Archery at Home: How to do it Safely

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The ultimate guide to practicing archery at home in the UK

Archery is a sport and hobby that requires constant practice. Once you realise how fun it is; it becomes addictive. You will not want to stop shooting those targets!
However in the UK, not all archery ranges are that close by or accessible. We have a rough guide of how you can get started in archery, which often refers to leaving the home. But what if you want to practice archery whilst you’re at home?

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to take you through everything you’ll need to consider when you want to practice archery at home safely and efficiently.

Is it legal to do archery in the garden (UK)?

The laws around archery are clear and you can read them in detail here. However in short, it’s completely legal to practice within your own home, as long as you do so safely. The main issue is how you manage to practice safely.

If you are not set up appropriately, you can put yourself and others at risk. If your arrow were to hit someone or something whilst you practice archery at home, you are liable for criminal damages.

We will cover both how to practice archery safely in your garden and how to practice archery safely indoors.

For now though, let’s cover some of the basics that can apply to both.

An archery range setup at home with all the appropriate safety features. It has a narrow net tunnel and blanket backstop.
A great example of a garden setup to safely practice archery. Courtesy of Twisted Targets.

The reasons to practice archery at home

The focus of this blog will be how you can shoot safely in your home environment. However it’s worth quickly covering why you would even want to shoot at home in the first place!

  • Practice makes perfect. If you can shoot whenever you want, you will get better much faster than if you can only shoot once or twice a week.
  • Your draw and stance are the most important things to get right. You might not be able to fully safety proof your archery-at-home setup using the advice in this blog. However this would only limit your shooting distance. You can always shoot at home ‘Gaozhen‘ style (5 yards or smaller) just to practice your draw and stance.
  • Shooting arrows is tiring. It’s not recommended to shoot more than 30 arrows in a single practice as a beginner. Having the chance to do archery at home allows you to better judge your energy levels and not feel any peer pressure to continue.

How to practice archery safely at home

Practicing archery at home in the UK essentially boils down to six key areas:

  • Basic safety principals, like how to draw the bow safely
  • Controlling your space of practice
    • Notably, if you are in a small residential garden, you must limit how far you shoot
  • Using non-lethal arrows (mainly, rubber tipped arrowheads)
  • Setting up a good target that is both safe and appropriate for practice
  • Having an appropriate backstop
  • Creating additional avenues of protection (if practicing in your garden especially)

Let’s go over each of them in detail.

Basic principles/safety tips for practicing archery

  1. Do not point the bow at anyone, at any point of the draw!
  2. Do not knock your arrow at all if there’s someone or something between you and the target
  3. Do not shoot an arrow before you are comfortable holding the bowstring back at full draw. Get used to the strength required with your bow, so you don’t prematurely release. However when practicing this, do not release the bowstring without an arrow. This is called dry firing and it is bad for the bowstring. Most notably for compound bow users: dry firing can completely wreck your bow!
  4. Do not fire arrows high up in the air. Always AIM LOW. This is true both for hitting the target (arrows will shoot upwards from the bow) and avoiding any inadvertent damage
  5. Do not fire arrows that have visible signs of wear or tear on them. These will NOT be safe to shoot under any circumstances. This is due to the brittle material used for arrows and speed of travel. What that means is – arrows can splinter and explode! An exploding arrow can ricochet back to you and cause serious damage. When in doubt, throw it out!
  6. When knocking your arrow into the bow, make sure your set up for the draw has the arrow aiming low to begin with. Never knock with a high bow. This is known as the ‘sky draw’ and is not allowed at most archery ranges. Draw with the arrow knocked at the set position (see below) and keep the bow level as you draw
  7. Never shoot without visibility of what is beyond your target.
Black and white outline of a man in a 'set position' of preparing the archery shot sequence
An example of the ‘set position’ when knocking your arrow in preparation for the draw.

