Which Archery Target Do I Need?

Archers shoot big targets, little targets, bag targets, block targets, 3-D targets and more! The archery market offers many sizes and styles of targets, so let’s find one that’s right for you.

Tina Robb is a competitive recurve archer, USA Archery Level 3 coach, and program manager at Archery Headquarters in Chandler, Arizona. Robb uses and sells nearly every target available at archery stores nationwide. Below we discuss five types of targets, and learn which ones Robb recommends to her clients and customers.

But first, let’s review some definitions and determine your needs.

Basic Terminology

A “bale” refers to the target and the material it’s made from, such as hay, straw, cloth rags, high-density plastic foam, or foam scraps or layers. Some archers make target bales from compressed carpet, and materials like old clothes, cardboard, newspapers or magazines.

A “face” refers to the paper target you attach to your bale. Target faces come in 40-, 60-, 80- and 122-centimeter diameters. Make sure your bale is big enough for the target face you choose.

Quick tip: Beginners should start with a large bale and target face to ensure they don’t lose or ruin arrows that miss the mark.

Identify Your Needs

Beginners should start with a large bale and target face to ensure they don’t lose or ruin arrows that miss the mark. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Your archery goals and equipment determine the target you need. Will you shoot daily, weekly or monthly? Will you shoot inside or outside? Do you shoot a recurve or compound bow? Will you draw 15 pounds or 50? Your answers will help you choose the right target, no matter your goals, budget or equipment. So let’s weigh your options.

Hay Bales

Hay will often deteriorate quickly outdoors and even get munched by animals, so you’ll replace them often. It helps to cover them with a tarp or keep them in a barn or garage. Photo Credit: Clearwater Cottage Blog

Hay bales are made from herbaceous plants that were cut, dried and packed together. They’re suitable for beginners because they’re big and cheap, and arrows penetrate them easily. Youths and others shooting low-poundage bows have no problem getting arrows to stick in hay bales, which can also handle large target faces.

Hay bales, however, deteriorate quickly outdoors and even get munched by animals, so you’ll replace them often. It helps to cover them with a tarp or keep them in a barn or garage, but their bundles soon collapse when shot often.

You can often buy hay bales from stores that serve farmers and gardeners, such as Lowe’s, Walmart, Tractor Supply Co., The Home Depot and Mills Fleet Farm. Call first or visit their websites to confirm they carry hay bales.

Bag Targets

Beginners might also struggle to hit these smaller targets. Hang or mount bag targets off the ground so you don’t shoot downward at them. Photo Credit: ducsauce via Photobucket

Bag targets have a thick shell, usually woven polypropylene, and are stuffed with cotton or plastic-foam scraps. These midsize, inexpensive targets are easy to find, and they’re great for novice compound archers. They’re also portable, and can be quickly moved inside to avoid rain and sunlight, which degrade the material.

Youths and recurve archers might discover their arrows don’t always penetrate the bag’s tough, pliable surface. Beginners might also struggle to hit these smaller targets. Hang or mount bag targets off the ground so you don’t shoot downward at them. Secure them tightly so they can’t tip over backward or fall forward onto your arrows.

Robb recommends Morrell’s NASP Youth Target. Find it here. Another good option is the Hurricane Bag Target.

Layered Foam Block Targets

They hold up well and don’t shed residue as readily as bag targets do, unless you practice with broadheads. Photo Credit: kingsheath-archers.com

As their name implies, layered foam targets are made from plastic-foam layers. They’re great for archers who shoot regularly. They hold up well and don’t shed residue as readily as bag targets do, unless you practice with broadheads. Don’t leave these targets outdoors, and don’t shoot into the same spot day after day. Those actions weaken these targets and shorten their lifespan.

Robb recommends the Morrell Yellow Jacket Stinger Field Point Target, which has 38 foam layers. Find it here.

Solid Foam Block Targets

Most modular foam targets have replaceable sections that renew their life after countless shooting sessions. These targets are expensive, but their high-quality designs make them last. Photo Credit: Jake Kaminski via Facebook.

Solid foam targets can handle repetitive daily shooting by advanced archers because they’re made of high-density plastic foam. They usually have long lifespans and can tolerate weather, making them great for outdoor use. Most modular foam targets have replaceable sections that renew their life after countless shooting sessions. These targets are expensive, but their high-quality designs make them last.

