A backyard range is a great way to practice archery. It’s affordable and convenient. However, too many archers put down the bow when the temperatures drop and drive them inside. But you don’t need to let cold weather keep you away from archery. Why not bring your backyard range indoors?
Passionate archers have figured out the trick to practicing archery year-round. Having an indoor range is possible in most homes. Before you consider an indoor range, safety needs to be the top priority. You will need to look into your location restrictions about shooting weapons. If you’re a renter, check with your landlord. Also, apartments, condos and similar shared spaces may not be the right fit.
You may initially think your space is too small. Who has room for a 40-yard range indoors? Most people don’t. But having minimal space isn’t actually a bad thing. It just needs to be a safe space. Even shooting at 5 yards will develop key abilities and not only keep you in shooting shape but improve some areas of your performance.
In an indoor range, you’ll need the right backstop. This is something that will catch arrows if they miss the target. You never want to be shooting where an arrow could go into an occupied room. Arrows can damage walls, doors and other homebuilding materials, so that’s not a good enough backstop. Always shoot in a safe direction and be sure to have the proper backstop to catch any arrows. Outside many people use hay bales, but this isn’t ideal for inside — unless your range is in a barn or other outbuilding.
Find a material that can catch arrows without damaging the arrow. Many archers choose to use a big bag target as a backstop. They will then place a smaller target in front of the bag target. Another option is to DIY a cardboard backstop. Collect a bunch of flattened cardboard. Build a wooden frame to house the cardboard. Cut the cardboard the size of the frame. Ratchet strap all the cardboard together and place it inside the wood frame. This, however, is best for recurves and compounds with a draw weight of less than 50 pounds. Large pieces of absorbent foam and horse stall mats also work well.
Once you have a safe direction to shoot, a proper backstop and a target, you’re ready to roll. Even though you’re shooting in a safe direction, if there are other people in the home it’s always a best practice to let them know you’re shooting. Some archers create signs that say “shooting” to let people know. If you’re shooting down a hallway, it’s essential to make sure no one is in the rooms who can step into the hallway. Always be sure to tell everyone when you’re done too.
Most home indoor ranges are less than 20 yards. This provides a great opportunity for archers to focus on their form. You only need 5 yards to work on proper shot execution. Small spaces allow the perfect way to practice your release and build strength. Improving your accuracy at close range and perfecting your form will make you a better archer when you go to shoot longer distances. Plus, when you’re inside you won’t have to battle any weather elements like wind or rain.
Shooting inside is a great way to improve, but if you feel yourself getting bored, find ways to make it challenging. Try setting up your smartphone and taking video of your form to identify areas of improvement. Many athletes review videos to work on form. Invite a friend over and have a tournament. Or, shoot an arrow a day and track your progress.
While having an indoor range is a great way to keep shooting in the winter months, it’s not an option for some people. But just because you can’t shoot at home doesn’t mean you need to put away your bow. Many archery shops have indoor ranges. They often have punch cards or monthly memberships. Some shops even have techno-shooting equipment that simulates hunting through video. Winter is also a popular time for leagues, which can be really fun and help you meet new friends.
Winter weather is on its way, and while it might drive you inside, don’t let it mess up your shooting.