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How To Make a Homemade Crossbow Target | 2 Different Methods

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Getting in some practice at home is the best way to get good quickly. The problem is that store-bought targets tend to be both expensive and rather flimsy. This is not a great combination. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to build yourself a functional target with stuff you have laying around.

Here are two different methods to make a homemade crossbow target: 

  1. Filling a sack with rags and closing it up.
  2. Building a target from scrap wood. 

The crossbow targets made using the methods from above do an excellent job and can even perform better and last longer than several expensive commercial targets. Below is a step-by-step process for each of the methods. Let’s start with the cheaper one. 

1. Filling a Sack With Rags

Homemade Crossbow or Archery Target

One of the cheapest ways to build a homemade crossbow target is to use some old rags you already have. The idea is to take a bag of some sort and fill it with materials that can stop your bolts. 

Improvisation is key here, especially since you probably won’t have the same materials I mention here lying around. 

However, there are some considerations that you should make. The following two factors determine what type of target you should aim to build: 

  • The speed and power of your crossbow. The higher the feet per second (FPS) rating of your crossbow, the tougher the material you should use. 
  • Are you shooting broadheads or field points? Broadheads will do more damage to your target than field points. They’re also more difficult to retrieve from the target. 

How To Make a Crossbow Target From a Sack and Clothes

If you want to practice your crossbow shooting skills with field points, a target made from a sack and clothes will do just fine. 

Here’s how to make a crossbow target with rags and a sack:

  1. Find a sack. 
  2. Get some old clothes to stuff your sack with. 
  3. Shove your clothes into the sack. 
  4. Seal the sack

It sounds easy, because it is. Here are more specific directions:

1. Find a Sack

Select the sack that you think will be the most durable. If you have a feed sack lying around, use it. Just try to get one that doesn’t have any holes in it. The holes would provide space for the clothes to stick out, making the whole setup less compact, affecting its ability to stop bolts. 

If you don’t have a sack lying around, you could buy one for cheap online or at a local store. This SGT Knots Burlap Bag from Amazon.com is an excellent option. It has reinforced stitching, so nothing will fall out. 

2. Get Some Clothes to Stuff Your Sack With

If you have clothes that you no longer use or some other items made of cotton, they’d be great as a stuffing material. 

You’ll need to stuff as much material as you can into the sack, so gather all unworn clothes around your home.

While picking clothes, remove parts such as zippers and buttons from jeans. The metal parts can damage carbon bolts. 

3. Shove Your Clothes Into the Sack

Stuff as many clothes into the sack as possible. You want to make the target extremely compact. Accordingly, try not to leave any space between the clothes. 

Also, don’t fold them neatly; just shove them in and press them down as hard as you can. Keep doing that until you fill it to the top. 

4. Seal the Sack

Once you’ve filled the sack, seal it at the top. The goal of this is to maintain the compactness of the contents. 

Using an automatic sewer would be the best. However, these are mostly used for making and mending clothes, so it doesn’t make much sense to buy one if you won’t be using it regularly. Here, you’ll have to be innovative and use whatever sewing methods you can. 

Manual sewing using a thread and needle may be your best recourse. Use heavy-duty thread. The Mandala Crafts Bonded Nylon Thread from Amazon is an excellent choice because it’s specially made for outdoor use and has great tensile strength. 

But if you’re not up for sewing, you can use duct tape as well. I recommend this Duct Tape Heavy Duty. It has a strong adhesive, is all-weather, and gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It comes with 450 feet (137 m) of tape, allowing you to use it as liberally as you want. 

Alternatively, instead of using a sack, you can fill a laundry basket with clothes and seal it up with duct tape.

2. Building a Target From Scrap Wood

Homemade Archery Target Made from Scrap Wood

Using rags and a sack or a laundry basket is the cheapest option because there’s very little you need to buy. It’s also an easy way to go, especially if you have a lot of clothes that you don’t wear. 

An alternative is to build a target from scrap wood. It’s more durable and stops bolts from a longer range of up to 20 yards (18 meters) 

A potential downside to building a target from wood is that you’ll need to do more work. If you don’t have readily available scrap wood, it may take some time and effort to find it. Also, you’ll have to do a bit of woodwork to assemble the structure. 

Moreover, wood can cost significantly more. If you can’t find scrap wood, you’ll have to buy it. Additionally, if you don’t have basic woodworking equipment, you’ll have to buy that too. For example, you’ll need a saw to cut the wood and a hammer to join the pieces of wood together. 

Even if you buy basic woodworking equipment, this alternative is still much cheaper than buying a crossbow target. 

As with all DIY projects, improvisation can help you save a lot of money, so use what you already have. 

How To Build a Homemade Crossbow Target With Scrap Wood

There are multiple ways to go about building a crossbow target with scrap wood. Here’s one that would need the least equipment and therefore cost the least. 

Here’s how to build a wooden homemade crossbow target:

  1. Come up with a basic design. 
  2. Find and prepare the scrap wood.
  3. Assemble the target.
  4. Stuff the structure with the material. 
  5. Paint targets on the front-facing side. 