Control your space of practice

No matter what type of arrows you shoot or backstop you have in place, it can be difficult to practice archery at home safely unless you control your practice area. This is most important element that allows for the above ‘safety principals’ to be adhered to. If you can’t control your shooting area, then you should not shoot.

This must be an area you can ‘section off’ from the rest of your household. You must make them aware that they can’t enter your practice area when it is in use. You must also give explicit warning to those around you that the practice is taking place. This will of course differ depending on whether you have an indoor or outdoor (i.e garden) location.

An image of an arrow heading towards a tree target

How to setup your garden for safe archery practice:

  • Be certain that there are no people or animals within 50 metres of your practice area. Tell your family and/or housemates to not enter the garden whilst you practice. If your garden borders private land, you must have clear and obvious vision that the land is clear up to 50 metres beyond your target
  • Alert any neighbours about what you will be doing. It may be an awkward conversation, but it will help to mitigate any potential fallout should something go wrong. The most important thing is to make sure they are not in their garden when you shoot!
  • If possible – shoot towards your own house rather than the back fence! This will automatically create a high and wide enough backstop. Better to put your own possessions at risk than the chance of hitting someone or someone else’s property (i.e lawsuits)
  • Build an efficient backstop to catch arrows from wide shots and over-hit shots (more on this further down)
  • If you must shoot towards fences, make sure all fences within line of sight of the target have additional padding. This is in addition to your backstops. You can use old carpets or wet curtains for this. The best material though is typically rubber. Fences should be at least 3 metres high, with thick wood or metal. However keep in mind that most arrowheads will pierce through typical garden fences, even if they are metal!
  • Create a narrow tunnel of netting if possible (more examples given in backstop section)
  • Do not use broadhead arrows and if possible, use rubber-tipped arrowheads
A first-person view of someone holding an arrow and bow with the target in their peripheral vision. The target is in focus whilst the arrow is blurred, showing an example of how to passively aim the bow and arrow.
Do you live in a small, residential garden?

Through using this guide, you can create a safer space to practice archery in your garden. But the truth is, this works best for larger indoor spaces or gardens, in non-residential areas. If you are in a small garden in a residential area, being completely safe when shooting at over 10 metres will be very difficult, no matter what steps you take. The solution therefore in this situation is to limit how far you shoot.

‘Gaozhen practice’ is a special type of archery practice which shoots at targets less than 5 metres distance. You will still need the right type of arrow, target and backstop to practice safely, but you will mitigate most risks with this method. The biggest thing that can go wrong in archery practice as a beginner is shooting off-target. This is of course much more difficult to do when the target is right in front of you!

The above image is an example of Gaozhen archery practice courtesy of Justin Ma’s YouTube channel. Though it may look silly, this is perfectly fine practice to master your stance and form. This will suffice between sessions at a proper archery range.

Of course you will still need a good backstop with this type of practice. In fact, even more so, as the chance of a ricochet arrow hitting you is greater. A soft backstop (see details further below) will ensure this does not happen.

How to set up an indoors archery range at home:

If you have the space, it is always recommended to practice archery indoors. For several obvious reasons:

  1. It’s safer to have a more contained space for any wayward shots
  2. It’s not weather dependent
  3. It’s better to adjust your stance and improve aim when there are no external factors (like wind or temperature) to take into account
  4. You can use regular arrows rather than safety arrows if you have a good backstop

However you still want to take the same type of precautions as listed above, in order to mitigate damages and risks. So, to clarify that would be:

  • Making sure your space is big enough for full draw movement. Shooting at less than 5 metres is safest but anywhere between 10-20 yards would be fine in a narrow room
  • Lock the door to the room when you are practicing to ‘control your space’
  • Move any valuable or delicate objects out of the line of fire. This is anywhere within 180 degrees (horizontally) of your forward facing bow
  • You must still use an appropriate backstop, flathead arrows and soft target. If you are using a shed – do not presume your arrows will not pierce through most metal and wood walls. Even the walls of your house (if indoors) can be pierced straight through. We will go over the details for good back stops further down this blog.

