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DIY Backstops: Complete Your At-Home Range

Have you been practicing your shooting form at home, only to grow weary of chasing stray arrows around? Try putting a backstop behind your target and save yourself the hassle.

A backstop is material placed behind archery targets to catch arrows. Backstops are normally made of a thick, spongey material that absorbs the arrow’s shock. If you released an arrow into a wall, fence or anything else solid, the arrow would break upon impact. Backstops give the arrow something to sink into if it sails past the target. Keep in mind that while backstops will help provide a larger base for the arrows to land, you should always make sure you have a wall behind the target and backstop or plenty of open space.

Hay bales are a great, inexpensive way to create a backstop for your arrows. Photo Credit: Clearwater Cottage Blog

The most common and inexpensive backstop is a hay bale. The hay is very forgiving, although it won’t last as long as a foam material. The hay bales will still serve their purpose, but you might need to rearrange it regularly and fill in any gaps that come about with use.

You can also use foam play mats – the kind that young children use in classrooms. Or other floor mats work too. No matter the material, always use an arrow puller to remove the arrows from the stop. If an arrow gets stuck, you could break it by trying to yank it out. An arrow puller gives you a good grip so you can pull cleanly without breaks.

Make sure your backstop is wider and higher than your target so you don’t have to run around to collect stray shots that miss their mark. If you need to work on your precision, or you’re practicing with a novice, a backstop will help you avoid losing arrows in the woods or backyard.

Choose a material that is long-lasting and can hold up through many rounds. Photo Credit: Tradgang

Your backstop should also be sturdy – how much so partially depends on the intensity of your draw weight. The higher the draw weight on the bow, the more force behind the arrow. For a lower draw weight, you can probably afford a thinner backstop. As you practice with your backstop, you’ll see how the material absorbs the velocity of the arrows and adjust accordingly. The fix may be as simple as moving the target and backstop further away.

The supply list is fairly minimal. All you need is:

  • A horse stall mat, foam play mat or hay bales
  • 2x4s or cables
If you’re feeling crafty, you can build the backstop yourself. Photo Credit:

You can build your backstop against your fence, create a frame for your target and backstop, or leave it free-standing. If you build your own stand, hang the backdrop from the same pipes or boards you used for the stands. Hay bales can remain free standing and can be stacked as high or wide as necessary.

Backstops are an often-overlooked part of the archery arsenal, but it’s never too late to start using one. Save yourself broken arrows and broken fences by building your own backstop in just a few hours. Backstops are a time-saver and safety precaution that can benefit every archer.



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