Types of Archery Targets

Possibly the single most important part of the process of bow hunting is practice. No matter whether you have been bow hunting for years or have only recently taken up the sport it’s not possible to emphasise just how important regular practice is. A new piece of equipment – from a new compound bow to a different brand of string silencer – requires some test firing to measure the effects on your shooting accuracy and the sound generated when firing.

The key to solid practice is a sound set of targets.

Targets come in a range of different looks and functions. They can be ultra-durable, something that is going to be important when testing a new set of broadheads such as a bonded laminated foam target, or they may be simpler in construction such as an open layer target.

The open layer style of target will work very well when shooting field points, as will compression bag targets. A target that gives a good balance between the dense compression target or straight foam target is a hybrid target that is suitable for target points of all types.

When you look for a new target you should be aware of the different types of targets available so that you buy the type that is suited to the type of shooting you will be doing. With so many different types of archery equipment being produced it is important to get a target that is specialized to match the arrows and bow that is going to be used.

A good target should provide a long target life, allow easy arrow removal and consistent stopping capabilities. This applies to competition target mats as well as 3D hunting targets.

A hunting target is vastly different to a competition target and a target designed to accept field points is not going to stand up to a devastating mechanical broadhead. Listed below is a selection of the various types of archery targets that have been produced by some of the leading manufacturers in the industry.

3D Archery Targets

3D Archery TargetThere is a large range of 3D archery targets that provide an accurate visual representation of small and large game. These targets have been designed to give the shooter the correct sized animal that looks natural and realistic. Hit zones are placed on strategic points of the target where the kill zones are found on the actual animal.

A 3D archery target is made of a welded foam core with several layers of foam encasing it. The foam layers makes it more difficult for the arrow to penetrate which will prolong the life of the target.

A good 3D target will also allow easy removal of the arrows after they have hit. Look for 3D archery targets that are made with so-called self-healing foam which effectively involves the foam closing back in on itself when the arrow is removed.

The more common animal targets that are found in the 3D range in the US include white tail deer, bear, coyotes, elk, moose, turkey and woodcock. It is possible to find these targets in a variety of poses to give the shooter practice at hitting the vital spots in a variety of different circumstances.

Cube Targets

The CUBE Hybrid TargetCube targets provide a large target that is easily moved from place to place as well as being easy to set up. The target is a version of a bag target but being four-sided it can simply be positioned virtually anywhere and in a matter of seconds is ready to be used.

One of the most popular of these types of targets is the CUBE hybrid target made by American Whitetail Targets. It is made from a combination of woven polyethylene and polyester and is self-healing, allowing it to be shot at from all 4 sides. It is also designed to allow the arrows to be pulled out with a minimum of effort.

There is also an option with laminated foam at the core for shooting with broadheads. With this option in place the target is shot from the front so that the broadheads hit the hollow section of the foam shell which protects the softer part of the target.

There are a number of fine variations of the cube target on the market and each of them are heavy duty and easy to set up and use.

Paper Targets

Paper TargetThe traditional archery competition targets are paper targets that have been affixed to a foam backing. The target itself presents an array of concentric circles to the shooter with the smallest circle worth the highest points and the largest outer circle worth the least.

The paper target is usually attached to a target butt which is made from foam and provides you with a solid backing to allow the arrows to hit without destroying the sharp points. There are three common types of target butt materials in use: solid foam, layered foam and layered glued foam. The important factors for deciding on a type of backing is the ease with which arrows may be removed and the length of time the material will last after repeated use.

Paper targets are the cheapest type of target available because of their very short lifespan. In fact, during competition these targets will be replaced from one round to the next. When practicing it will be possible to use them over a longer period of time but they will start to be ripped up quite quickly.


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