Is Backyard Archery Safe? (8 Things You Need To Know)

by | Jul 28, 2022

While shooting at the range will always be the archer’s preferred choice, sometimes it’s just not possible. So what are your options? Well, that long backyard might be a good idea, right? You can just throw up an archery target at the bottom of the garden and grab your bow – but hold on. To ensure that your backyard archery is safe and secure, there are a few things we need to consider first!

In general, backyard archery is a safe alternative to the range. However, most archery clubs and associations don’t endorse the practice. Whilst in your club, you’ll likely be covered by some form of insurance, because accidents can and do happen. If you’re shooting outside a registered club, then you are responsible for your own safety, and that of others.

That being said, if you’re set on building a backyard archery range, there are some basic points to go over. So let’s get into it.

Is Backyard Archery Safe? 8 Tips Your Need To Know

1. Is Backyard Archery Legal?

Check with your council, town or city’s website. They should provide you with details and guidelines. Failing that, try calling a local archery shop, or even the Police.

Most towns will have some kind of ordinance stipulating the rules for use of any kind of weapons within a certain distance from your home.

2. Talk to Your Neighbours Before You Set Up Your Range

As a general courtesy to those living on either side or behind you, it’s probably advisable to have a conversation with them regarding your plans to start discharging arrows in your backyard.

Nosey Neighbours!

They will have concerns. Especially if they have small children, cats and dogs, etc. This is your chance to let them know how you will be making the area as safe as you can and answer any questions they might have. You can also let them know when you plan to shoot so that they can keep their pets indoors.

3. Aim Away From Houses

If you have neighbours that back onto you, you definitely want to avoid shooting in the direction of their house. Even if you have a backstop in place, the likelihood that a stray arrow will find its way over the top or around the side is very high. So make sure that you are not shooting toward any areas like open roads, schools, or playgrounds.

4. Plan On Missing – A Lot!

Murphy’s Law definitely applies to archery. What can happen, will happen. Accidents will happen. Even if you’re an experienced archer, missing the target will happen at some point.

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re shooting at 30 yards, add on another 25 yards of space behind your target. If you don’t have that amount of space you could think about hanging a sheet of rubber, or carpet behind your target just in case.

Equipment failures are also likely, so keep that in mind, especially with the number of arrows you’re likely to shoot in your backyard.

If you have a steep hill in your backyard, setting up a target at the bottom is a great option. The hill will act as a natural backstop.

One more thing when considering space is to make sure that you have enough space on either side of your range.

Using the 30-yard example, you should be aiming to add an additional 15 yards on either side of the range to catch any errant arrows.

5. Never Set Your Archery Target In Front Of a Solid Wall

People often think that there’s no safer backstop than the garage wall. Well, think about this. Your arrow glances off the top of the target and hits the wall. The arrow rebounds off the wall and flies straight back to you. Not a great day out.

If you have to set your target in front of a solid wall, you could hang a rubber mat or a sheet of carpet in front of the wall. The alternative is to make sure you put the target at least 15 yards in front of the wall. That way you’ll avoid any return traffic from down range.

6. Set Your Archery Target Close to The Ground

Placing a box target on the ground is a really safe way of backyard shooting.

Low Archery Target

A downward angle is a much safer way of shooting. If you’re aiming at a downward angle, if you do miss, the arrow will likely embed itself in the ground. Much safer than risking an arrow shooting over the top of your backstop.

To find out which type of archery target you should use at home you might be interested in reading this article I wrote

7. Never Sky Draw In A Backyard Archery Range

Another safety tip is how you draw your bow. If you start your draw by bringing your bow up to a 45-degree angle before levelling it down to the target, then this is what is known as a sky drawing.

This is something that you should avoid at all costs, at the range, as well as at home as there is always a chance that you could accidentally release the arrow prematurely.

8. Observe Good Archery Range Rules (Even at Home)

Just like at the range, you should be setting your own backyard range rules to be strictly adhered to at all times.

This means that if you have any pets make sure that you’re keeping them indoors when you’re shooting.

Let everybody at home know when you’re shooting, Including the neighbours. This avoids the scenario of anyone unsuspectingly walking through a door and into your line of fire.

Make sure people know where your shooting line is. Just like at the range, make sure that your shooting line is clearly marked so that everyone can see it. You can also use range commands to let people know when it’s safe and that you’re collecting your arrows, or when you’re getting ready to shoot.


Shooting at home in your very own backyard range can be especially rewarding, and a lot of fun. Just keep in mind a few simple but necessary rules when asking yourself the question, is my backyard archery safe? Hopefully the above guide will keep you on the right track.

If you still have any lingering doubts about how to go about setting up your backyard range, then you could take some photos of the space you have available and take them to your local archery shop. They should be able to give you the best advice on what steps to take to get the best and safest outcome.