How To Set Up a Backyard Archery Range: A Step-By-Step Guide

by | Nov 3, 2022

If you’ve done archery for any length of time, you’ll know how addictive it can become. But getting to the range or the club as often as you’d like can prove difficult. This could mean that seeing regular improvements in your skill level can easily drop off if you’re not getting in the practice hours. Solution?

Build Your Own Archery Range At Home!

Sounds like a ton of work, right? Well, you might be surprised at just how easy it can be. Once you’ve checked that it’s legal in your area to practice archery at home, all you need to do is work out how much space you have available, build your archery target and target stand, and then put your archery backstop in place.

Building an archery range at home can seem like a pipe dream to some. You think of the word ‘range’ and you immediately think of wide open spaces with minuscule targets way off in the distance. So how do you replicate that in your own backyard?

In the following guide, we’ll lay out everything you need to know, as well as all the materials you’ll need to get started in putting together your very own archery paradise!

How Do You Build An Archery Range At Home?

We’ve outlined everything you need to know to get started on your backyard archery range, as well as highlighting some of the more common questions that are asked before committing yourself. So let’s dive into the first one!

1. What Are The Legalities of Setting Up An Archery Range At Home?

Depending on where you live, each State, City, County, Town or Village will have its own rules as to whether or not you can practice archery at home.

If you’re in any doubt, check with your local council, or police department for clarification on any potential code violations you may be about to commit.

If it’s not legal where you reside, then unfortunately you’ll be traipsing back to your local archery club.

2. What Is The Best Backyard Archery Range Orientation?

Have you thought about which direction you’re going to be shooting in? Are you a morning or afternoon shooter?

These are questions you’ll need to answer if you want to get the best light for your practice. The layout of your property is going to determine much of what you can do in terms of range planning, and in some cases, you’ll have to make the best of what you have.

Hopefully, you can avoid getting out there to shoot after setting everything up only to find that you’re facing directly into the blinding afternoon sun.

Shooting from South to North is going to be the ideal orientation for most people. East to West, the worst. South-facing is also best avoided due to the blinding low winter sun.

You may find that you can utilise something like the surrounding trees to give you some cover against the sun if you don’t have a choice as far as direction goes.

3. How Much Space Do You Need For A Backyard Archery Range?

The reality is, not very much. You could even just stick up a target in your garage and shoot from a few metres away. It really doesn’t matter.

But if you have enough space available to go big, then go for it. If you don’t, then cut the targets to half the size you would normally use at longer distances.

Measure your distances out

Are you a competitor, or a bow-hunter?

This will determine your range layout. If you’re a competitor, then just measure out your competition distances and off you go.

If you’re a hunter, then you’ll want to think about where and how you’re going to strategically place your 3D targets to replicate hunting conditions such as level changes and different angles.

First, you’ll need to mark off your maximum shooting distance. You can do this with a measuring tape, or by either pacing it out or for even more accuracy, using a measuring wheel. Then you’ll need to set your firing lines.

4. How To Mark Off Archery Firing Lines At Home

Next, you can set your markers for the different distances you intend to shoot from, for example, 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards, depending on the space you have.

This all depends on your range layout. You could mark off your distances by setting bricks or paving stones into the ground. Just dig enough depth to sink the brick with just the top flush to the ground. Or you could set out poles at the side of your range to mark the yardage.

If you want to shoot at night, you could place lights to mark your firing lines and illuminate your target and backstop.

5. How To Build An Archery Backstop

In general, building an archery backstop can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. A simple method is to take something like a horse stall mat and suspend it from a wooden frame.

You can erect the frame using a selection of 2 x 4’s and bracket them to provide you with a sturdy enough base to attach your stall mat.

You can check out the video below to see how a simple frame and Stall Mats go together.

If you want something less permanent, an additional tip is to add a set of wheels onto your frame. If you need to vary the distances you shoot at it’ll be much easier to move the backstop because once you’ve got everything set up, that backstop is going to be really heavy!

Selecting your materials will be the most important step before you start building. The good thing is, you have a lot of options.