Which archery arrows are safe for practicing at home?

First a reality check. There are no ‘proper’ arrows that you can practice archery with that will NOT cause some type of damage if used irresponsibly.

The only thing that is ‘non-lethal’ in the world of archery are foam-tipped arrows, more commonly used for ‘Archery TAG’. These are fun to practice with but will not have the same feeling as a real arrow, so the practice will only be for the benefit of your draw. You will not build up the muscle memory for real archery by practicing archery TAG. However, Archery TAG is a fun game that can be enjoyed on its own merits!

An example of foam tipped arrows, used in Archery TAG

However, as the point of this guide is to help you practice at home safely, there are clearly some arrow types which are safer than others.

It should be obvious by now that broadhead arrows should not be used at home. There really is no need to use them for target practice, and they are also going to pierce through the majority of backstops. In practice archery it is typically field points & bullet tip arrowheads that you will use. These will still cause serious damage if shot directly at someone (including penetration) but are less likely to cut through most backstops or injure someone on a ricochet.

Guide for which arrowhead types you can use at home

The same goes for any type of rounded tip or blunt tip. They are still extremely dangerous. Just because they are ‘blunt’ tipped arrows does not mean they are safe. Plus, blunt tips will destroy your target much quicker than field tips!

The best accessory we have found to allow you to practice archery properly and be legitimately safe – are rubber tipped arrowheads. See below for more detail on this.

Using rubber arrowheads for non-lethal practice archery at home

The main happy medium to ensure less-lethal arrow use at home, are rubber tips. These will add additional weight to your arrow but will not have the same surface area as the foam tips. Therefore you can practice effectively using these, and they are going to cause less damage than field points. The most important thing is they will not pierce skin, so in most circumstances should be non-lethal. The best thing is though, that most rubber tips can be fitted on-top of field/bullet/blunt point arrows.

REMEMBER: whilst some arrows might be sold as ‘practice arrows’, you won’t get much use from them. All arrows are unique and will impact your form. Practicing with one arrow type and shooting with another, will create differing results. That’s why rubber tips that can fit onto your normal shooting arrows are really the best way to go.

Here’s a link to where you can get a good example of rubber tips for arrow heads (the ones from the image above)

Here’s another link to the example of the rubber tipped arrowhead in the image below.

You must shoot rubber arrow heads at a soft target or the arrow will crack and break very easily. This is because the rubber causes the arrow to flex and absorb a lot of the energy that would normally have been released in the tip.

Keep in mind rubber tips can still potentially crack bones and bruise muscle if shot with force and on a direct hit. It is still dangerous to shoot – especially around kids and pets – so please continue to abide the safety principles.

What about other flat arrow tips?

We mentioned before that blunt tips can’t really be considered safe because they will still cause serious damage. This is true, unless the surface of the arrowhead is very wide. It will still hurt but is unlikely to puncture skin beyond the surface.

Here’s an example of a wide blunt tip you can apply to existing arrows. This will make your arrows ‘safer’ but can still hurt like hell! Plus, they are going to add a lot of weight on the front of the arrow. So we would still suggest that the previous rubber tips are the way to go.

Creating a safe and appropriate backstop to practice archery at home

We’ve re-ordered this section to be further up the page, because in many respects a good backstop is more important than a good target for practicing archery safely. For all of the backstop examples below, we’re presuming you are using a basic sheet of paper as a target. [printable version available here]

A backstop is any materials you place behind your target that will help you ‘catch’ arrows if they miss the target. As you’re shooting in this direction, this is the most important area to ‘safety proof’ your home setup.

A backstop can take the form of three potential layers:

  • A thick material fixed onto your target but is wider than the target face for closely missed shots
  • A net that covers the entire width and height of your practice space behind the target for shots that go well wide or well over
  • Additional padding on any walls/surfaces (such as a garden fence) which are behind or alongside your backstop netting

Now the best backstop setup will include all three of the above layers. However we would argue that the most crucial part of the backstop for practicing at home is the net. That’s because this is the most inexpensive and simplest solution which also provides the widest area of safety. Let’s look at custom solutions you can get at home for all three backstop layers.

