Choosing the Best Archery Target

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.

Recommended Products

Morrel Yellow Jacket Bag Target for Crossbows

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.

The Bone Collector Box Archery Target

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.

Archery Safety: Making a Safe Sport Even Safer

Archery has become increasingly popular lately, particularly when considering movies like Brave and The Hunger Games bringing the sport onto the big screen. It seems as if a major revival in the interests in archery is ever increasing, and will continue to rise. According to, as o 2013 more than 18 million people practice archery: That is about one out of every 12 people in the United States. As per 2012 statistics, .8 percent of archers participated in bow hunting, while 2.8 percent participated in bow hunting and target archery. In the same year, 84 percent of bow hunters were men and 41 percent of archery-only shooters were women. Roughly, 42 percent of men were ages 18 to 34 and 45 percent of women who got into archery were 35 to 55 years of age.

Clearly, many adults find the sport particularly appealing. The practice also appeals to the young. As of the year 2013, USA Archery, which serves as the nation’s governing body of the sport, has witnessed a 121 percent increase in the interest in learning archery. Compared to two years prior where there was a 104 percent increase in archery interest among teens, and one can easily see the interests in the sport are still on the rise today. Of course, with rising interests, many parents question the safety level of the sport as well. In fact, parents may be quite surprised to find that archery is amazingly safe.

Many archery ranges have never witnessed an injury or accident. As per information made available by the National Safety Council, archery is more than three times safer than a game like golf. Statistics reveal for every 2000 archers participating in the sport, that a single person will be injured whereas in a game like golf, one out of every 625 people gets injured. Statistics also reveal that in as much as 94 percent of any injuries that are archery related are due to the individuals hurting themselves by cutting their fingers on razor sharp arrowheads. These latter types of arrowheads are only for use during hunting (they are ultra sharp to make for better piercing of animal flesh) and, therefore, do not cause a problem on the archery range.

The most common injuries one faces when participating in archery following cuts include forearm injury resulting from when the bowstring slaps against the forearm: An issue that can be reduced by wearing a forearm guard when using the bow and arrow. Statistics reveal bystanders have not been injured in ranges and the very rare occasion outside the range that a bystander is injured as well. Essentially, with the use of good equipment and with heightened awareness, many injuries and safety issues can be eradicated quickly. The need for greater archery education is revealed in “Epidemiology of recreational archery injuries” appearing in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. In the latter article, researchers from George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services assert that while there is some risk for injury due to lacerations, these risks can be reduced when the archer takes a bow hunter safety education course that places emphasis on how to handle broadhead arrows safely. The experts also found that participation in an accredited archery training program helps in minimizing the likelihood of acute injuries occurring, while back injuries or chronic shoulder injuries can be reduced through the implementation of some joint and strength training.

Some Precautions to Take

  1. The archer should always respect his or her equipment by inspecting it before and after use. The examination should include looking for wear, tear, or broken parts or parts that look as if they need replacement. All parts of the bow, the arrow, release mechanisms, and other equipment needs to be inspected thoroughly.
  2. Check arrow bodies to ensure there are no splinters or unseen cracks.
  3. Examine the bow limbs, both upper and lower, for potential cracks.
  4. When the bow is strung, make sure it is strung correctly.
  5. Make use of a stringer to string a recurve bow as this is the safer solution for bow stringing.
  6. Make use of special safety equipment such as finger tabs, string releases, stringers, and forearm guards in order to maximize the protection of the body.
  7. When preparing to face the target or prey, look around to see what’s near you and within the pathway of you and the target. Make sure all areas are clear.
  8. Do not point the bow and arrow at another, especially if it is drawn. Do not draw the bow back to full draw until you have your target in your sight.
  9. Never release an arrow up into the air.
  10. Make sure the arrow is nocked before you fire. Always nock the arrow as you have the bow directed toward the ground: This will protect you and others in the event of accidental release.
  11. Do not overdraw a bow at any time. An overdraw occurs when you pull back the bowstring further than the actual length of the arrow you are shooting. Overdraws can result in significant injury as well as the damage and destruction of your equipment.
  12. If you are on a range shooting your bow and arrows, adhere to the rules of the range.
  13. Do not walk into the path of other archers.
  14. Care for your equipment to prolong its use and to ensure that it remains safe to use.
  15. Make sure you do not wear jewelry or accessories that will get in the way of using the bow and arrow.
  16. Wax your string for every 100 arrows of use to keep the string in good, unfrayed condition.
  17. If you are retrieving arrows, walk, do not run.
  18. If at a range and you want to retrieve equipment, you must wait until it is safe to do so. This is when the instructor calls out a command like “all clear” or “all bows down.”