Robb recommends Rinehart’s FITA Wave Target, which features high-density foam and five sections for replaceable inserts. Find it here. If you don’t want to spend that much money, check out the American Whitetail HybriMAT Prodigy Target here.

3-D Targets

Be sure to set up a backstop behind your 3-D target for occasional misses. Photo Credit: sure-shotarchery.net

3-D targets are excellent for bowhunting practice. These life-size animal targets help bowhunters gain perspective and experience shooting at spots not marked by bull’s-eyes. You can also position them to simulate hunting situations. A 3-D target helps you evaluate your shot placement to ensure clean, ethical shots at multiple angles.

These targets can be expensive, but most can handle broadheads, and they have replaceable inserts for their “vitals” section. Be sure to set up a backstop behind your 3-D target for occasional misses. A large piece of plywood or particle board suffices.

Rinehart Targets offers many options in 3-D animal targets, including bears, boars, deer, turkeys, predators and more.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the target you buy boils down to what you can afford and how long you want it to last. Meanwhile, if your focus is fun, check out these cool targets. And if you’re still unsure what to buy, ask your local retailer for advice. They’re happy to help!

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Longbow vs. Recurve: What’s the Difference?

Traditional archery is simple, nostalgic, challenging and arguably more fun than the sport’s other disciplines.

Traditional archers have their own flair with cool leather quivers and beautiful feather-fletched arrows. But it’s the bows that make traditional archery unique. They come in two main varieties, recurves and longbows.

What separates recurve bows from longbows? Recurves get their name from the bow’s swept tips, which curve away from the archer. Longbows lack those swept tips, but their limbs bend gracefully throughout the bow’s length. An easy way to tell the difference is whether the bowstring touches the bow’s limb. If it does, it’s a recurve. Even if the string nearly touches the limb, it’s still a longbow.

The differences don’t end at the tips. Both bows have unique traits. What’s the best traditional bow for you? Keep reading to find out.

Speed

If you’re looking for something quiet, consider choosing a longbow. Even without string silencers, longbows naturally have a quiet bowstring twang. Photo Credit: Dwyer Longbows

Fast arrows have flatter trajectories, which help you shoot farther accurately. If you want a fast-shooting bow, consider a recurve. Its speed comes from its curved tips, which store more energy than do straight limbs. Some longbows, however, rival the fastest recurves. These longbows have swept limbs that aren’t as extreme as a recurve’s, but generate similar arrow speeds.

Smoothness

Longbows and recurves increase in draw weight as they’re pulled back. A smooth-drawing bow is easy to pull at the start but its draw weight rapidly increases when nearing full draw. In contrast, a smooth-drawing bow evenly increases in weight and feels effortless to pull.

Recurve bows draw more smoothly, in general, but bow designs play significant roles in how they draw. Well-designed longbows can be incredibly smooth, especially if their length matches the archer’s draw length. Taller archers, for example, find longer bows smoother to draw than shorter bows.

Nostalgia

From ice-age hunters to medieval archers, longbows embody history. Traditional archers have their own flair with cool leather quivers and beautiful feather-fletched arrows. Photo Credit: ATA

For classical looks and historical appeal, longbows rule. From ice-age hunters to medieval archers, longbows embody history. Recurves have their own fascinating history. Mounted archers, for example, used recurves to conquer Asia. Recurves are also the choice of Olympians.

Quietness

Vibrations and bowstring “twang” generate bow noise. Loud bows aren’t less accurate, but some archers prefer shooting quiet bows. If you’re in that camp, consider choosing a longbow. They’re quiet even without string silencers, which further reduce bowstring twang. Recurves can be quieted with string silencers and proper tuning.

Which is Right for You?

Longbows and recurves have advantages and disadvantages. You can’t go wrong with either, and it’s simple to decide which one is best for you. How? Shoot some recurves and longbows at an archery shop, and choose the one that puts the biggest smile on your face.

To find a nearby archery store, start here.

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Get into archery from A to Z

When you give the gift of archery, you’re giving far more than a bow and arrows. You’re giving someone a hobby they can enjoy their entire life. How many other gifts have that impact?

Consider these three easy ways to give someone the best possible present this holiday.

A Surprise Shopping Trip

Once they choose a bow, they can pick out their arrows and accessories. One fun part of bow buying is making it unique by choosing accessories in matching colors. Photo Credit: ATA

Archery equipment is very personal and requires custom fitting. Buying someone a bow is like buying them clothes. If you don’t know their size and their style, they’ll end up using the gift receipt.

