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5 Ways to Spice Up Archery Practice

Archery is fun, but it’s possible to get burned out with daily training, same as runners, swimmers and other athletes do. Shooting your bow should never feel like a chore or an obligation. But if you aren’t feeling motivated to take up the ol’ stick and string, maybe you just need to spice up your practice sessions. Here’s how. 

Cool Targets

One good way to make target shooting more fun is to implement fun targets. Target companies are on board with this idea with 3D models of different big-game species and even twists like dinosaurs, sasquatches, dragons and zombies.

Shooting reactive targets is more exciting than shooting paper or 3D targets. Try popping balloons (or even balloons filled with powder or colored water). Shoot rotten fruit, old jack-o’-lanterns or giant puffballs. Or let off some steam by breaking old Christmas ornaments, clay pigeons or even a piñata. If you’re really good, you might be able to snuff out a candle flame with an arrow.

Classic Games

A quick internet search will reveal all sorts of archery games you can play, either alone or with friends. Remember playing H-O-R-S-E with a basketball? Challenge your friends to a game with archery targets. Or play split the arrow. Make an “arrow” out of a cardboard tube decorated with feathers. Then tape it to a backstop and try to shoot your arrow into the tube. Archery golf is another fun, competitive game to play with friends. Set out a target at a distance and see who can hit it in the lowest number of shots. Place several targets on the course for different “holes.” Set up a tic-tac-toe board against a backstop. This game will test your shooting skills and your mental abilities. In the same vein, you can set out all 52 cards in a deck and then shoot them for a high-stakes poker game. Or why not make a dartboard out of cardboard and then play cricket, 301 or any of your other favorite dart games? Of course, you could always just set up a standard competitive archery target and challenge your friends to see who gets the high score. 

Combat Archery

Combat archery is a new game similar to laser tag or paintball, but with low-poundage bows and foam-tipped arrows. You’ll need this specialized archery equipment, plus a face shield. Like laser tag, this game is often played in an obstacle-strewn arena. Gather up some friends, split into teams and have fun!

Set a Course

For realistic, in-field practice, you might set up a 3D course similar to a sporting clays course, where you take shots from behind stumps, beneath limbs or with other natural objects in the way. Or try a game inspired by the biathlon where, instead of skiing and shooting a rifle, you run around a course and shoot your bow at targets. Time yourself and add a penalty if you miss the target. You can compete against yourself or challenge your friends.


Entering a competitive shoot can be a great way to spend a weekend and meet other shooters. Or attend one of the growing number of archery festivals. These events combine a shoot with camaraderie, food, sports show exhibits and sometimes even live music. It can be a fun event for the whole family.

If you really want to get jacked up about archery, watch an exhibition shooter at a sports show or on YouTube. The skill some people can achieve with a bow and arrow is almost incomprehensible. Although some shots may come with a “don’t try this at home” warning, you’ll likely see several that you can try on your home range. Who knows, with practice, you might be able to amaze your friends with your own trick shots.

Here’s a link to some archery games:

Here’s a link to some archery festivals from around the country:



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