Below is a description of each of these steps:

1. Come Up With a Basic Design 

Essentially, you want a cubic structure that you can stuff with material like clothes. Your final target will be made up of a frame for the cube and wooden walls. Come up with a basic design for this. 

Draw it on your computer or on paper. This step will involve calculations to know how much wood you’ll need. 

Since you won’t be making anything complicated, you’ll be fine with just some basic drawings on a piece of paper. 

Alternatively, you can use some free design software for basic woodwork. I recommend Sketchup as it’s easy to use and can estimate the cost. 

2. Find and Prepare the Scrap Wood 

The design step will give you a rough idea of how much wood you’ll need. Either use some scrap wood you have lying around your house or buy it from someone. Check around the neighborhood to see if anyone has scrap wood to sell or gift.

Adjust the wood you collected to ensure it fits the measurements you came up with in the design stage. 

Prepare the pieces of wood that will make up the structure of the frame. Ensure that they’re the right length. You should also ensure that the parts that will make up the walls are cut out accordingly. 

If you don’t own a saw, I recommend the Skil 5080-01 Circular Saw from Amazon. It’s easy to use because you just have to press a button, and the circular saw will do the rest for you. The Skil 5080-01 is more affordable than other highly-rated circular saws. 

3. Assemble the Target

This step involves building the external structure of the target. 

Instead of joining the pieces of wood with nails and a hammer, you could use screws and an impact driver since it’s much easier. I recommend this affordable and effective Ryobi P235A Impact Driver.

Once you’ve put together the frame, you’ll need to add the side panels. 

Leave the front-facing side and the opposite side free. You’ll be shooting the bolts onto the front-facing side. So, you want some sort of cover for it, for example, a sack. Don’t use wood for the front-facing side, along with the opposite side. 

Instead, cover both sides with a sack or a similar material. 

4. Stuff the Structure With the Material

You’ll need something to stop the bolts from going through. You can use whatever material you have at your disposal, so long as it gets the job done. 

A popular choice is clothes. Some people use wool, while others use plastic sheets, like shown in the video below. Use whatever you have or can find for cheap.

If you plan to keep the structure outdoors, using wool or clothes means that the target will get extremely heavy and difficult to move when it rains. 

If portability and the ability to leave the target outdoors matter to you, use plastic sheets. 

Whichever material you use, be prepared to use a lot of it. Ideally, the stuffing should be as compact as possible. A tight filling makes the target better at stopping the bolts and makes it more durable. 

Once you’ve finished stuffing, cover the top with a wood panel and screw it firmly into place. 

5. Paint Targets on the Front-Facing Side

Having visual targets instead of just a general area will help you train better. 

Here’s an easy way to paint the targets: 

  1. Find a plastic sheet. 
  2. Cut out holes in the sheet. Shape the holes like you want the targets to be shaped. 
  3. Place the sheet on the front-facing side. 
  4. Spray-paint through the holes. 
  5. Remove the sheet. You should now have painted targets. 

For the best visibility, paint the front-facing side white, then spray-paint the targets with a bright color, like orange or red. 

What Makes for a Good Crossbow Target?

Whichever method you use to build your crossbow target, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

A good crossbow target should have the following characteristics: 

  1. The ability to stop bolts 
  2. Portability 
  3. Durability
  4. Easy retrieval of bolts
  5. Safe for bolts

1. The Ability To Stop Bolts 

If your bolts go through your target like it’s made of paper, you need to make a better target. To ensure that your target can stop bolts, make the filling as compact as possible. 

The higher your crossbow’s FPS, the more compact your filling should be. 

2. Portability 

You’ll have better crossbow skills if you train from different spots and angles. The type of filling you use will have a huge impact on portability. If left out in the rain, clothes will get soaking wet and make the target heavy. 

Stuffing your target with plastic material is the best way to ensure portability. 

3. Durability 

Your target will degrade as you use it. However, some targets degrade faster than others, based on the stuffing used and whether the exterior is painted. 

A target with compact stuffing is more durable. Also, if you often leave your target outside, it may be a good idea to coat it with some weather-resistant paint. 

4. Easy Retrieval of Bolts

If you’re using broadheads, you may have trouble retrieving them after shooting. On the other hand, field points are typically easy to retrieve. 

For broadheads, consider a stronger type of filling that won’t resist retrieval. Clothes may not work well, so use carpet pad foam instead. 

5. Safe for Bolts

Avoid placing metallic components like buckles in your filling — they can destroy carbon bolts. If you’re using clothes as stuffing, go through them to get rid of buttons, buckles, and anything else made of metal. 

Final Thoughts

Making your crossbow target instead of buying one is significantly cheaper. And if you keep important considerations such as durability, portability, and bolt retrieval in mind while building the target, you can make something that will serve you well for years. 

Of the two methods covered in this article, using sacks and clothes is cheaper and easier. 

While using wood and stuffing may take more effort and cost more, it does help come up with a better target in terms of durability and effectiveness.

For more, check out The 5 Most Durable Archery Targets.

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