DIY Archery Target for Compound Bows

DIY Archery Target
It may not be the most beautiful yard art, but it works great.

Why build a carpet target?

If you’re new to archery hunting and you think you can get by with just one small foam target, you can’t. If you are practicing as much as you should as a new archer, you will ruin a foam target very quickly.

Sure, it might be legal to only shoot your bow a couple of times before the season starts, but it’s not ethical. By the time your hunting season starts, shooting your bow should be instinctual – an extension of your body. Get (or build) a big, durable target so you can practice regularly and feel very confident when the opportunity comes to harvest an animal.

Here’s an idea for a DIY stacked carpet archery target that will last a long time even with very frequent use

We really like having a large, permanent target at home for tuning our bows and shooting into regularly without wearing the target out. We also have a cheap Black Hole foam target to shoot broadheads into once our bows are dialed (and to bring to hunting camp).

We have used this target for 40-75 pound compound bows as well as a longbow, and it has worked well for all of them.

Advantages:

Carpet targets cost next-to-nothing to make. The only real costs are the threaded rods which are $5-10 each, and the wood if you don’t already have some lying around.

They can be left outside indefinitely

Arrows pull out of the target easily and you can adjust the compression of the carpet by tightening or loosening the nuts.

You can shoot into them regularly and the arrows seem to pull out of the target easier and easier as the target wears

Disadvantages:

I wouldn’t shoot broadheads into it – they may get stuck and potentially damaged, but we haven’t tried.

It’s heavy enough that we wouldn’t build one if we had to move it around frequently, but not too heavy to move here and there. I’m guessing it weighs about 70 pounds.

It takes some time and labor to make – cutting the carpet took a couple of hours

I was going to make this target 3 feet by 3 feet, but I ran out of carpet and decided to just call it quits at 2 by 3 instead of going back to the carpet dumpster
Building these is very simple. A few scrap 2 by 4s, threaded metal rods, scrap carpet, and nuts and washers.

Tools you need are:

  • Gloves for handling old carpet – be careful of sharp objects hidden in the fibers!
  • A drill with a drill bit slightly larger than your threaded rods, and a bit for your screws
  • A couple of wrenches
  • A saw to cut the wood
  • A utility knife to cut the carpet

Supplies you need are:

The carpet – you want carpet that doesn’t have any rubber. Other than that, any will work. Call around to a couple of carpet stores to find out who has scrap carpet. Both times I have gone into a local carpet store and asked for scrap carpet they have had more than enough for me. Just be aware when you are choosing scrap carpet that there could be sharp razor blades, staples, or stinky carpet to avoid. The thicker the carpet is, the less you’ll need. In the photo above, every 10 pieces of carpet got me about 3″ in height. So for a 3 foot target, that is about 120 pieces of carpet. The thickness of the carpet will change this completely, so all you can really do is get some carpet, start cutting and stacking, and go from there.

Scrap wood – you can use 2-by-4s or whatever else you have lying around. It needs to be thick enough to withstand pressure (don’t use thin plywood). If you want it to really last a long time outdoors, I would consider using treated wood.

4 each of 3 foot zinc threaded rods – I used 3/8″ rods but 1/2″ would work well too. It would be interesting to try longer rods like 72″ to make a really tall (or wide) target. You can see in the first picture that I used 72″ rods and planned on maybe making it taller. That never happened, but it can’t really hurt to have longer rods.

12 nuts and 12 washers – make sure they’re the right size and thread count to match your threaded rods

A handful of screws to fasten the 2-by-4s to each other

Instructions:

I’m not going to get too precise about measurements here – everything will vary depending on what size you decide to make your target and what scrap wood you use.

Start by cutting the carpet – Cut the pieces of carpet so that your target is about 16-18″ in depth, i.e. if your target will be 3 feet wide, cut pieces of carpet that are 3 feet by 18″. This seems to be a good size for arrows not go all the way through and for the target to be stable.

Don’t worry too much about cutting the carpet precisely. I just cut out one piece of carpet at 3 feet by 18 inches and used that as a template to cut the rest. You can use a scrap 2 by 4 or a long ruler as a straight edge for your blade.

When you get enough carpet cut so that it stacks about 1.5 times taller than your desired target height, stop and make the wood frames.

To build the frames – use a couple of small scrap pieces to attach the two longer 2-by-4s together. Your frames, overall, should be 6″ longer than your carpet pieces. (if you want a 3 by 3 target your frames should be 42″ long). The frames should also be 16-18″ deep to match your carpet depth. Keep in mind while building the bottom frame that you want it to be as flat as possible.

Drill holes in the ends of the top frame, then stack the top frame directly on top of the bottom frame to line the frames up. Drill holes in the bottom frame directly in line with the holes in the top frame.

To assemble – Stack the carpet onto the bottom frame and once it is as high as you like, put the top frame onto the top of the carpet and slide the rods through the holes. Put nuts below and above the bottom frame, and above the top frame. This will hold the bottom frame in place and allow you to tighten or loosen the top frame.

Tighten the nuts on the top frame to compress the carpet partially. Next, lay the whole target down on it’s face. Tap the carpet on top (well… the back of the target, opposite of the face that you will shoot) until it is all even on the bottom (the face of the target). Tighten the nuts down more to make sure the target won’t fall apart when you lift it back up.

Once its up, you’ll want to shoot into the target to see how it performs. If your arrows are going through too far, you need to tighten the nuts. If your arrows are getting stuck in the target and are hard to pull out, loosen the nuts.

Our target has withstood years of blazing sun, pouring rain, heavy snow, and countless arrows. We hope yours does the same. Good luck and feel free to comment or email us if you have any questions!



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