But here’s an even better idea: Surprise them with a trip to the archery store. Once there, ask the archery pro to take a few measurements and discuss the different bow types. After that, your archer will get to try several bows. Once they choose a bow, they can pick out their arrows and accessories. One fun part of bow buying is making it unique by choosing accessories in matching colors.

Once their bow is fitted and assembled, they can shoot it with help from the archery pro, who will teach them the basics and help adjust their sight. Consider signing them up for a few archery lessons so they can get beyond the fundamentals.

Buy Now, Set Up Later

enthusiast

Your archer won’t be able to unwrap the bow and start shooting right away, but you can still have fun by bringing them back to the shop later. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

If you want your budding archer to open their new bow on Christmas morning, buy them a bow and have the archery pro fit it to them later. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. When talking to the archery pro, provide the recipient’s age, height and strength level. That information helps the pro make informed recommendations for an appropriate bow.

Your archer won’t be able to unwrap the bow and start shooting right away, but you can still have fun by bringing them back to the shop later. They’ll enjoy meeting the archery pro and getting their bow fitted and tuned.

Sign Them Up for Lessons

Already find the perfect bow? Be sure to grab some lessons at your local shop as well. The best thing you can give your archer is some time at the range learning the tricks of the trade. Photo Credit: hdwallpaper.net

You can also get started in archery without buying a bow. Many shops provide rental equipment for lessons and group programs, which lets people get started without a big initial investment.

Signing them up for lessons or a program is easy. Just visit an archery shop and see what instructions they offer. You can pre-pay for the lessons or buy a gift card for the amount.

Gift Cards

enthusiast

When unsure before buying, you can always get a gift card. This way you can help pick out what they need with them right there in the store. Photo Credit: ATA

The easiest way to gift archery is a gift card. Just discuss your budget with the archery pro and buy a gift card that covers the cost of the bow and accessories. Then let your archer pick out the bow of their dreams.

Archery is an amazing sport that builds confidence, relieves stress and promotes exercise. That’s why it’s the best gift you can give! Find an archery store near you and spread archery’s holiday cheer.

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10 Gift Ideas for the Archer Who Has Everything

Holiday shopping can be difficult when it feels like your usual go-to gifts might be getting stale. What do you buy the archer that seems to have everything? If you feel you’re lost in a snow mound of ideas and your sleigh needs a little push, here are 10 non-gear-related archery gifts to get you back on track.

1. Clothes

Photo Credit: Spreadshirt.com

Many people love representing the sports they care about on their clothing. Get your archer a shirt with bows and arrows on it so they can rep their sport with pride.

2. Jewelry

Photo Credit Iris Jewelry Design via Etsy

Jewelry is a subtle way to show your interests through your everyday looks and a simple arrow necklace looks good with any outfit. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with gifting jewelry.

3. Shoes

Photo Credit: Groove Bags

Making a statement with fashion is an exhilarating feeling, especially when you’re confident in your choice. Archery-inspired shoes are the ideal gift if your archer likes to step out in style.

4. Notebooks

Photo Credit: jackdawbindery via Etsy

Who says school or the workplace have to be boring? Give the gift of an archery-themed notebook and put a smile on your archer’s face every time they’re taking notes.

5. Backpacks

Photo Credit GiftsHappenHere.com

If your archer is still in school, gift them with a backpack that will get them through the day by inspiring them to dream of the range. You just might find that they can’t wait to pick up their bag and go to school.

6. Mugs

Photo Credit: sauvages.typepad.com

Does your archer love coffee as much as their bow? Allow them to revel in their love of archery every morning with a bow-and-arrow mug. It’ll give them energy to take on the day and work hard at the range.

7. Phone Cases

Photo Credit: LovinaCases via Etsy

Our phones go with us everywhere, so they should be aesthetically pleasing, right? Make your archer’s phone easy on their eye and let them carry their love of archery in their pocket by giving them a bow-and-arrow phone case.

8. Home Décor

Photo Credit: Decor Amazon.

Home is where the heart is, and if your archer’s heart is with archery, give them home décor that helps express their passion for their favorite sport.

9. Bedding

Photo Credit Vision Bedding

Help your archer dream of the range while sleeping on archery-inspired bedding. Their room will look fashionable and unique, and visions of arrows will dance in their heads while they rest.

