DIY projects to enhance the backyard archery range
There are several do-it-yourself projects backyard archers can tackle to enhance the comprehensive target shooting experience. These ideas aren’t overly expensive, and they significantly add overall efficiency to the home range.
The first is a simple bow hanger stand. Mine is very basic and includes a cedar fence post driven deeply into the ground, leveled by stakes and topped with two opposing hooks to hang bows during arrow retrieval.
I used a manual post-hole digger to remove about 30-inches of soil, dropped in the rot-resistant post, backfilled and packed it, and then drove in two additional anchor stakes on an angle to prevent leaning. One could easily make this a permanent stand with some cardboard tubing and Quikrete should it be desired.
Instead of fancy bow hangers, I simply screwed in two rubber-coated hardware J-hooks (the kind people use to hang things in their garage) and called it a day. I’ve also seen horizontal boards added to the top of these vertical posts with dowel rod pegs glued in on a soft upward angle to accommodate additional bows. Either way, it’s nice to have a convenient place to hang your equipment between rounds.
An easy arrow holder can be fashioned from a 20-inch length of PVC-piping with at least a four-inch diameter. Either drive a stake into the ground and lash the piping to the stake or attach the capped base of the piping to a 6-inch square piece of treated lumber for a mobile, yet stable option.
If you plan to permanently keep a target or two outside, it is best to shield them from the weather by constructing a makeshift target shelter. I built one that I use for my bag targets and a 3D deer target that stay out all year round for convenient quick-shoot sessions. This allows me to preserve the longevity of my outdoor targets without need to put up and take down every time I want to shoot.
I framed up my shelter from scrap lumber lying around my barn and old fence posts salvaged from a nearby horse pasture. A small section of tin roofing was scrounged from a friend’s scrap pile, and all I paid for was the screws to assemble it.
It’s about 3-feet wide by 6-feet tall to accommodate bags hung high and a standing deer target below them. I intentionally left two of the cross braces a little long to serve as a temporary bow hanger when pulling arrows. For such a cheap structure, it works great, and I only need to replace the bags when they’re too shot up to hold arrows.
As the season draws nearer, I always like to take a few shots with my broadheads to make sure everything is flying in tune. Rather than jack up my expensive foam or bag targets, I fashion my own “free” bag target, made from old chicken feed bags and wood pellet bags that I save throughout the year. If you don’t own chickens or a pellet stove, no worries — plastic store bags will serve the same purpose.
Collect enough bags around the year by conveniently stuffing them into the large bag you intend to use as the face bag or shell of the target. Once the bag is full enough to firmly hold its form, roll the top down and secure with duct tape. Add an aiming point with a sharpie marker or dot of spray paint, and you’re ready to go!
There are countless ways to improve the efficiency of your own backyard practice range. Not only are these projects inexpensive, but they are a fun to build, and serve as a great way to think about bow season in the offseason.