HOW TO: A DIY Archery Target For Your Home

My buddy, Jerud, has researched quite a few “DIY” archery targets, but he was never fully satisfied with the designs that he found.  Taking matters into his own hands, he came up with a durable, functional, easy-to-build field point target, and offered to share his design and instructions here, with you.

DIY Archery Target

This project should take about 3-4 hours, and only requires some basic building skills and tools.  Here’s what you need…

Required Materials:

  • Carpet or cardboard, or both; and lots of it
  • 2×4’s
  • (4) 3/8” x 36” all-thread
  • (8 each) 3/8” nuts, washers and oversized washers
  • 3 1/2” decking screws/wood screws


  • Tape measure
  • Sharpie or carpenter’s pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Saw horses
  • ½” wood drill bit
  • Wrench
  • Arrow Puller (not for what you’d think)

Now that you know what you need, let’s get started…

For the remainder of these instructions I will be referring to the size of the target that I build, which is 36” wide by 23” tall and 12” deep, but you can modify these plans to build any size you wish.  For my target, the uncompressed stack of carpet was 32” tall. So, plan on a minimum of 5”-7” of compression for the carpet stacks (depends on type of carpet). Cardboard would be less, but I’m not sure how much less. My target is comprised of a 9’x8’ leftover piece of carpet, an 8’x6’ area rug, a handful of scrap pieces, and 1 box that was approximately 37” wide x 36” tall x 4” deep.

You want to make the most of every piece of material that you have, so take some time and carefully lay out your cuts to get the most useable material. Going 36” wide with the first piece of carpet (9’x8) was a no-brainer on the cut lines. The area rug took a little bit of thinking. I used 1 of my 2×4’s as a straight edge and a Sharpie to mark the cut lines. I made all of the cuts with a utility knife. You don’t need to worry about following the lines exactly – just start cutting and stay close, and it will all work out in the end. If you choose the cardboard route, I highly recommend a table saw for doing the cuts. (Note: Pieces not quite long enough or wide enough can be paired with other similar pieces to complete out a layer. Just make sure to overlap and place complete pieces before doing another “mixed” layer.)

Total time measuring and cutting carpet – 2 hours.

DIY Archery Target - Frame

I took a different route with the frame, compared to many other DIY target plans that are on the Internet. I turned my 2x4s on end and made a framework similar to a studded wall. Most other targets had used 2×4’s or larger lumber laying flat. This will cause the board to bow in the middle and loose compression on the target. Or, in extreme cases, the boards could fail.

One area of improvement would be to attach plywood to the side of each frame that will be in contact with the carpet. This is not necessary and will take up some of your available length of the all thread. I cut the main 2×4’s four inches wider than the carpet on each side. So for 36” carpet width, my 2×4’s are 44”. I cut the intermediate bracing 2×4’s eight inches, so the total depth of the frame is 11” compared to the 12” depth of carpet. For the holes in the 2×4’s for the all-thread, I measured in 2” from the end and drilled a ½” hole. Slide the all-thread through the holes and place oversized washer, regular washer, and nut on each end. Just get the nuts started flush on the end of the all-thread. All attachments were made with 3 ½” decking screws.

Total time cutting (power miter) and assembling (cordless drill) the frame – 1 hour.

Now it’s time to start adding the carpet to the frame. I laid the frame face down on the floor and started adding the layers of carpet. For anyone doing the math, my uncompressed stack was 32” tall and my available space in the frame is 29”. If you have help this is not an issue. I did not have help. Back to work. I started adding the carpet with the frame laying flat on the floor.  This corrects any errors in carpet cuts and makes the front flush. I ran out of room with about 6” stack of carpet remaining, so I started tightening the all thread down. I tightened it to the point that I could pick the frame up and the carpet stayed in place. I set the frame upright on saw horses and then removed the upper portion of the frame. This allowed me to add the remaining 6” stack of carpet, reinstall the frame and begin tightening it back down. The bottom all0thread I only tightened to about 4 threads showing. The top all-thread I initially tightened to about 5 ½” of thread showing. I let it set overnight – ok, I shot it up some then let it set – and then tightened it about another 1” of thread showing. How much you tighten it will depend upon your type of carpet. I would suggest compressing it about 5 inches and then shoot a “junk” arrow at the target and evaluate the results.

Total time installing carpet and tightening (wrench and arrow puller to hold all thread from turning) – 30 minutes.

Total build time 3.5 hours.

DIY Archery Target with Custom Target FacesI have been shooting and only one spot of target with no issues so far. My initial assessment is that I will get several years (even at 3,650 arrows a year) out of this target, along with the satisfaction that comes with building something useful yourself.

