Practicing archery isn’t possible without targets. If you watch any films that feature archery, you will know that they are shooting at a board, usually plastered on a hay bale. However, what movies don’t answer is the following: can you leave archery targets outside?
Yes, you can leave archery targets outside, depending on the material of the archery target. Hay bales, for example, shouldn’t be left outside, whereas other targets may. It all depends on the material.
Before you dismiss this question as answered, hear this out—there is more to archery targets than meets the eye.
Target practice is probably the most important part in the genesis of any archer. If you don’t practice, you can’t progress; it’s simple as that. In addition, if you do that correctly, you will gain much experience and you will definitely improve your form.
For example, practice will help you improve your strength, technique, and let you find your personal style. Later on, it may also help you achieve success in tournaments or prepare for the hunt. However you twist and turn it, you’ll have to meet with the target practice.
So, some of them you can meet outside, whereas some of them you can meet indoors. However, it’s much better to practice outside than indoors. The indoor setting will offer you a controlled environment, preventing you from experiencing and practicing with outdoor hindrances, such as foliage distractions and weather.
An outdoor setting is also much more rewarding in the long run, since it allows you to feel the wind, environment, and prepare for outdoor archery. So, as a beginner archer, you should devote as much time as you can to practicing archery outside. If you want to do that, you should get to know archery targets a bit better.
Archery targets are made mostly of soft materials, and they all serve the same purpose: to help you practice your shots. On top of that, they should be available, easy to make, and easy to work with.
There exist a lot of archery targets you can use that will all work differently, all with different properties. Some are more resistant to outdoor conditions, whereas some are less resistant. Additionally, some can be moved with ease, whereas others are immovable.
That is exactly why it can be difficult to figure out whether they can be left outside. For example, hay bales are meant to be outside; however, they can be quite difficult to move if there’s rain, as they get soaked and become heavier. In this case, such could easily interfere with your shooting practice.
Likewise, bag targets can be fitted under an improvised roof, which can save them from any outdoor conditions that are devastating to the hay bales. Finally, layered targets can be made of wood and metal and can be the most durable out of the whole bunch. These types of targets can withstand almost anything.
Finally, 3D targets come in various colors and designs, and shouldn’t be really left outside. In the next few sections, we will take a look at each type of target individually, then decide which can or can’t be left outside.
You can get some solid targets right from Amazon like this classic looking target complete with colored zones and point markers.
Hay bales are the standard archery targets. As the name suggests, they are made of hay stacked in a bale. They have been around since forever, and they are the most usable out of all archery targets.
The reason for this is that you can make them almost out of anything, or any type of hay for that matter. Along that line, they could be made anywhere outside. To make a hay bale, you would just have to stack up the hay and put a piece of paper on it.
Hay bales will stop arrows well enough, provide a large body for you to shoot, and can be moved with relative ease. Nevertheless, they aren’t that great when pitted against outdoor elements. For example, hay is very weak against rain or snow.
If rain falls on hay, it may damage it by making it moist and unusable. In short, if the question is: should the hay bale be left outside? The answer is… maybe. If it’s during the spring or a summer season, then you could probably leave them outside.
However, if it’s the autumn season, you shouldn’t leave them outside, as rain will destroy the bales. Likewise, you should make sure that you checked the weather forecast—that is, unless you are using bag targets.
We talk about hay bales specifically in this post, so if you want to use hay make sure to check that out.
Bag targets are similar to hay bales, in that you would stack or fill them. The concept behind the bag is really simple—you would take something that an arrow can pierce, but can provide weight, and put it in a bag. Then, you would put the bag on something to hold, and voilà! You have a target.
The great thing about this type of target is that you can hook it or put it almost anywhere. Doing so allows you to practice shooting at different angles and distances. Unlike hay bales, which are hard to move, a bag target has a lot of mobility.
Its mobility also gives it another, additional quality—it gives you a chance to put it under an improvised roof, thus protecting it from outside conditions. So, if you are looking for an easy way to build an archery target, then this is a way to go.
Its biggest disadvantage is that it’s small and, therefore, less durable than other targets. After all, it’s a material in the bag, and you plan to pierce that bag a lot. With such a small target, you will pierce it in no time. This is totally different from a layered target.
Layered Foam Targets
These targets are the most durable targets, and they last the longest. Additionally, they can withstand outdoor conditions far better than other types of archery targets. However, the biggest problem with this archery target is in the maintenance.
After all, it is a foam. There are different types of layered foam targets, depending on the model you are buying or building yourself. Layered foam targets also tend to be more expensive than other targets and are harder to move around.
They are a lot bigger than other types of archery targets, so while they can withstand the initial impact of outside conditions, if it isn’t maintained properly, you will have more problems. You will need to clean and take care of it properly; otherwise, you may face threats such as mold, bad smell, and degradation of the foam. Once that happens, nothing will help you restore it, even if you have a big and durable target.
Thus, the question falls down to—can you maintain it during the colder seasons and prevent its degradation? You should place them in big yards, where there’s a lot of space to move around, which will help prevent all these issues.
On the other hand, the most interesting and most fragile types are the 3-D targets. These targets will be a completely different offering compared to the previous targets we’ve gone over.
These are the most colorful, alive, and interesting targets out there. They are in the form of actual animals and can be used in various settings to simulate what it looks like to hunt in real life. They are the best way to prepare for an actual hunt.
However, there does exist another problem with that—unlike all other archery targets on this list, this type is a lot harder to maintain. First, there’s the problem of their actual form. When you look at them, there’s a lot of color and materials that are prone to degradation from outside conditions.
Then, there’s also the problem of moving them in different environments. If you have a big archery range, then you can move them around with ease. However, if they are constantly outside, they will chip and slowly break.
To utilize them properly, you will want to take really good care of them and keep them inside when you aren’t using them. If you don’t take proper care of them, they will not prove their worth in the investment you made to get them in the first place.
Therefore, if it’s possible, do not leave them outside. A little bit of care can make them last for the long run—without it, however, you will face a terrible investment.
And hey, maybe you’ll even one to get wacky and make your own. If so, then you’ll probably want to watch this:
Finally, you should keep in mind that there’s really no ultimate or universal archery target. If possible, you should actually combine them to get the most out of your practice. If you’re using only one type of target when practicing, you may actually be missing out on a chance to improve yourself.
Make sure to maintain them properly and keep them secure at all times. Whether you have any or all of them, without proper care, they’ll simply degrade. So, the archer has the responsibility not only to the bow, but also to all equipment they use in training. Use it wisely.