D.I.M.: Backyard Archery Target

Did It Myself
Being handy is expected of a husband. In fact it’s written into most state wedding licenses because they don’t expect you to read the whole thing. Some husbands are naturals and for the rest there’s Scarydad. He’s always been handy and he’s here to share his tips on everything from appliance repair to gardening to yard art worthy of any dumb white husband.


A while back, I bought a sweet bow and arrow set off my brother-in-law, who in turn used the money to buy an even sweeter bow for himself. It works this way: he acquires a weapon of some sort, practices to a level of proficiency that justifies upgrading his equipment, then sells the old and buys the new. I’ve been the happy recipient of some great lightly used equipment over the years. Sometimes I’ll upgrade too but even when I do I typically keep the old stuff. Someone once told me that if there wasn’t a deadly weapon within arm’s reach at all times, then you didn’t have enough deadly weapons around. I tend to believe this sort of advice, mostly because it justifies the ownership and constant procurement of badass stuff.


When I got home I set up a few plastic bottles along the fence and took some shots. It was immediately apparent that I would need some sort of a backstop to keep from porcupining my neighbor’s house.

I assumed he wouldn’t like that very much and might even have reason to register a complaint with the homeowner’s association; and nobody wants that. I have read the charter, though, and know for a fact that there is no rule expressed or implied that says I can’t shoot a bow and arrow in my own backyard– or anyone’s backyard, actually. Our homeowner’s agreement is surprisingly silent on matters of bowmanship. However, despite having the legal upper hand, I decided to just be a good neighbor and build a backstop for my arrows.

Bro-in-law had made several versions of what he ended up with, which is essentially a small open-ended shed with a target inside. It’s effective, but larger than what I wanted and still has the problem of arrows getting stuck in plywood. Having to dig arrows out of wood is a pain in the ass, so I went on the hunt for a better idea.

I hit up a couple of archery forums and this guy seemed to have the perfect solution: hang a scrap of carpet over a horizontal bar. Modern carpet is made of plastic and will not mildew or stink if allowed to air out. Also, when you have double layers separated by a couple of inches, the impact of the arrow causes the front piece to move just slightly. When it goes through the back layer, the front layer is moving back into its original position and the two layers cut the velocity of the arrow and keep it from over penetrating.

If this actually worked, it would be exactly what I was looking for. I went to a carpet store and asked the guy if I could have some scraps. He said I could hit the dumpster out back any day and it would be full of them. I went in back and there was a perfect four-by-twelve-foot scrap rolled up and set right on top. The next night my buddy and I were hanging out drinking beer in my garage and we decided to go ahead and build the frame.

Let me tell you: this thing works. I have stood three feet away and loosed an arrow at full draw and it will not go all the way through the carpet. It will sink all the way up to the fletching (feathers) but it simply cannot go through. Perhaps a stronger bow could send one through, in fact, I’m sure of it. But I am satisfied knowing that I won’t accidentally send an arrow through my backstop and hit anything with this bow.
Once everything was safe and secure, I got to practicing. Some people play video games, others watch TV. I shoot arrows at things. I’m not the type of person who gets bored anyway, but if I do happen to find myself with nothing to do, I just grab my bow and arrows and walk outside in the yard and let loose like Legolas. It’s very therapeutic. I never thought I would have an archery range in my backyard but now that I have one, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

How about you? Do you get to play with weapons in your backyard? Why or why not?


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  • reply erica ,

    That’s great do you know what draw strength your bow is? Is it compound? Thanks!

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