This paper target face is affixed to a thick straw base with an additional backstop netting behind the target

What makes a good backstop for a target face?

The best backstops directly behind the target face will be a spongey material that is thick enough to hold the arrow in place without damaging it. Backstops that are too hard will cause most arrowheads to dent or break apart on impact. Hard backstops (like brick walls) can also risk the arrow flying back and hitting you. By using softer materials, you will see the shock of the arrow flight is absorbed on impact. However, if the material you use is too soft with certain arrow types, they will get stuck inside! Also remember:

  1. The target backstop has to be higher and wider than your target. It needs to catch the immediate arrows that will miss more often than not
  2. The material has to be sturdy and thick (at least an inch thick)
  3. Do not place the backstop directly against your back fence or inside wall. Leave enough room for additional backstops and ricochets.

Let’s go over some of the materials you can use for a target backstop:

1. Target Boss
Target Boss - click to read

The Target Boss is the standard for most archery ranges and competitions. It is simply an easle & target-face combination. Essentially it’s four legged stand which holds up a small face of soft material that a flat paper target will affix to. Though not the biggest backstop, for shooting at under 10 metres this can be appropriate alongside additional backstop netting. You can order these online from most archery shops or they are also available on amazon.

2. Straw or Hay
Straw or Hay - click to read

Straw or hay is the bog-standard option for those that live nearer the countryside. If you have any farms nearby, then this can be the inexpensive and easy choice. If not, there are websites (like this one) which can deliver 8-12kg of hay bale for £6-7.

Hay bale is great as a backstop because it stops your arrows dead, but won’t make them difficult to retrieve! The only downside is that it might cause a bit of a mess with loose hay, and won’t last beyond six months or so. They can also get damaged easily by the weather and attract insects.

Try to get at least 4-6 stacks of 8-12kg haybale behind your target. Just one of them will not be tall enough. You can stack the bales on top of each other like the example below. You will also need to re-manoeuvre the hay inside the bale after each session to cover up the gaps and holes made by the arrows!

Another neat tip. You can throw some tar pooling or even an old sheet over the hay bales in order to stop the mess from getting everywhere on impact! This would also help keep them in good condition in your garden should it ever rain.

3. Rubber Mat
Foam or Rubber Mat - click to read

Mats are the backstop of choice for those within residential areas as you can often find them easier than you think. Naturally you will need to find a way to keep the mat horizontal before placing the target face on it. You can do this either by building a custom wooden/metal frame to hold the mat or by hanging.

Where can you find these types of mats then in the U.K.? Children’s play mats at nurseries are often made of hard foam and could be used. However the best mats are used by sport centres or laid out for your local gym or gymnastics hall. You also can actually pick rubber mating up from your local hardware store as it is often used for roofing insulation.

If you want something quick and easy to grab off amazon that works perfectly well as a Rubber Mat, consider these examples:

One last thing to consider with rubber backstops:

Field points, though often good for target practice, will tend to get stuck in rubber mats. So it would be best to use bullet or rounded tips (or of course, the rubber tips we’ve shown you above) for shooting at a rubber backstop.

A horse mat being hung on a garage. Just a target face needed and if shot at from the outside – it’s good to go!

4. Foam or gel plastic
Foam or Rubber Mat - click to read

Foam target backstops are the most common you will find on archery websites and stores. You can see that an outlet like Merlin’s archery website has a huge variety of foam targets. Densely compressed foam is guaranteed to stop an arrow but can be difficult to retrieve any type of non-rubber arrowhead. The most difficult to retrieve will be field points.

