In the subdivision where I live, there are rules about shooting bows. Without at least 2.5 acres, you need to gain permission from your neighbors to practice. Our yard doesn’t meet the minimum criteria, so I’ve had friendly conversations with the neighbors on both sides of us and I’m able to shoot my bow when I please. The thing is, I don’t…at least not when I please.
I can shoot about 45 yards on the side of my house, but in the interest of safety and optics, I tend to tighten up that range a little bit. Because I work at home, I try to shoot over my lunch break when there are fewer people out and about. I’ve never had anyone complain in 12 years of yard-shooting, but I prefer to keep a low profile because I don’t want to make any of my neighbors uncomfortable.
Quick tip: Mark yardages on your home range with stakes or flags so that you won’t have to use your rangefinder during every practice session.
If you can find a way to legally shoot in your yard then by all means, do it. You might only be able to squeeze 15 yards out of your fenced-in backyard, but that’s better than nothing. Short shots are still fun, and they are a great way to work on your fundamentals. Before you start shooting on your home range, however, you’ll want to consider the following:
1. Safety First
Whether you buy a block-style target or a 3D target, you must understand how to be safe while shooting and what may be required to make your home range safe. Obviously, if you have a sturdy fence or maybe a concrete retaining wall directly behind your targets, you’re probably okay. But remember, modern bows are serious weapons and arrows can fly a couple of hundred yards away depending on the bow and the angle at which an arrow is loosed, so it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with in terms of overall range. It’s also critical to understand that arrows, which are moving up to about 300 feet-per-second once they reach your target, can possibly skip or deflect in wild directions. Pay attention to your backdrop, how you draw your bow, and the position from which you shoot in order to keep things safe at all times.
2. Target Choices
Photograph by Tony J. Peterson
When purchasing 3D targets, choose those designed for both field points and broadheads. Targets with replaceable inserts save money because you don’t have to replace the whole target when you shoot out the vitals.
From bags to blocks to realistic 3D targets, the market is chock full of offerings. If you’re setting up a spot to shoot at your house, I highly recommend making two purchases. The first should be a portable target with a high-contrast bulls-eyes on it. You want this target to be as easy as possible to aim at.
Quick tip: If you’re having trouble getting your arrows out of your target, invest in an arrow puller.
Your second purchase should be a 3D target that represents the animal you’re most likely to hunt. For most of us, this will be a whitetail deer target. There are many of options on the market ranging in price from about $100 on up. The best targets are those designed for both field points and broadheads, and that are either built to last (i.e. more expensive) or offer replaceable inserts so when you shoot out the vitals, you don’t need to buy a whole new target.
This 3D option is more fun to shoot at than a bulls-eye, and it allows you to work on point-of-impact aiming on something that truly represents a game animal. That matters and is a great way to keep practice sessions interesting and enjoyable.