eHowSport’s “Archery 101: Safety Rules for Archery.” Video. URL:

ANR’S University of California’s “Clover Safe: Archery Safety.” PDF file: Newsletter #47. URL:

West Bend’s “Archery Safety.” Website. URL:

Morrisonville’s State College’s, “Archery Safety.” Website. URL:

Additional Resources:’s “Traditional Bows and Arrows for Children Safety.” Website. URL:

Archery 360’s “Archery Safety Tips and Rules.” Website. URL:

How to Sight in a Bow: Step by Step Directions

Whether you like to practice your archery skills on the range or you use your bow and arrow to hunt live prey, you will want to take advantage of the tools and equipment that make it possible for you to make an excellent shot. Making sure you take your best shot is important, particularly when you are hunting, as you want to make every effort to have a clean kill: One that will prevent the animal’s unnecessary suffering. You also want to try to prevent any damage from occurring to your equipment, whether you are practicing or you are actually on a real hunt. It is impossible to simply pull back the bowstring and expect to hit your intended target with any degree of accuracy.

Thus, it is vital that you learn how to sight in your bow so you can improve the likelihood of striking the target you have chosen. The process of sighting in your bow allows you to make up the different for arrow drop caused by the gravitational pull over disturbances and distances once the arrow has been fired from the bow. Due to the importance of sighting in your bow to the level of accuracy, you will want to follow the steps provided here to make sure you make the most of every shot.

General Tips for Beginners

In order to sight in your bow correctly, you will want to spend some time each day for a few days to dedicate yourself to sighting in your bow. Over the course of a few days, you will be able to compensate for any issues that might arise due to fatigue, a shift in form of stance, or human error in general. If you span out your time and sight in the bow over the course of a couple of days, it will gain you a greater degree of accuracy with every shot you make in the future.

When you attempt to sight in your bow, make sure your arrows are the same weight and length. Also make sure your practice tips and hunting tips are the same weight. The weight is conveyed in grains. The tips should be at 80 to 100 grain for good performance.

Sights for Your Bow

There are plenty of different styles of bow sights you can choose from when you are looking for the perfect sight to mount to your bow for the purposes of improving your shot. If you are new to archery, you may find cost is your foremost concern and you might do well to focus on seeking out a sight for your bow based on affordability factors. However, many compound bows come equipped with a bow sight when you purchase them.

The easiest sights for you to use are often the most reasonably priced because the less expensive sights have fewer bells and whistles. With the easiest sights to use, you will find the devices fitted with some pins in an array of colors, all of which are set for the distances you determine. The pins are often independent of the other pins so you can adjust one pin without having to tweak or change the others. For the yardage/distance settings, you are left to determine the settings you desire, and you can preset up to three or four distances.

A sight will come equipped with a bracket for mounting the sight to your bow. The sight should be easy enough to mount as it will affix to your equipment with a few screws. You should verify however, that the sight will accommodate both left and right handed archers so you are guaranteed a sight that works no matter what your dominant hand is initially. The sights available on the market today include fixed pin sight, the sight with moveable pins, and the pendulum sight. The one you choose will be based on preference. In terms of sights and installation, there are two distinct forms of mounting brackets: dovetail and fixed, with the permanency of the fixed sight far more appealing than the removable dovetail solutions.

An affordable bow sight is right around $40.00. If you have been into archery for a while and you are looking to participate in tournaments, no doubt you will want to check out the more pricey sights for your bow. Since the most widely used sight is the fixed pin option, this article will focus on sighting in the fixed pin variant of bow sightings. Fixed pin sights are certainly suitable for recreation and hunting pursuits.

Installing the Bow Sight

Once you buy a sight, be sure to read the installation manual that comes with the sight. The sight is part of the bow that is attached to the riser. The sight should come with connections that make it possible to mount the sight to the bow with ease. You may find your bow actually has holes that are predrilled into it where you can attach the bow. When installing the sight, take care not to over tighten the screws during the install as you run the risk of damaging your bow. You will want the pins to line up with the bowstring vertically. The sight is installed at a right angle to your bow. You should let the sight settle for 24 hours before attempting to make adjustments. The next day, be sure to check and see if the unit requires a bit more tightening.
Setting the Sighting Pins

Using an Allen wrench, you can set all of the sight’s pins to mid-point. Taking this step will allow you to make the most of your adjustments in whatever direction you have to make the adjustments. When you are ready, make sure you have a target established. Once the target is all set up, you can mark four distances at 10-yard increments: 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards respectively. If it is necessary for you to do so, you can use a range finder in order to increase the accuracy of the distances you set. You will need a durable target as well, as you will be making several shots into the target repeatedly as you sight in your bow.

