A decade ago, it was far easier to choose an archery target than it is today. The reason it has become more difficult to select a target is because there is so much more variety. Years ago, a simple compressed bale of hay would do the trick, but now there are professional targets that ensure the protection of the arrows and tips. Today’s target manufacturers make targets durable, long lasting, dense, and capable of handling a large amount of kinetic energy stemming from the arrows you shoot downrange. What’s more, newer targets are easy to care for and do more to ensure the longevity of your archery equipment. The targets available today include three-dimensional practice and competition targets, bag targets, and foam layer targets.
Archery Target Considerations
You are going to want to buy a target that is durable to ensure it lasts a long period: This will allow you to get the most out of your target investment. The target needs to be somewhat resistant to arrow penetration: This may seem counter intuitive, but you want the target to act similar to how it would behave in real world settings. For instance, if you are hunting prey, the arrow will meet with some resistance upon impact with the animal. The target will not only need to be mildly resistant, but it should be able to withstand multiple shots within the same hole.
The target you choose needs to be arrow friendly. In other words, when an archer chooses to remove an arrow from a penetrated target, the target should release the arrow with ease. The archer should not have to struggle with arrow removal as this may cause the arrows to bend out of shape. When you invest in a target it needs to be a selection that is suitable for the kind of bow and arrows you are using for target practice. For instance, some targets are great for crossbow use, but cannot handle a shot from a broadhead arrow.
You may want a target that has more than a single aim point. With more than one bulls eye, more than one archer can have a specified target to work with when shooting. Alternatively, a single archer can work with one aim point then another and another until all the target points have been used. This saves time walking back and forth from the shooting point to the target and back again. It also leaves more shooting time and less time spent removing arrows from the target in question.
Dense, thick, and heavy targets are ideal for crossbow users. The bag targets are ideal for recurve or vertical bow users. Some targets are also made of foam materials and it is these types of targets that are best for practicing with broadheads. The foam material is highly resistant making it difficult to pull the broadhead arrows out of the target. Some foam targets feature a compartment in the back of the device where you can open it up and access the interior foam panels. Opening the back panel allows the archer to access the foam panels so the archer can control target penetration depth. Ultimately, if you plan on target shooting with field points and broadheads, you are going to want more than one target: A bag target and a foam target. A target made of foam is a must when using arrows with broadheads.
You can invest in separate target faces if you want to change what the front of your target looks like as well. Some target face options include the most common five spot target face, deer anatomy, and competitive target faces among others. Finally, when it comes to youth target shooting, it is best to have a larger, less dense target for practice purposes. Recommended target size is 3 inches by 3 inches. The larger target is a bit less dense and heavy than other targets and makes for easy arrow penetration and removal. Lighter bows are often incapable of penetrating the targets that are small, more compact, and dense.
Bag Targets for Archery
Bag targets are excellent if you are planning to practice with target points rather than arrows. These types of targets are filled with some kind of fibrous material so that it can slow down and halt a flying arrow with ease. Even better is the fact that bag targets are the easiest target to remove arrows from once the arrows have penetrated the target.
A bag target needs to be heavy and dense to ensure its immobility when in use. It is a good idea to pick up a bag target to get a real sense of its weight before you buy it. Some bag target manufacturers do not fill the bag targets up to capacity as they are looking to ship lighter targets.
If you opt for a bag target, you will need to have somewhere to store the target to prevent it from getting wet in the rain. Storing the target in an area that is dry is highly recommended, as it will ensure the longevity of the target you choose. A bag target is not intended for use with broadheads since such arrows tend to get stuck inside the target or rip right through it entirely. Thus, when using broadheads with a bag target, the archer runs the risk of potential arrow damage.
Foam Block Targets for Archery
If you plan on using broadheads you better plan on buying at least one foam target. The layered foam targets are the only targets that can withstand the penetration of a broadhead arrow. These targets come in a range of sizes, styles, and designs, but all are fitted with dense foam inside the target. The foam allows for slowing the velocity of an arrow in motion and trapping it within the target. The foam prevents full target penetration. Since broadheads are fitted with blades that are razor sharp, a bag target will not last long if you are using broadheads. With foam targets, you can also use field points for archery practice.
When you shoot an arrow at a foam target, the foam material pinches the arrowhead and shaft in the material. Rather than stopping the motion of the arrow via force, the foam target relies on friction to slow down the arrow’s movement. Foam targets are quite durable and last a considerably long time. These targets are remarkably affordable and because they are light, the targets are easy to tote around from one practice range or location to another. The primary con associated with foam block targets is the deep penetration of the arrow makes arrow removal a bit difficult.
3D Practice and Competition Archery Targets
Three-dimensional practice and competition archery targets are just that: Targets that are three-dimensional and that attempt to look as realistic as possible. Such targets are great for hunting practice or for archery competitions. The 3D targets on the market today are made with super durable materials with the expectation that the targets will be used repeatedly. The 3D practice and competition targets come in different shapes and are made to look like deer, bears, turkeys, antelopes, beavers, bobcats, foxes, porcupines, rabbits, and even zombies! Out of all the targets on the market, the three-dimensional realistic looking targets are the most expensive.
The Morrel Yellow Jacket Target measures 20 inches wide by 20 inches high by 16 inches deep. There are five target points on the face of this bag target. The target is fitted with a handle so it is easy to transport from one target practice location to another. This target is 30 pounds and, therefore, dense enough to handle the kinetic energy coming from a crossbow arrow, but also light enough to make it easy to tote. This model is designed for crossbow field point practice only. Morrel makes a whole line of targets ideal for recurve bow, broadhead, and crossbow practice.
A moderately priced target, The Bone Collector is suitable for use with field points. The target allows for ease of arrow removal, and it can stop arrows traveling at a velocity of 400 feet per second. A special internal frame helps to keep the body of the target the same shape over the course of time. The unit measures 19 inches high by 19 inches wide by 19 inches deep and weighs 32 pounds to ensure ease of portability. Since the target is shaped like a cube, there are different target faces on the sides of the cube.