Finding a suitable location to practice archery becomes one of the main hurdles most beginner archers face once they decide to take up archery as a sport and pastime.
From archery clubs to local archery shops to public shooting lands to local schools and universities to public parks and your backyard, there is no shortage of locations where you can practice archery.
Despite the many locations, each has its advantages and disadvantages, making settling on a location challenging.
This article will guide you through each of these locations to make it easier for you to choose the best one for you based on your location, skill level, and budget.
Archery is one of the safest sports around since there are very few chances to injure yourself. The stong of the bowstring is the major injury most people encounter. However, stray arrows are a considerable safety risk to passersby, pets, and property.
As such, different states have laws governing archery practice. Therefore, you need to check with your state to see what laws are in place, either restricting the sport completely in particular locations or allowing it only in some areas, as long as you observe the set safety measures.
It's important to note that you need to check on the legality of archery practice in the following four places, even when the larger authority allows you to practice.
- The State: Archery is legal in all states across the country, but you should check with the lower authorities for prohibitions or other regulatory laws.
- County: If your county allows archery practice, check with your city and town.
- The City: It is legal to practice archery in most cities in the US. However, there are strict rules from city to city on the exact location where you can practice. For example, while a city might allow archery on private land, you might not be allowed to practice it in the city's public parks.
- Town: Like most cities, towns are usually short on space. As such, you should call the local authorities to ask if it is legal to practice archery there. If it is, they can even advise you on the exact locations where you can practice.
Besides checking on the legality of the sport in your area, you also need to install warning signs, fences, and backstops. You can buy ready-to-use warning signs and backstops or make them yourself.
Warning signs are crucial for letting your neighbors or passersby know that they should keep off your practicing area.
Backstops and fences are necessary for stopping stray arrows from flying into people, pets, or surrounding property, which helps eliminate instances of injury, death, or damage.
What Do You Need to Practice Archery?
You only need a handful of items to practice archery in some locations since they already have most of the resources installed. However, if you are setting up your private archery range, you need a lot more. You can even take it a notch higher by adding some fancy items.
Here's a list of the resources you'll need to practice archery.
What You Need to Practice Archery in Public Locations
When practicing archery in public spaces, you only need the following basic archery equipment.
Carbon arrows will come in handy.
A quiver holds your arrows and keeps them from scuttering during transit, storage, and active practice.
An armguard protects the arm from the bowstring's sting.
Release Aids and Triggers
Although not a must-use initially, you can experiment with release aids and triggers for added fun and shot accuracy.
Finger tabs protect your drawing fingers from the bowstring's painful sting during the pull and release.
What You Need to Practice Archery at Home
When practicing archery indoors or outdoors in the backyard at home, you will need the following equipment in addition to the ones discussed above.
Space for Archery Range
Since most people start by shooting at 8-10 yards away from the target, a 20-yard long indoor or outdoor space will be enough.
You can have only one target or several if you'll be hosting your archery comrades. You can also set up a spare for your kids.
A backstop is crucial for catching arrows that stray off the target. We will talk more about it later.
Warning signs for alerting neighbors and passersby that they should avoid wandering into your compound unannounced.
It's important to erect a high wooden or brick fence after the backstop to act as a second stop for stray arrows and keep people and animals away from your archery range.
Although not necessary, you can make your backyard archery fancier and easier to use when you use distance markers to map out sections or distances.
A bow stand is also not a must, but having one will make archery in the backyard more comfortable. You can buy a ready-made bow stand on Amazon or opt for a do-it-yourself (DIY) one using procedures explained in YouTube videos.
Additional DIY Quiver
You can make a simple DIY quiver by driving short PVC pipes into the ground, adding a stabilizer such as concrete inside the pipe, and leaving one foot of space inside the tube for holding your arrows.
A DIY quiver eliminates the need to have the quiver on you every time you are practicing.
Where to Practice Archery
As mentioned at the start, there are many places where you can practice archery. Your choice will depend on your availability, budget, local laws, safety measures, availability of an archery lane, and how close the location is to your home.
Here are some of the possible locations you can try.
Archery clubs usually have indoor ranges and will charge you a lane fee per hour or a block of hours each time you practice. If there is an archery club near you, consider checking it out to enjoy the benefits of not struggling to set up your own targets and backstops.
Local Archery Shops
There are plenty of archery shops in many localities, usually run by marksmen or archery hobbyists. If you become a frequent customer at you local archery shop, the owner can give you access to a free archery lane after business hours. Otherwise, you'll be charged to practice at their range.
Local Schools and Universities
You can also find archery ranges in local high schools, colleges, and universities that offer archery classes.
The good thing here is that school archery ranges are usually highly advanced. However, finding opportunities to play in school ranges is a challenge, and you might wait a long time.
If you are lucky enough and a local school accepts your request, you can enjoy the school's large outdoor ranges during off-hours in the evenings, nights, and weekends.