10. Car Decal

Photo Credit: Dakotas Decals via Etsy

If your archer is so into the sport that they want to shout it from the rooftops, give them a car decal. Seeing a fun archery decal on your loved one’s car just might inspire someone else to pick up a bow and discover a sport they can enjoy for a lifetime.

For the archer who already has all the gear they need, finding the perfect gift can be daunting. We hope these tips help set your sights on some creative archery gifts. If your archer is eager to show off their archery-inspired presents after the holidays, the local archery range is the best place let loose.

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10 Stocking Stuffers Every Archer Needs

After waking from your turkey-induced Thanksgiving nap, you might have realized just how little time you have to shop for the archer in your life. Luckily, you can find perfect gifts and stocking stuffers at your local archery shop.

Best of all, you don’t need to be an archery expert to shop like one. Use our list (and check it twice!) of 10 stocking stuffers to make sure your archery gifts are right on target.

Arrow Puller

Does your archer have a hard time retrieving their arrows from the target? An arrow puller will make it easier for them. Photo Credit: Scrapyard Archery

An arrow puller gives archers a better grip when removing arrows from the target. They’re made of rubber and are a must have in every archer’s quiver.

Arrow Lube

A sibling to the arrow puller, arrow lube also makes arrows easier to pull out of the target. Giving your archer both would make retrieving arrows a breeze. Photo Credit: Kiciuskit via YouTube

Arrow lube applied to the tip of an arrow makes them easier to pull from targets. It’s an excellent complement to an arrow puller, and together they prevent an archer from getting tired pulling arrows.

Bow Stand

Avoid damage to the bow by giving your archer a stand to set it on while they take a break from practicing. Photo Credit: huntingguides.com

If you know an archer who always leaves their bow in the grass, buy them a bow stand. It holds the bow upright and prevents accidental damage while the archer retrieves their arrows.

Bow Stringer

When a bow string breaks, you want to be able to put on another one immediately. Your archer can be their own handyman by stringing the bow themselves. Photo Credit: Merlin Archery

Every recurve and longbow archer needs a bow stringer to put their string on the bow. Even if they already own a bow stringer, they can always use a spare.

Bowstrings

Once you know what kind of strings your archer’s bow needs, you can order strings from a retailer in any color or combination, making it unique to them. Photo Credit: USA Archery

New bowstrings are an excellent gift that fit nicely in a stocking. To buy bowstrings you must know their exact length. Compound bows usually list the proper string length on the bow, or you can tell your archery pro the bow’s make and model. For recurves and longbows, measure the bowstring or bring it to the shop. You can also order bowstrings in any color combination for a unique look.

Bowstring Wax

This is an inexpensive product that will keep your strings practice or competition ready longer. Photo Credit: World Archery

To keep a bowstring in top condition, archers apply wax to their strings. This inexpensive product is part of every archer’s range gear.

Fletching

If your archer loves doing everything themselves, give them the tools to make their own arrows. You can find all the ingredients at your local archery range. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

If you know a handy archer that likes to do things themselves, a pack of fletching, fletching glue and a fletching jig is all they need to make arrows at home. The local archery shop will make sure you get all the supplies, and they can even provide the arrow shafts. If you bring in one of your archer’s arrows the archery store will know the exact length and size they need. Then they’ll cut the arrow shafts to length and glue in the inserts.

Bow Repair Kit

Your local archery shop is the place to go for bow work, but what happens if you need a repair while you’re at the range? Ask a salesperson to put together a kit with the basic tools and materials needed to make simple repairs. A typical kit includes Allen wrenches, bowstring serving, fletching glue and bowstring wax.

Release Aid or Finger Tab

Now that you’ve made retreiving arrows easier with an arrow puller, why not make the whole process seemless and give your archer a release aid as well. Photo Credit: ATA

If the person you’re shopping for has had their eye on a new release aid, surprise them by slipping it in their stocking. They’ll likely drop hints about the exact model they want. If not, you can’t go wrong with a gift card.

Gift Card

If you’re not sure what your archer needs, give them a gift card to their local archery shop where they can use their credit to purchase range time, custom gear, or even a new bow. Photo Credit: ATA

If you have no idea what to get the archer in your life, buy a gift card to their favorite archery shop so they can buy range time, archery lessons or any archery gadget their heart desires.

The way to an archer’s heart is through awesome archery gifts, which are just a short sleigh ride away. Find a nearby archery shop here.

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