The only issue with standard foam targets from the previously shown sites is that they cannot be customised. If foam is the way you want to go, it’s still better to find a foam tile/flooring online or in a hardware store. This way you can design the length you want in the backstop to make sure it’s an appropriate backstop.

Here’s a good example of a foam tiling on Amazon which is fairly cheap considering the size you get! Click the link to have a look.

You can also get foam sheets, though these have to be used in conjunction with Plywood or other hard backstops (see next section).

5. Plywood
Plywood backstop - click to read

Plywood is perhaps one of the most commonly talked about backstop materials on archery forums. It must be said that generally, this is for using in conjunction with softer material from this list. Wood on its own as a backstop will be sure to damage your arrows on a direct hit (over time).

However when customising a backstop, it has to be said that this is one of the most widely attainable materials. Literally any hardware store (like Wickes or B&Q) in the U.K. will stock it. It needs to be at least 18mm (over 1/2 inch) and would be best to stack multiple layers. Three layers will normally do well enough to stop an arrow in place under 40# poundage.

But really this should only be used to support a soft target, like a bag or foam mat as the below example shows.

An example of using plywood to make a backstop. Ideally this would have a rubber or foam layer in front of the wood (instead of cardboard). This would prevent damage to arrowheads.

Creating a backstop-stand for your backstop and target

So as discussed in the previous examples, backstops are often made from hay bales, plywood, foam sheets and rubber mats.

However these materials might not always be straightforward to ‘hang’ or ‘hold up’ in the area of your target. This is where it might be necessary to build your own frame or platform to hold the backstop.

You will obviously have to get creative with this! However we can recommend some basic materials below as well as some examples:

  • The frame of the backstop could be made from additional wood. In the UK, ‘culled wood’ is popularly use in home setups as it is often free and easy to acquire. Wood can easily make a free-standing backstop like this one below, which has nailed a rubber mat to a simple wooden structure
  • PVC pipe or metal pipe can often be acquired from hardware stores like Halfords, B&Q etc. The below is an example of what you could put together as a frame using these structural materials
  • You can even use an old clothes hanger/display rack like this one to hang up some netting or a rubber mat as additional padding to your backstop.

What makes a good backstop netting for practicing archery at home?

Archery netting is typically made from synthetic fibre that has very tight meshes, so the arrow cannot pass through. Some specific arrow netting has no meshing at all and is just a densely woven fabric. Remember these points when setting up backstop netting:

  1. All netting should be used as an additional/second layer backstop for bows that are 40# or higher and when using field/bullet points. There is no guarantee that any net cannot be pierced when shot at directly with high draw weight bows and sharp arrowheads
  2. Don’t make your net too taut! This will cause higher impact on your arrow when it hits and increase risk of any piercing. Allow additional slack to absorb the arrow’s impact. Don’t fasten it too tight
  3. Also make sure that your netting is always at least a foot and a half distance from the nearest fence or wall if indoors.

Let’s go over some examples of what makes a good archery net backstop:

1. Official Archery Safety Netting
Official Archery Safety Netting - click to read

Typically made from Heavy Nylon Mesh, official Archery nets are the most expensive option but also the most durable. Though none can promise to stop a direct hit from a sharp point arrow; most will do the job.

These often have the appearance of tennis nets and will need additional string to be hung up. Place them behind your target backstop in a wide enough coverage to ensure to accidental misfire can reach beyond it.. Here’s some examples of the best places online to get official archery nets:

  • You can find official Archery netting on popular online stores like Quicks and Merlins archery. However the shipping costs often make this more expensive than Amazon. You can get the official Archery net in all size variations on this amazon link here. For the price and convenience of Amazon delivery we really haven’t been able to find anything better. This net will do the trick and make sure you have an appropriate secondary backstop.
  • If you’re looking for a cheaper option, try out either eBay or Facebook Marketplace. You can find second-hand archery nets here that will often do the trick for a fraction of the price!

