The thrill one can get when shooting 3D archery targets is exhilarating! There definitely is something fun having to aim at these figures - whether it's for accurate shots or just for some wholesome archery fun, 3D archery is truly amazing!
And this is why we'd like you to have the opportunity to make your own 3D archery target. Bring that archery joy right to your doorstep with some of our quick and easy steps below!
The Basics of Making 3D Archery Targets
Considering that this is a DIY project, do expect to invest time and effort (and some artistic and technical skill) when constructing your own 3D archery targets. But don't let this task wear you down - when done properly, you'll be sure that your hard work will result in outstanding and satisfying archery rewards!
The easiest way to make a 3D archery target is to get a turkey decoy, and stuff it with foam that will block your arrows.
While this is really easy, the catch is that it's hard to get foam that will really stop your arrows.
Materials Checklist - The Easy Way
Here are some of the materials and tools you will need when making 3D archery targets:
- A turkey decoy.
- Polyurethane foam (spray form) - "Great Stuff" is good for this, you could also experiment with fence post foam.
- Heavy duty foam blocks - these are optional, you can stuff your decoy with it to help stop the arrows. Polyethylene is better than polyurethane.
- A stick to fix the decoy onto.
- Or alternatively wooden boards (2 pieces of 2" x 4/3" ft.; 1 piece of 2" x 4/1" ft.) on which the decoy will sit, like this.
Safety gear is optional, but highly recommended - goggles are very good to have!
Build Your Target!
Now here's the challenging (but fun) part. To make the flow much smoother, we're breaking down the DIY guide into smaller chunks:
Preparing the Turkey Decoy
This is the part where you'll be building the main part of the 3D archery target.
- Get the decoy out of it's box.
- Check if it has a hole on the bottom. If not cut a hole in it. You will use this hole to fill the decoy with foam.
- Prepare the Great Stuff, get it ready to fill the turkey.
- If you have heavy-duty foam blocks, apply a bit of the great stuff to the inner side of the turkey, and stuff the turkey with the foam blocks. You'll need to cut up the foam blocks into smaller pieces beforehand.
- If you want to use a stick to hold your target, insert the stick in the hole while applying the Great Stuff.
- Use the Great Stuff to fill the turkey - you may need multiple bottles of it. Go slow to avoid creating air bubbles inside your turkey.
- Wait 24-48 hours for the foam to dry.
- Make sure you have a backstop for the case it does not stop the arrow! After 24-48 hours (and once the foam is dry) inspect your target. It should feel dense enough. Fire a few shots to test it.
While the foam is drying you may want to check our suggestions for target recurve and compound bows. Some arrow are better for 3d archery as others - click here to read more.
The Alternative - Fence Post Foam
Instead of the Great Stuff, you can also try to fill your turkey with fence post foam. Note this is the harder way as the fence post foam will surely overflow the hole and may even shoot out.
- It's a great idea to cover your decoy in easy to remove duct tape (at least around the holes and on the side) as the overflowing foam would stick to it.
- Put on safety glasses and safety gloves to make sure you are protected from the overflowing foam.
- Keep the decoy ready to be filled, you will not have much time once the foam is prepared! For best results prop up the decoy upside down so you do not need to hold it, and can concentrate only on the pouring
- Prepare the foam. This is usually done by emptying the smaller bottle into the large one and shaking it for 20-30 seconds.
- Once it's prepared, empty the mixture into the hole on the turkey. Make the hole looks away from your face as the foam will surely overflow.
The foam will need 24-48 hours to dry, after that you can remove the part that's overflown with a knife. The duct tape will make it easier to remove the foam from the decoy.
Constructing the Stand
Note you will not need a stand if you have a stick in your decoy.
You can do these sequence of steps while you are waiting for the foam on your decoy to dry.
Position the two same-sized wooden boards. Set them up that they are parallel to each other.
Using the remaining board, have this one placed on top of the two parallel boards (you will know you are doing this right if all the boards form an ⊓ shape).
Carefully drill screws into the boards for them to be fastened together properly. You can get away by using nails too, or you can do it the nice way using screws and a screw driver.
Combining the Decoy and the Stand
Now that each part of the 3D archery target is done, you can now combine them!
- Carefully position your decoy on the ⊓-shaped boards (right on the middle portion).
- Check to see if the decoy stands upright.
- Drill screws into the lower portion of the decoy towards the middle portion of the boards.
- You're done!
Check Your Target!
Lastly, do some tests to find out if your 3D archery target is a success! Do this by shooting several arrows towards the target. If the target can withstand the initial wave of arrows, then this is more than likely a great target!
Still not satisfied with the end result? Here are some adjustments that you can do:
- Want your target at a higher height? Consider replacing your stand. Using longer wooden boards will give you more room to lift your target up.
- You can save your target from gruesome damage. After arrow shots, you can apply some more spray foam in the arrow holes. Remember to give ample time for the foam to dry!
Bonus: How to Make a Moving 3D Archery Target!
Here’s something fun - we’re also sharing a guide on how to make a moving 3D archery target!
Here's what you need for this DIY project:
- 4" x 4" wooden plank (18 ft. long)
- A pair of pulleys
- 2 pairs of carabiners
- A box of screws
- A utility knife
- A saw
- 1/2 inch wide nylon rope (90 ft. long)
- Your 3D archery target
Again, safety equipment is optional, but highly recommended.
Build Your Base!
Here are the steps to set up this nice 3D archery target feature:
- Prep the wooden plank.
- Cut the wooden plank into four pieces (two planks should measure at 6 ft.; the remaining planks at 3 ft.)
