Itís a lot of fun to set up your own archery range by building targets instead of buying them. This is especially true if you have friends close by to help you. In my case I have three grandsons who shoot and like to get involved in helping out.
I make some targets by glueing together perhaps ten layers of cardboard. When the glue has set, I further glue on a drawing of whatever creature I prefer, and then, using a saw, cut them out. After that, depending on the time I have available, I will paint the targets to be lifelike or simply fill them in to be silhouettes. This way I can have anything up to life sized rabbits, coyotes, deer, or whatever I want. For shooting that is closer than normal hunting distances, I can scale the targets down in size to simulate hunting encounters. Bill Cunningham showed me how to make bag targets from burlap sacks he buys for one to two dollars from coffee shops or the local feed supply stores and stuffing them with plastic shopping bags he saves. He also uses the plastic shrink wrap that places like WalMart or Home Depot use to bind together boxes on pallets. They can sometimes be talked into saving it for you and it makes fantastic arrow stops. By stuffing the bags as full as you can with either bags or shrink wrap and sewing or tying the top of the bag closed, you can make a target that will take hundreds of hits and that costs spit money.
It can be difficult to extract arrows from cardboard, so I usually carry something to grip the shafts better than just my hand. Some good arrow extractors can be had from archery supply shops such as Valley Traditional Archery, 3Rivers, or Cabellaís, or you can make one from whatever scraps of leather or leather and rubber you might have lying around.
When I know that the grandsons are coming over Iíll get some helium balloons and stake them to the ground with a dirt bank behind the balloons. These are grand, cheap, targets and if there is a breeze blowing surprisingly challenging. A great kick and makes me glad I made plenty of arrows.
Another great target you can make is to stack cardboard about four feet by four feet and bind it with metal or plastic strapping. If you donít have the tools to do the job, you can often borrow them from work or an archery range. You can also just get the ratcheting nylon straps from the bargain bin at the local hardware store and crank them down really tight. A method Bill C. uses is to put stout boards on top and bottom of the cardboard and squeeze them down on the cardboard by drilling holes in the boards and inserting all-thread in them. He uses large washers under the nuts and really tightens them down. He even goes so far as to make dog-houses for them with metal roofs. They last for years and if the centers get too beat up from repeated good shooting, he loosens the all-thread, removes the damaged portions, and replaces them with new cardboard. You can get the cardboard from any source that regularly throws boxes away, such as the local grocery or liquor stores. If you donít want to make shelters for the cardboard targets, you can stretch rubber or plastic tarps over the top to protect them from the elements. If there is construction going on in your area you can often get scraps of sound board to use instead of cardboard. This stuff is about a half inch thick and the scraps are usually about eight feet long by six or eight inches wide. It will even take hits from broadheads and is easier to extract arrows from. You donít even have to protect soundboard. It stands up well in rain, snow, or sun.
I think the most fun you can have with archery is getting together with a friend or friends and go out stump shooting. When I go afield with Bill we walk along and take turns picking out a target such as a stump or bush at varying distances and having a go at it. Then we walk up and retrieve our arrows, pick another target and shoot from that spot. We sometimes cover a few miles. If you are going to do this, do it with judo tips on your arrow shafts. It will save you from losing a lot of arrows.
If you are a city dweller or live in the Ďburbs, you can still shoot archery equipment. It doesnít make much noise, doesnít take much time, and doesnít usually scare neighbors. You can shoot in your garage, house or apartment, back yard or basement. You only need seven to ten yards to keep your shooting form and release in tune.
Archery already is big as a sport in and of itself. There is an annual meet in Las Vegas that has a million dollar pay out. And as in the golden years of archery it is attracting more and more participants. Strangely, in this era of compound bows and electronic sights, primitive and traditional archery is the fastest growing segment. I am certain that the sport of archery is going to become big at rendezvous.