Public Shooting Lands
Most states have public shooting spots where you can practice archery safely. However, they are usually populated with hunters, shooters, and hikers. As such, you should always be on the lookout when you shoot your bow in such public spaces.
Can You Practice Archery at Home?
Practicing archery at home can be the best option for you because of the convenience it offers. First, you don't have to travel to access the shooting range. Second, you save yourself the burden of carrying your sporting equipment around.
The one downside of practicing archery at home is that the cost of setting up your range is high since you have to buy the non-shooting equipment and install a backstop and fence yourself.
How to Turn Your Backyard into an Archery Range
You can turn your backyard into an archery range following the steps below:
Plan Your Range
At least 20 yards in length is okay, but it could be less, depending on how much you have. Measure distances and map out the exact locations of various items like targets, backdrops, and archery gear.
Set up Safety Measures
Set up your safety measures such as a backdrop and high fence. A wooden fence or backstop requires a mat, outdoor carpet, archery net, or soft padding to reduce the noise of arrows when they hit the wood. It's also easier to pull arrows out of the netting than wood.
The backstop or fence padding you buy or make should be able to catch different types of arrows such as wood, carbon, and aluminum arrows. It also prevents damage to your arrows. The backstop can be wooden, a stack of hay bales, or made of plywood or compressed foam plastic.
The fence can be about 10 feet tall and 14 feet wide for a two-lane range.
Use distance markers from the target line using stones or wooden sticks. Place the markers conspicuously every 5-10 yards off the set target line. Sticks may be a nuisance if they stick too much above the ground.
For extra safety, make a small depression in the ground and bury stones or bricks slightly below or flush to the ground level. The marked distances and shooting lines warn people against walking behind them during your practice sessions.
Add Other Equipment and Accessories
- Add a DIY or ready-made bow stand for holding your bows.
- Add targets. You can use bag targets, 3D targets, or block targets. Bag targets are cheap and easily portable. 3D targets take the shapes of life-sized animals or inanimate objects. Block targets are more costly, portable, and made of durable, lightweight foam.
- Add warning signs to keep off passersby and neighbors.
How to Practice Archery at Home
There are two ways to practice archery at home. You can practice indoors in a space like a garage or outdoors in a backyard shooting range.
You can set up your archery range in an indoor space, with the targets inside the room or garage and your back facing the open outdoors. Make the distance between you and the targets at least ten yards.
Where space is too tight, and you can only manage just a few yards, you can opt to shoot into a blank bill instead of a target.
If you can't shoot arrows for some reason, work on your archery skills by drawing your bow to the optimum distance and holding on for a couple of seconds each time until you can't keep up anymore. Do this repeatedly for about twenty minutes.
The drawing without shooting exercise helps you do some archery workout using the same energy and muscles you would use shooting.
Be sure to refer to the video below for a detailed overview of how you can practice archery at home.
Can You Practice Archery in a Public Park?
In most states and cities, the law allows you to practice archery in a public park. However, you have to be very keen on safety because there are usually many people and pets inside parks, and you don't want your arrow flying into one of them.
If archery is allowed in the park, there will be a sign indicating so, and most likely a secluded area where you can shoot your bow. However, where the sport isn't allowed, the prohibiting sign may be there or not.
Ensure you confirm with the authorities whether you can shoot your bow there.
While finding a suitable location to practice archery may seem like an uphill task, do some research. You will find good places such as archery shops, local schools and universities, archery clubs, public shooting lands, and some public parks.
Practicing archery in your backyard is the best option because of the extra convenience. However, it might get lonely if you like to practice alongside other enthusiasts, in which case you can explore the other away-from-home options.
People Also Ask
Besides the issue of what locations are best for practicing archery, you may have other concerns about archery for which an expert's opinion would come in handy. Here are some common questions most archery enthusiasts ask about the sport.
What Type of Arrow Point Is Best for Practicing in the Field?
Arrows with field points are the best for practicing in the field because of their slender tapering design, allowing for a true flight and reduced wear and tear on grass-type, foam, and bag archery targets. They are also easier to pull out of the target because of the narrow design.
How Much Does It Cost to Practice Archery?
From a general point of view, it’s quite difficult to tell how much it costs to practice archery because there are several dynamics to consider.
Practicing at home can be even more expensive since you have to buy or build everything, including shooting gear, targets, signs, fences, and backstops. The cumulative cost here could easily run into at least $1,000 for the complete range setup.
It's cheaper to practice away from home in public locations since you only incur the cost of traveling, shooting gear, and lane fees where applicable. You can expect to spend less than $1,000 to buy equipment when starting.
How Often Should I Practice Archery?
The choice of how often you should practice archery depends on your availability, goals, and ease of accessing an archery range. If you have plenty of time, you can practice every day. However, three good practice sessions per week should be enough to keep your skills alive.