Bowhunting is a challenging sport when compared to the more conventional hunting with firearms. However, as with firearms, it is necessary to hone your archery skills for the hunting season. This is especially true for bow hunting because of the unique challenges it poses to the hunter.
Though there are plenty of archery ranges to hone your skills, it becomes expensive in the long run. It is also inconvenient if the range is some distance off from where you live. Also, the lack of privacy or the presence of other archers in the vicinity would be troublesome for some of us.
It would be awesome if you could set up an archery range in your backyard. You can get a quick practice whenever you want to. It will help you develop a new technique or simply hone your skills in the privacy of your home.
How to Turn your Backyard Into an Archery Range
It is very easy to set up your backyard archery range. Here is how to do it-
Safety is mandatory
Safety considerations are paramount. Imagine if the neighborhood kid or a pet strays in the line of fire! Also, many local laws treat bows on par with firearms. These laws govern where and how you should use your bows. Learn about laws about shooting bow and arrows in your area before setting up your backyard archery range.
Install a secure fence around your backyard if you do not have one. A solid wooden fence will not only prevent nosy neighbors and pets from straying but will also provide a second line of defense for stray arrows.
The importance of backstops
Even experienced archers miss the target sometimes. Unless you live in a remote area with woods in the background, a backstop is necessary. Even with woods in the background, stray arrows get lost. Arrows do not come cheap. It makes sense to have a backstop to catch stray arrows and prevent nasty accidents.
A good backstop catches stray arrows without damaging them. So, a padded backstop is the way to go. A backstop can be made from any soft material that will catch the arrow without damaging it. The best material commonly used is the rubber mat used in horse stalls.
These rubber mats are ideal because they are affordable, soft so that arrows are not damaged, and can easily be suspended behind the target with the help of cross beams. They catch stray arrows easily without damaging them. They also last a long time.
DIY targets at home
Targets are costly. You can sometimes offset the costs by going for a group buy with your fellow archers. You can easily DIY your targets. The most popular material used is strips of old carpet compressed together. These are heavy enough to withstand the impact and kind on the arrows and long-lasting.
3D targets are costly. But they are invaluable when it comes to simulating the form of your prey. You can buy seconds if your pocket is not deep enough. These seconds are considerably cheaper and contain minor imperfections, and in many cases are not noticeable. The best time to buy them is during spring.
You can even make 2D animal targets printed on paper or plastic and stick them to your targets. These cost-effective targets are a good alternative to 3D targets. Plastics ones are more durable and can withstand the elements and last the whole season.
Make bow stands yourself
It is important to have a proper stand for your expensive bows to keep them safe in between practice. Every range has a bow stand for this purpose. Making your bow stand is easy! All you need to do is to sink a post in the ground and screw in some bow hangers.
The best bow stands can be made with sturdy PVC plastic pipes. They are strong enough to hold a few bows and can be easily shifted if you want to change shooting positions or mow that area. If you want to buy one, you can also scour online stores for a good deal.
Make it challenging
To prepare for actual hunting, you need to make your practice challenging. Shooting flat in your backyard range is comfortable. You can make it tough by practicing shooting from different elevations. You can get a tree stand or even climb up a tree in your backyard and shoot from there.
While shooting from above gives you great practice, it is important to secure yourself with a lifeline. It is also convenient is you have a hanger to store your bow when you get down to retrieve arrows.
Now that you have learned to set up your backyard archery range, go out and practice. Always follow all safety considerations and make it as challenging as possible to simulate real hunting in the woods. With proper practice, you will never bemoan the ‘the big one’ that got away.