Types Of Archery Targets

May 10, 2021Archery Basics

Every archer needs a target for practice. Since you’ll need to choose from one of the many different types of archery targets available these days, understanding which one works for you is your next step. As a beginner, you need to learn about all the different types so you can make an educated decision when purchasing your first archery target. Whether it’s for sport or hunting, practicing supports your ability to shoot at your very best.

Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing the right archery target. The types of archery targets you choose will have a direct impact on your shooting skills. So what are some of the more popular targets archers choose to use? Paper targets, bag targets, block targets, and 3D targets.

Archery Target Basics

Part of being a good archer is understanding the language. When it comes to target terminology, you need to recognize the different parts of a target, as well as learn about the types of materials often used to make an archery target. Once you learn these target basics, you’re on your way to making a decision that’s right for you.

Target Materials:
  • Hay, Straw, Cloth Rags, Dense Plastic Foam, Foam Scraps, Foam Layers, Compacted Carpet, Compressed Cardboard, Bundled Newspapers, Magazine Stacks, Compacted Rubber, Compressed Excelsior
Target Parts
  • Backstop: An archery target backstop refers to materials placed behind a target to stop any arrows that miss the target.
  • Bale: A target bale refers to hay bales or any bale material used to stop an arrow.
  • Target Butt: Target butt is a term used to describe the platform used to hold a target.
  • Target Face: This term describes the actual paper target attached to a target bale.

What Are Your Needs?

In order for you to choose the best archery target, you’ll need to decide which archery style is right for you. Your answers to the questions below are important, as determining your archery style helps you determine the right target that supports your shooting style. For those who use broadheads, be sure to choose a target specifically designed to handle the increased cutting power.

  • Are you shooting inside or outside?
  • Do you prefer close or far away?
  • Are you using a recurve bow or a compound bow?
  • What’s your draw weight?
  • Do you participate in daily, weekly, or monthly shooting?
  • Target shooting and/or hunting?

Once you have answers to questions such as these, you’re well on your way to determining the best types of archery targets for you!

5 Types of Archery Targets

When most people think of an archery target, the traditional bullseye target comes to mind. This popular archery symbol has circular rings that start on the outside and then get smaller and smaller until only a small yellow space remains in the very center, aka the bullseye. As a beginner archer, you should use a larger backstop and target face. Choosing a larger target to begin with helps to ensure you actually hit your target, as well as don’t lose or damage any of your arrows.

Be sure to take note on your progress, this will help you refine the areas in which you need to improve.

1. Bales

Bales are popular, especially compressed hay bales, for archery due to their ability to stop arrows. Beginner archers often make this choice because the bales are large, inexpensive, and allow for easy arrow penetration.

What materials do hay bales use?

Making archery bales requires the use of herbaceous plants. Cutting and drying these plants is necessary before putting the actual bales together.

How much do they cost?

Expect to pay somewhere between $3 and $10 per bale (dependent on size), or .07 to .08 cents per pound.

Pros: Easy to see and stackable. Arrows are easy to pull and supports short and long distance shooting.

Cons: Bales tend to deteriorate fairly quickly when placed outside due to weather, animals, etc., making it necessary to replace them regularly. Bales also begin to break down over time due to continuous arrow penetration, leading to eventual collapse.

Where to buy: Any large feed store should have hay bales in stock.

2. Target Bags

While they’re not as large as a bale, bag targets are still fairly easy to see. Archers who want a transportable target often choose this target type as their practice target.

What materials do target bags use?

Bag targets are a basic style of archery target and consists of a thick bag that’s filled with cotton and/or foam scraps.

How much do they cost?

Starting price is around $50.

Pros: Portable. Lightweight. Durable. Easy to remove arrows.

Cons: Outside elements (rain, sun) will ruin the bag over time. Not recommended for young or recurve archers as it can be difficult for arrows to penetrate the bag. Also not great for long distance archery.

Where to buy? Amazon, Wal-Mart, any local or online archery shops

3. Layered Targets

This target type is very affordable. Many archers will even make homemade layered targets to practice shooting.

What materials do layered targets use?

This type of archery target uses foam, cardboard, and many other material options to create a layered target. Archers who shoot regularly often choose this target option.

How much do layered targets cost?

Starting price is around $40.

Pros: A layered target lasts for a long time due to its ability to hold up well in outside elements.

Cons: Weakness in the target can develop from repeated impact at one location.

Where to buy: Local or online archery shops

4. Foam Block Targets

Many advanced archers choose a solid foam archery target block due to its many benefits. Even though this high-quality archery target is expensive, they’ll last for many years making them worth the price.

What materials does an archery target foam block target use?

This target uses high-density foam to catch a shooter’s arrows.

How much do they cost?

Starting price is around $80.

Pros: High-quality. Is weather resistant. Can last for years depending on use. Can sometimes replace sections vs. the whole target.

Cons: Expensive. Can be difficult to remove arrows shot with high poundage.

Where to buy: Amazon, Wal-mart, local or online archery shops

5. 3D Targets

Bowhunters often choose 3D targets as they come in a variety of animal shapes and sizes, i.e. deer, turkey, elk. This provides hunters with a real-life hunting scenario, which is beneficial when it comes to practicing a clean shot.

What materials do layered targets use?

These targets are made out of 3D foam, designed to look like a real animal.

How much do they cost?

Prices range between $100 and $1500. Average price is about $300.

Pros: Can handle broadheads. Replaceable inserts are available.

Cons: Expensive. Foam 3D targets tend to wear out with repetition. Arrows can be lost if the target is missed.

Where to buy: Local or online archery shops

Which Types of Archery Targets Are Right For You?

While your target choice is one that’s based on your personal shooting style, a beginner archer should choose a target that is easy to see, aka a large target. You may also want to choose a target that uses contrasting colors to differentiate the target into sections, as this allows you to easily see where your arrow impacts in reference to the center.

Answer the questions below to help you narrow down your target choices:

• What type of bow do you use?

A light draw weight bow doesn’t work well with foam/dense targets, making this target option a better option for heavier poundage bows.

• What type of arrows do you use?

You don’t want to experience difficulty when pulling your arrows out of the target, as this can damage them, depending on your arrow material….especially aluminum arrows.

• At what distance will you be shooting?

You’ll need to choose a long-distance target if shooting over long distances in order to shoot your best. 3 stacked, compressed hay bales (or something similar in size) works well for distances up to 80.

• Are you shooting outside?

You’ll want to choose an archery target that’s made using high-quality materials to make it withstand the outside elements. A target that’s made using weather-resistant materials will last longer in harsh weather environments.

• How long do you want your target to last?

Quality materials make all the difference!

• How much can you afford?

Research what your budget allows to understand your purchasing options. Homemade archery targets tend to be more budget-friendly. Expensive targets may be more difficult to purchase, but can last a long time compared to cheaper options.


There are many types of archery targets you can choose from nowadays. Choosing one that’s best for you is as simple as choosing one that easily supports your personal shooting style. But be sure to pay attention to things like your strength, endurance, and coordination when choosing or making a target, as these things also factor into your decision. Every archer should have access to at least one archery target, if not many, to hone your skills and improve your accuracy.


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