How to Choose the Best Archery Target
Every bowhunter has at some point been puzzled over which archery target to purchase. It’s no wonder, given the range of types and styles out there. Gone are the days of ruining the fletching by shooting through old hay bales. Today’s targets are best matched to a specific style of bow, arrow, and broadhead or tip.
Let’s discuss the three main types of archery targets below. From there, you can decide which style meets your bow setup the best. Then you’re off to the races!
Bag targets are the most basic style of archery target, and nearly every bowhunter has owned or practiced on one of these. Bag targets generally contain a synthetic fiber fill that easily stops your arrow, and yet still offers easy arrow removal. They are superb for repetition in the early summer practice sessions. They hold together very well and have a large surface to accommodate mishaps when sighting in during the spring or summer.
That all being said, bag targets are really only meant for field points. Broadheads will very likely stay buried in the target and they will shred the outer covering that keeps the fill contained, so avoid using them. Also, if you don’t keep your bag target out of the elements, they will likely soak up the rain and deteriorate quicker. However, many newer bag targets are made to be more weather-resistant than previous versions.
The suggested use for bag targets is to use them on an indoor range where you can leave them hung in-place. That way, you don’t have to haul around an awkward bag target every time you practice. Feel free to use any type of compound bow setup, but make sure you use field points.
Foam Layer Block Targets
Foam layer targets are the next step up from bag targets. They are lightweight and portable, offer fairly easy arrow removal for light bows, and are economical to boot. Foam layer archery targets work by pinching the arrow between foam layers, using friction to stop its momentum instead of force. Although you can use broadheads on these targets, field points will dramatically increase the life of your target.
The only real limitation to foam layer targets is that a heavy draw weight may bury arrows fairly deep before friction stops them, which means a more difficult removal process. You also need to be aware of your shooting angle. Since they work by pinching the arrow between layers, you don’t want to be shooting through or across layers if you can avoid it. One way to combat this is by turning the block so that the layers are arranged vertically instead of horizontally. This way, the arrow should slide between layers regardless of the vertical shot angle.
The suggested use for foam layer targets is for practice sessions outside, where you can quickly set it up and start shooting from a tree stand or at ground level. Again, use field points more often to extend the target’s life. Also be cognizant about heavy bows and potential arrow removal difficulties.
3D Practice Targets
One of the best archery targets to prepare yourself for real life hunting situations is a 3D foam target. They come in virtually every animal species (alive and extinct) to provide for a fun experience. Many have various overlay options, including showing the vitals on the outside to let you know exactly where your arrow would hit, or point values used in competitive shooting.
The only limitation is that the foam cores can wear out with repetition. However, most 3D archery targets have replaceable mid-sections to prolong the life of the overall target. They are best used with field points, as you may lose a broadhead inside the foam core.
Use 3D targets to practice life-like hunting simulations. Set your target up within a realistic setting, and practice from a tree stand to get ready for next season. This type of archery practice will get you used to shooting at the silhouette of your actual target game animal. The targets are light enough to quickly set up for a couple shots in the woods or down the range.
Regardless of what type of archery shooting you primarily do, there is an archery target specifically for you. All types have their purpose and can be used to great effect to make you a better archer.