2. Alternative sport safety nets (cricket, baseball, golf)
Alternative spot safety nets (cricket, baseball, golf) - click to read

As per the above, however there is a risk when using backstop nets for these sports as the meshes are often too wide to stop arrows.

You want to search for a ‘fine net’, such as those used in golf tunnels or cricket backstops.

Here’s an example from Amazon of a large golf net that would work as a backstop.

3. Hanging rubber mats as nets
Hanging rubber mats as nets - click to read

Mats are the backstop of choice when looking at just behind the target, but they can also be hung and used like netting. Naturally you will need to find a way to keep the mat horizontal by either using a frame or hanging it. You might also have to connect a few mats together in order to reach the required surface area.

You can find mats like this in your local gym or nursery as they are often used for flooring. They can also be found in hardware stores as they’re often used for insulation. If you want something quick and easy to grab off amazon: a mat that is used for horse stall stables works very well and can be found in a variety of sizes (click here).

4. Carpet, rugs or curtains
Carpet, rugs or curtains - click to read

Another option for your archery backstop netting is to simply use old thick materials within your household. Old carpet or rug that you’re no longer using? The chances are that the base of that carpet or rug is rubber. If not, it will be some type of sturdy material that can add the layer of thickness necessary to stop most target arrows.

You have to make sure that the fabric is thick relative to your draw weight. So for a 30# bow at least an inch of thickness will be needed. For higher draw weights, potentially two inches.

Curtains are also an option however typically these will not be thick enough in one single layer. If you double layer them and get them ‘wet’ before you practice, they should have the sturdyness to stop arrows.

In a way, a curtain like this could cover a wider surface area even when folded into two layers. It’s just the smell of wet curtain you’ll have to deal with!

Picking the right target to go with your backstops

So in reality when shooting at home for practice, the target itself should be somewhat irrelevant. Getting used to drawing and hitting a target safely is the priority. Therefore it’s much more important for your backstop to be secured and appropriate.

However if you want to know how consistently you are scoring, getting a target to hit might be more satisfying then just shooting at a rubber matt or foam block.

Of course, the simplest and easiest solution is to just get a bullseye paper target like this one. You can also download a PNG of a target here and just print it out. However if you simply MUST get a larger type of target to shoot at, then you must take the following into consideration:

  • Compatibility with your arrow type is essential. Unless you are shooting metallic arrows; a soft target is what you need to shoot at. Even shooting at a wooden brick with carbon arrows will slowly damage them over time
  • Consider the lifespan of the target. If a dozen or so arrows will tear the target to pieces, it’s not worth getting
  • Consider the size and compatibility with your backstop. Picking a tiny target to start with means your backstop is going to need to be very durable. Picking a huge target means you’ll need an appropriately huge backstop!

Here’s some examples of targets you can get:

Foam Target

The classic block foam target is one of the most standardised targets for at-home practice.

It has come a long way in terms of development and stands out as the best choice for shooting at home. It’s easy to retrieve your arrows from and it won’t damage them either. They’re also inexpensive for the longevity you get, but the ‘branded’ foam targets do have a higher base price.

Or here’s another type of flat-foam target that is both cheap and durable. However you’ll need an easel to prop it up and a target face to make it complete.

Bag target

Bag targets are the cost-effective second tier of homemade / practice targets. You can essentially fill any bag that has a type of woven material for the exterior frame, with a soft synthetic fibre filling. However you must fill the bag full and tight so that it is rigid to touch.

Branded target bags that are pre-made this way can be picked up cheaply online.

These are great for beginners. Here’s some of the pros of a bag target:

  • It’s super easy to retrieve arrows from them and they will act as a backstop themselves
  • A DIY version can be done at home for basically no expense. You might stuff it with old clothes or newspaper, but you would have to really STUFF it tight to make it effective. Most materials will not sufficiently stop the arrow unless it is air-tight
  • Easy to hang or hold in place on a stand (like an old stool for example).