- Pair a 6 ft. plank with a 3 ft. plank.
- Form a T-shaped post with each plank pair.
- Screw a portion of a 3 ft. plank to the top of the partnered 6 ft. post.
- Next, at a 20 yard distance, dig two holes at each end.
- The hole should be approximately 2 ft. deep.
- Insert a T-shaped post in each hole.
- Securing each post in its respective holes.
- Screw a pulley on each T-post by attaching one on the bottom of each 3 ft. plank section.
Now that the pulley system foundation is done, you can now work on the rope section.
- Prep the nylon rope.
- Cut the nylon rope with your utility knife into three sections (one section is at 80 ft.; the remaining rope sections are at 5 ft. each).
- Connect the long nylon rope section by hooking it on the pulleys of each T-post. This will serve as the main rope that will pull your 3D archery target.
- Using your carabiners, connect these to each end of the remaining short nylon rope sections.
- Wrap the short nylon sections onto the 3D archery target's legs.
- Once wrapped tight, have the carabiners attach to the long nylon rope section.
- Lift up the 3D archery target from the ground.
- You are ready to shoot!
Take note that two people need to be positioned on each T-post to push and pull the pulley system. This will make your target move!
Check Your Target!
Similar to the first DIY project mentioned above, always conduct some tests to see if there are any adjustments to be made.
Some adjustments that you can implement are:
- If needed, you can construct walls in front of the people pulling the pulley system.
- Consider positioning the entire DIY project in an area with a firm back stop. For safety reasons, having a back stop should prevent misfires or friendly fires. In this case, a dirt pile may serve to be a good choice.
- Spike up the fun – and challenge – by attaching another 3D target into the pulley system!
The additional element of movement that this project brings in a whole new dimension of fun in your shooting sessions!
Fun DIY 3D Archery Target Projects
Need some inspiration or alternatives to spice up your 3D archery target? Check out some of our suggestions below:
3D Animal Target Suggestions
Some of the most common animal designs used for 3D archery targets would be a deer and a turkey. But don't limit yourself to this. All that is stopping you is your creativity when designing a target! Here are some designs you may want to do:
- Pigeon(s) – if you have excess/limited materials, then you may want to go for this choice. Smaller in size (but double the fun), you'll be aiming sharper once you get the hang of shooting at these smaller targets. Additionally, this target would be fantastic when attached to a pulley system!
- Rabbit – another small but big on fun and challenge choice.
- Fox – a nice choice that may even prep you properly when you are out in the wild.
- Bear – probably one of the most challenging DIY 3D archery target projects that you'll do. But if you do manage to make this, expect an adrenaline rush shooting a larger than life target!
- Wild Boar – another great choice to consider that can also prep you on what to expect outdoors.
Feel free to experiment with other target designs!
Alternative 3D Targets
Additionally, you may want to try out these conventional archery targets for a change.
Having trouble to create that animal design? Go for a basic foam decoy first instead. Don't worry about how it'll look. The important thing is that you have something you can shoot at.
Since foam decoys come in different shapes and sizes, you can simply lay them out on a field to shoot. Even better, have some float on a body of water to simulate shooting ducks!
This option requires a high level of artistic skill. But if you're up to it, you'd be able to fashion your 3D archery targets to be at par (or even better) to those sold in the market.
Essentially using a foam cutting tool, you are sculpting the layers of foam glued together to the shape you desire. Again, the only limit is your own skill and imagination.
Check this youtube video for a great example of a target sculpted this way.
Burlap 3D Targets
Strike a balance between function and design with this option. All you would need to do is get some foam decoys and fashion it to your desired form.
Let's say, you'd want a bear. Get enough foam decoy to shape out a long and oval shape of the animal. Next, simply attach some burlap to the foam fixture. The burlap can now then serve as the 3D archery bear target's limbs or head.
To withstand wear and tear, you can also consider sewing burlap pieces onto the foam decoy. As with the common trend among DIY projects, use your imagination to the fullest to create something wonderful!
Upcycle Used 3D Archery Targets
Since the mix and match approach has been done on the Burlap 3D target suggestion, try using this approach on used or damaged 3D archery targets as well. Depending on pro shops or shooting ranges, there may be old or damaged targets that owners or staff would want to dispose. It won’t hurt to ask!
If you get your hands on some old 3D targets, do feel free to experiment on how you can make the most out of it. Try a combination of all the pointers mentioned above!
We’ve always made sure to mention that safety should be prioritized on our DIY guides above. To refresh your memory, let’s quickly summarize some safety tips:
Basic DIY Safety Tips
- Wear protective gear.
- Always keep a clean working environment.
- If possible, always have a friend to assist you on DIY jobs.
- Take your time - you are in no rush.
Basic Archery Safety Tips
- Wear bright clothing when shooting outdoors.
- Always make sure that there no human targets in your line of sight.
- When in doubt, do not shoot.
- Never fire an arrow up in the sky.
- Only retrieve arrows when you are sure there is no else shooting.
Have Fun with Your DIY 3D Archery Targets!
We want to give you the power to choose by giving you different ways to create a 3D archery target. We hope you’ll get the chance to make your own! Stay safe, and enjoy your DIY archery project.
Find out more about 3D archery targets on these sites:
This blog post lists down the pros and cons of different archery targets.
Women’s Outdoor News shares some helpful pointers on how to repair 3D archery targets.
Total Archery explains why 3D archery is an exciting activity to pursue.
Click here to learn how to make ordinary target blocks.
While you are preparing your target, you'll find tips here on where to shoot.
Learning to shoot instinctively is great fun for target shooting - make sure you get the right target recurve or compound bow for it.