area clear of obstacles a few metres wide by at least 20 metres long, that you have scouted for safety beside, behind and beyond, for up to 400 metres in every direction from the shooting line. You need to be aware of the structures, public spaces, livestock, and other features that exist in that area, and take measures to prevent a misfired arrow reaching them. Remove objects and obstacles from which a rogue arrow might deflect skywards.
The number one rule is never to “sky-draw”. Always draw your bow facing forward and downwards, towards the target.
A backstop is a structure a short distance behind the target to prevent travel of an arrow beyond it, towards property, livestock and neighbours. The best budget options for backstops are the natural or man-made structures that already exist, such as a steep slope, pile of dirt, brick wall or retaining wall. Wooden fence panels are effective if reinforced with plywood, foam or carpet to absorb the impact and prevent penetration. Hay bales layered four high and at least two deep, with a backing of plywood, foam or carpet, make great backstops for low poundage bows.
A target for low poundage bows can consist of one of these budget ideas:
- Sheets of paper backed with cardboard with dots, rings, animal shapes or tic-tac-toe games drawn or painted on. Use roofing nails to tack them on to hay bales or bags of sugar cane mulch. When the hay bales or bags finally disintegrate you can spread the mulch on the vegie garden.
- Stuff cheap storage bags you buy in bargain shops full of old bubble wrap, plastic bags or packing foam. Some hardware stores are happy to give you as much of their stockpile of unwrapped packing plastic as you can carry!
- We sell a variety of target faces made of reinforced paper that are inexpensive and more durable than ordinary cardboard, and are more cost effective when you buy five or more. We also sell target pins to easily fasten the target faces to your target.
Backyard archery for beginners is a great activity for the whole family to prepare for and partake in, and doesn’t have to be expensive. So get outdoors and have some fun!