Backstop Netting

Netting is great if you want that extra level of safety and security for your neighbours. It’s made from tightly knitted nylon mesh and is guaranteed to prevent arrows from passing through.

Hay Bales

Not practical for everybody, but if you do have the opportunity to get your hands on one from local farmers and suppliers, they are usually inexpensive. Best to ratchet the bales tightly, otherwise the density can become inconsistent over time allowing arrows to pass through from repeated use.

Layered Foam

Layered foam is also a good option. Made from polyethene, you can buy this online in large quantities for a fairly good price. Can easily be doubled or tripled for extra thickness depending on the strength of your bow.

Carpet Sheets

This one is probably the most accessible as everybody has carpet. Or you can visit your local homeware store and ask for an offcut. Then you can just hang it from the fence or between two uprights. Dead easy!

6. How Big Does My Archery Backstop Need To Be?

This depends on a couple of things. Does your range back onto a neighbour’s house? Or are you surrounded by open land? Common sense should play its part in the size of your backstop.

But as a general rule, it’s better to have a backstop that rises at least a couple of feet above the target.

Planning for the worst thing that could happen is probably the best approach. Arrows will miss the target, no matter how good you are. They’ll go under, over, around and sometimes through the target. You just need to prepare for every eventuality.

Your neighbours will feel much better knowing that you’ve done everything you can to put their minds at rest, especially if they have young children and small pets running around.

7. How High Off The Ground Should Your Archery Target Be?

There are no hard and fast rules about what height you should set your archery targets unless you’re a competitive archer, in which case you will be setting out your targets at the height your competition rules suggest.

With this being a backyard archery range, safety is the number one priority here. Setting targets close to the ground is the safest option, especially if young children are going to be shooting.

But if you’re confident enough in your backstop building skills, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have your targets at the more conventional height of 48″ (130cm) for the centre of the target and a 70-degree incline.

Your own personal space on your property can also determine your target height. You may find things easier if you hang your target from a low-hanging tree branch, or you can use the frame from a child’s swing.

8. What Kind Of Archery Target Should I Get?

There are so many options on the market for at-home archery targets catering to all levels of budget, but If you feel like having a go at making your own, there are plenty of materials available. In fact, I wrote a whole article on DIY Archery targets that you can read here.

While some folks may want to go the creative route with building their own targets, it’s not for everyone. You can take the easier and simpler route and go straight over to Amazon where they have plenty of useful ideas for at-home archery targets:

Straw Target

Simple to use and very portable, this straw target is one of the most popular on the market for at-home archery.

Foam Box Target

Another portable, easy-to-use target. Perfect for placing on the ground for younger archers and beginners.

Bag Target

A great addition to your backyard archery range; easily transportable and can stop arrows from the most powerful bows.

3D Target

If you’re an avid hunter, these 3D animal replicas will give your backyard range an authentic hunting experience.

9. What If I Have Limited Space For A Backyard Archery Range?

Not everybody has acres of space right off their back porch. But that doesn’t;t mean that you can’t set up a backyard archery range. You just have to be a little more creative with it.

If you have a garage, you’re in luck. You can set up your target and backstop at the back of your garage. Then with the door open, you can shoot into the garage from the driveway.

If you don’t have enough garage space but have a long driveway, simply place your target and backstop at the end and use the length of your drive as your range.

You can even find creative ways to shoot inside your house. I wrote an article all about how you can shoot archery indoors. You can jump to that article right here.

10. Safety Considerations For Backyard Archery

There are probably a few more safety considerations for archery at home than you may have thought of.

The main thing to remember is that you need to protect those living with you, and those living around you. Oh, and don’t forget your pets as well.

I wrote an article covering all aspects of shooting safely at home, which you can read here.

Key Takeaways

The most important takeaway I can suggest when creating your own backyard archery range is to have fun. There are so many ways to customise your own little archery paradise, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Even if you don’t have that much space available to you, there are still ways you can get some practice in with as little as a few metres of space.

Improvement will only come with daily practice, and there’s nothing like practising right at home if you’re short on time.

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