Some of the cons of a bag target:

  • They’re not very weatherproof and will break down eventually
  • They can be much heavier than other targets, so difficult to move around your home setup
  • For low draw weights, arrows can actually bounce off the bags without penetrating.

You also need to make sure the bag is bigger than 1 foot in diameter.

Here’s an example of a bag target that is actually weatherproof and super durable. Yellow jacket are probably the market leaders for bag targets.

Straw circle target

A third tier target but easily the cheapest and simplest to get. This is just a slightly nicer version of a paper-face target. However it is a little supported by thick straw to help catch the arrow.

Certainly we would say this is the most aesthetically pleasing of the popular archery targets you can get. It’s also the simplest type of target to hang up or hold up in any home environment. Some of the more expensive options even have additional layers of straw for a little backstop effect.

This is an example of the cheapest and highest rated straw target on Amazon. As you can see it includes a strap to be hung. Hanging this type of target in front of a large rubber matt, with additional netting behind, would be an ideal backstop setup for shooting at home.

You can buy this target by clicking here.

A more expensive version of the above target, but will provide a better target backstop. You won’t want to skip out on adding your rubber matt or netting but this will make it easier to retrieve your arrows.

Click here if you want to get this one.

Creating additional avenues of protection

The final element of safety-proofing your home for practicing archery is to consider the avenue or angle of trajectory for the arrow.

We’ve covered so far that:

  • You needed a target to shoot at that could absorb the arrow and not pass through it
  • You needed a target backstop that absorbs near misses for misfiring just outside the target zone
  • You needed netting behind the target backstop an additional backstop for shots that can go high or wide of the target.

However – what if you miss shoot completely? What if your arrow veers diagonally across a 90 degree angle away from the target area?

This is where we have to consider creating ‘net tunnels’ and other types of padding of walls/fences on the left and right of your shooting zone.

In this diagram, the black panels represent your walls or fences. The red areas represent the backstops you will need in place. The target backstop and the net backstop are in your forward vision. However anywhere 90 degrees left or right of your bow’s field of vision will require padding.

In terms of what you can use to pad the sides of your walls or fences, it’s not worth repeating ourselves here. Read back to the section on archery netting and get yourself something similar to line the walls of your exterior setup.

One thing we will recommend though to make the whole process simpler is a tunnel netting. Like in the first image we showed at the top of this blog. Adding a net that covers your arrow’s trajectory or ‘line of sight’ to the target will perfect the final tier of your backstops.

Here’s an example of a type of tunnel netting you can get on Amazon which could act as this type of backstop support.

Conclusions and examples of how to safety proof your archery practice at home

To conclude, we want to reiterate again that safely shooting at home relies on backstops. The number of backstops required is relative to the distance of your shooting. Plus, we would always recommend rubber-tipped arrowheads just to guarantee that extra bit of safety.

You could shoot Gaozhen practice style in almost ANY home environment, with just one good target backstop.

However the moment you want to shoot further than 4 metres distance, in an area where a wayward arrow could pose legal risks, you need more backstops.

Let’s look at an example of a typical garden setup in a suburban area:

Image courtesy of reddit user u/midgear

This is a narrow garden in a residential area, so it is a risk to shoot in a place like this. However there are two approaches this person could take to shoot safely within this garden:

  • Shoot towards the metallic fence from the staircase. They would have to place a foam target placed on the metallic stool, and an archery netting behind that. Arrows can pierce metal, but this metal fence looks particularly thick, so would act as a third backstop behind the netting. However the netting would have to be long enough to extend over the fence and act as a type of ‘hood’. This would prevent any shots from going over the fence. However at a distance of around 5 metres, there wouldn’t be much risk here. The sideways avenues are protected by distance on the right side, and the archer’s house as a backstop on the left side.
  • Shoot towards the house. As above, however this would require a heavy amount of side netting and tunnelling to not put the left-hand-side neighbours property at risk.

So that’s it! Keep safe and follow this guide and you can practice your way to archery mastery in no time.