To give your practice more focus (and fun!) cover the front of the target with cardboard and then tape on any kind of printed target face that you want to shoot.

An optional addition…

I plan to make a 2×6” frame on casters for the target, so that I can free up my saw horses and easily move the target. I will install eyebolts in the top frame, so I can remove it from the 2×6 caster frame and hang it outside. Also, my arrows protrude through the back of the target a few inches, so I might add slot on the back using 2×4’s and plywood to allow me to slide in a piece of 2” pink foam insulation board. I am also considering just boxing in the back side with 2×4’s and plywood and packing it full/tight with old rags as a cheaper alternative. It’s really not a big issue currently, but I’m always tweaking.  (Tweaking as in “improving”.  Not to be confused with twerking).

Materials required for the addition…

  • Plywood ¼” minimum
  • 2” pink foam insulation board
  • 2” decking screws
  • 2×6’s
  • Caster wheels
  • Eye bolts

A warning for micro-diameter arrows…

This target will not stop my micro-diameter, Vicotry VAP arrows. The concrete wall behind my target is all that kept these arrows from a complete pass-through. (They hit so hard that the tip chipped the wall.) I can shoot Carbon Express Pile Drivers (476gr @ 279fps) with no problems, but the Victory VAP (401gr @ 300fps) will pass through.  To remedy this, I will be building a 4-6” deep rag compartment on the back, which should stop the micro-diameter arrows.

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Matt Staser

    Very cool. I can see this being an awesome target for traditional shooters. How would this stand up just sitting outside in the elements. Just wet arrows??

    • Jerud Earnest

      It will eventually start breaking down. Covering it and keeping rodents out will go a long way to extending the life.

      • Matt Staser

        Ya, I guess the glue holding the carpet together will break down quickly and then it would all fall apart. All targets should be covered up outside when not in use anyway.

  • DeerLab

    Great idea. How easy is it to pull field arrows from the carpet?

    • Jerud Earnest

      Most shots my 3 year old daughter can pull them out (it’s above her head). Ever once in a while 1 will stick and require whole hand removal. From a how much should I compact it, I would rather them be a little more than 2 figure removal.

  • Scott Larimore

    Very nice. I just completed one very similar but with cardboard that is apprx 45″ x 45″ x 9″thk. My Carbon Express arrows at 270’/s go through about 4″ on the back side. Not happy about that. I like your idea of adding a rag box on the back. Thanks again, Scott

    • Jerud Earnest

      How many inches of compacting did you do with the cardboard? I am finishing up my rag compartment this week. Ended up going 12″ deep because I had enough rags. I figured go overkill to stop those VAPs.

      • Scott Larimore

        I only got about 3″ of compaction. But, I’m still experimenting with it. I want to see if I can get it tighter and thus stop the arrows better.

  • Emily Anderson

    Great idea! I’m going to rope my husband, Troy, into making one of these for us. Officially adding it to the the “honey do” list. Thanks, Jerud!

    • Jerud Earnest

      Sorry Troy!

  • greg

    I made a backstop by hanging a horse stall rubber mat up with some lumber. I shoot at a bag that I hang in front of it. The mat is 3/4″ recycled rubber (probably tires) and it stops any arrows that anyone has flung at it. It’s a little difficult pulling arrows until you get the hang of it, but it beats looking for my arrows in the treeline…

    • SoleAdventure

      Good idea, Greg!

  • Jerud Earnest

    Ended up going overkill since I decided to buy a sheet of plywood. I made a 12 ” deep rag compartment out of 3/4″ plywood. It now stops my VAPs. Also sounds like a bass drum when thearrows hit.

  • Scott Rutherford

    For a backstop on the back side of the target try using a truck mud flap from the Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt, or truckstop. They will usually give you the old ones for free.

  • Mike

    Hi, I have a question. Which type of carpet would you prefer to use, shaggy carpet or thin office type?

    • SoleAdventure

      You can sort of see in the photos that some longer-ish carpet was used, and it worked well. Not having built a target with the thinner stuff, I can’t comment for sure. Obviously you would need to more “sheets” to match the volume, and I would somewhat be concerned that at that point you’re mainly dealing with just the carpet backing to stop the arrow (which is probably harder on the arrows), vs. having the “buffer” of the softer carpet threads.

  • Mario Strada

    Just stumbled on it. This is a good idea. I was going to laminate some cardboard but now I think I’ll go to the carpet store and see if they have some leftover for cheap. Better yet, if someone is changing their carpet I could get their old one.

    Great idea. It’s frustrating to have a bow and being unable to shoot it.