Once you buy a sight, be sure to read the installation manual that comes with the sight. The sight is part of the bow that is attached to the riser. The sight should come with connections that make it possible to mount the sight to the bow with ease. You may find your bow actually has holes that are predrilled into it where you can attach the bow. When installing the sight, take care not to over tighten the screws during the install as you run the risk of damaging your bow. You will want the pins to line up with the bowstring vertically. The sight is installed at a right angle to your bow. You should let the sight settle for 24 hours before attempting to make adjustments. The next day, be sure to check and see if the unit requires a bit more tightening.
Setting the Sighting Pins

Using an Allen wrench, you can set all of the sight’s pins to mid-point. Taking this step will allow you to make the most of your adjustments in whatever direction you have to make the adjustments. When you are ready, make sure you have a target established. Once the target is all set up, you can mark four distances at 10-yard increments: 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards respectively. If it is necessary for you to do so, you can use a range finder in order to increase the accuracy of the distances you set.

To sight in your bow, you must stand perpendicular to your target at the 10-yard mark and place a practice arrow with a practice tip in your bow. Pull back the bow to full draw. Glance down at the bow sight’s uppermost pin. Release the arrow toward the selected target. Repeat this process a few times. Look at where the arrows are hitting the surface of the target and consider what you see as you prepare to set your sight. After viewing where the arrows are landing, determine how to adjust the sight. For example, if the arrows you shot went just above the area that the pin’s sight, you should adjust the sight box by moving up on the bow. You will have to continue with this process until the bow is not longer firing and hitting the target about the pin in your bow sight. Once you are done with the ten-yard mark, you will step back to the 20-yard mark, and do it all over again, only this time you will focus on the second pin down from the top in your sight. The process is the same for the third and fourth pins in your site.


Wiki How’s “How to Sight a Bow In.” Website. URL: “How to Sight in Your Bow.” Website. URL:


Petersen’s Bow Hunting’s “Goof-Proof Tips for Sighting-In Your Bow.” Website. URL:


Learning Archery Blog. “How to Sight in Bow.” Website. URL:’s “Sighting in Your Bow the Easy Way.” Website. URL:’s “Tune Up A step-by-step guide to assembling an accurate bow.” Website. URL:

How to Measure Your Draw Length

When you make the decision to learn archery and you decide to invest in your own bow, you will want to head to the sporting goods shop with an understanding of your draw length. It is important that you record the draw length accurately as it will influence the size of the bow you need to buy. It also influences the size of arrows you will need to purchase for use with your bow. Whether you are using a recurve or compound bow is really of no consequence: You will still need an accurate measurement of your draw length. What’s more, since compound bows are made with pre-established draw lengths, if you’re in the market for a compound bow, you’ll need to know that all important length of the draw.

It is vital that when you buy a bow for the first time that you get one that accurately works with your physical needs. Buying a bow in a hurry because you’re eager to get started shooting can end with negative consequences as it can influence the accuracy of your shot, the level of comfort you experience while using the bow, and in a worst-case scenario, it may even lead to an unwarranted injury. It is far better to take a few minutes time with the help of another to record your draw length before you shop.

Full Draw: Form and Stance

Full draw is a position you take when you are ready to release an arrow from your bow. Hold the bow with your non-dominant hand and in front of you while keeping the bow parallel to the ground. Imagine a target you want to shoot and keep the side of your body facing that target. Your feet should straddle an imagined line that runs all the way to the target. One foot should be a bit more forward than the other should. With your dominant hand, take the bowstring and pull back and slightly upward with your arm until your hand is at your face and the string touches your nose, cheek, and mouth. The string is tense and this full draw stance is your positioning moments before the arrow release.

Measuring Full Draw Method #1: Measuring Your Arms Outstretched

Standing up straight with your hands out to each side, keep your arms parallel to the ground. Keep your arms in a comfortable position. Do not lock your elbows. Do not overstretch to the left or right. Keep your shoulders back and your head up with the bottom of your chin parallel to the ground. Have your assistant take a tape measure to track and record the distance from the tip of your middle finger on one hand to the tip of the middle finger on your opposing hand. The figure collected is then divided by 2.5 to get a quotient that equals your full draw measurements. For instance, if you are the distance from one hand to another is 70 inches, and then you divide 70 by 2.5 to get a full draw length measurement of 28 inches.

There is a spin on this formula where the mathematical calculations vary, but you still end up with close to the same result. Some archers choose to take a full measurement from one hand to another and take 15 from the sum. The sum is then divided by 2 instead of 2.5. For instance, with a measurement of 70 inches from one hand to another, if the archer takes away 15, the remainder of 55 is divided by 2 for a quotient and full draw measurement of 27.5 inches.

Measuring Full Draw Method #2: Chest to Hand Measurement

An alternative method for taking a full draw measurement is to stand straight with your arms out to your sides. Have your assistant take the tape measure to record the distance from your chest’s center to the wrist of the hand on one of your fully extended arms. The measurement should start where the button on your shirts would appear. Essentially, this is just a different positioning of half the full arm measurement, and by foregoing the measurement of the hand, you are making allowances for the few extra inches that are not included in full draw measurements.

Measuring Full Draw Method #3: Fist to Mouth Measurement

Unlike the first two full draw measurement methods described above, the fist to mouth measurement does not require any division. All you have to do is to have someone make one simple measurement. Position yourself so you are standing in front of a wall at about arm’s length away. For this measuring tactic, you are going to pretend you are holding a bow in the air. With one arm outstretched and formed into a fist (as if you are holding a bow in the air in front of you), rest your fist against the wall. Keeping your arm in position, take the other arm and draw back your hand to your cheek and mouth where your hand would be when in full draw. Remain in this imagined full draw position and consider your posture as you do so. Have someone measure from your mouth to your fist that is up against the wall to get your full draw measurements.

The Ideal Measurement

Many compound bow owners have a tendency to set their equipment with an excessive draw length. The incorrect length leads to a host of issues, including shooting inaccuracies, issues with the archer’s form, and the archer may be subjected to a the painful and very much undesired sting from the slap of a bowstring against the arm. Having your draw length correct ensures your comfort and will allow for ease of equipment use. A good tip to remember is if you are ever in any doubt as to what measurement to set your full draw length at on a compound bow, always opt for a draw that is less than a bit more. On many bows, it is pretty easy to make a simple adjustment to the draw if you need to tweak the settings.

Draw Length and Arrow Speed

It is important for you to remember that a longer draw length results in a longer power stroke for your bow. When you have a longer draw length, it adds more to the power and speed of your shot. In fact, for every extra inch of draw length you have, you get another 10 feet per second when it comes to the velocity of the arrows you are shooting. With this notion in mind, consider that in archery speed is an important factor to the archer. Full draw length determines how fast the arrow moves. If you have a draw length of 28 inches, this equals 280 fps (191 mph) in terms of speed. Likewise, if you have a full draw of 32 inches, this equals 320 fps (218 mph) in terms of shooting speed. The latter figures are important as manufacturers rate their bows based on standards established by the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO). An IBO speed of 300 fps (205 mph) or less is a bow with a slow velocity while a bow with an IBO of 340 fps (232 mph) is an ultrafast shot.

The three chief things influencing the speed of a fired arrow are arrow mass, draw length, and draw weight. The lightest arrows fly the furthest. The bow stores extra power when the draw weight is higher, and the draw length also contributes to the amount of power a bow stores up before the shot.

Your Exact Draw Length or Thereabouts

By now, you have come to understand the importance an accurate draw length. If you noticed a bit of a difference in the measuring results from different techniques, you may wonder how accurate you need to be when calculating your draw length. Give or take a half inch to an inch in either direction is fine, as long as you are comfortable when you are shooting the bow. Your comfort when using the equipment is one of the most important factors to your success in any archery endeavors.


Hunter’s Friend. “ARCHERY HELP – BOW SIZING AND ADJUSTMENT GUIDE.” Website. URL: “Learn How To Determine Your Proper Draw Length.” Website. URL:

Mike’s Archery Center. “How to Calculate your Draw Length.” Website. URL:

Sole Adventure. “4 Ways That Archers Can Measure Their Draw Length.” Website. URL:

Additional Resources:

PSE Video. “How to Measure Draw Length.” Video. URL:

Santa Fe Archery. “How to Check your Bow for Proper Draw Length and Shooting Position.” Video. URL:

Discover Archery. “Measure Your Draw.” Website. URL: