Field Test: 2008 Bowhunting Targets

From an early 2008 Bowhunting World issue, the magazine’s dynamic editorial duo set out to find the best bow targets for your practice sessions. Here is what they discovered.
Field Test: 2008 Bowhunting Targets

Field Logic GlenDel Full Rut

Website: Field Logic

Field Logic GlendelThis is one of our tester’s favorite 3-D targets for several reasons, but most glaring is its eye-catching size. Representing a 300-pound buck that stands 37 inches at the shoulder and sports a 150-inch record-book rack, this is one of the largest whitetail targets available. That kind of size helps promote confidence when attempting longer-distance shots, but also allows you to become familiar with the dimensions of a true northern-range trophy buck—no small thing if you’ve never seen one up close and personal, and you’re looking to squeeze off a smooth shot.

This one is filled with smart details—such as the extra-large layered-foam insert that’s encased in foam and offers four separate, easy pulling, offset vital zones to ensure you’re not shooting into the same area: Horizontal layers, Vertical Layers, Tree Stand view, and Quartering Away view.

We also like the fact that you can easily swivel the buck’s head for different looks and perspectives. For even more versatility we like to combine the FullRut with Field Logic’s Grand Stand free-standing target stand ($30, sold separately) so you can quickly and easily change the position of the entire target without the hassle of prying up and pounding individual metal stakes. — Mark Melotik

American Whitetail King Series Camp Guide Target

Website: American Whitetail 

American Whitetail KingAmerican Whitetail’s 20-inch-square by 18-inch-deep Camp Guide target is designated as a broadhead target. The foam is layered from front to back in different densities: low in front, medium in the middle, and high in back. American Whitetail says that this produces a target that has all the healing properties of a low-density target with the stopping power and longevity of a high-density target. This solid target is reinforced with plastic on the top and bottom, and construction-type screws secure the handle.

Four bull’s-eyes and a crown in the center are painted on the front; otherwise it is plain. It’s touted as a professional-grade broadhead target, but it’s a pretty basic broadhead target. Compared to other cube-style targets, especially for its size, the price is right. I found arrow pulling to be a breeze. — Mike Strandlund

American Whitetail C-920 Cube

Website: American Whitetail

American Whitetail CubeAmerican Whitetail says its Cube targets are designed for broadheads. We confirmed it on the 20x20x20 version: The field points were difficult to remove, but the broadheads came out easily.

It has solid bonded laminations, which, in our experience, makes a superior broadhead target. When laminations are not bonded, then it’s like having a target that’s already been sliced up by broadheads. Bonded laminations also eliminate the need for cardboard or plastic bands for containment, so shooting all sides is easy. There are graphics painted on four of those sides.

It’s an extra-thick target that will last a long time, even if you shoot it up. In my shooting, my arrows penetrated about a fourth of the way through, so if you shoot up one face, you’re still going to have plenty of target to shoot on the other sides.

There are handles from which you can hang the target, if you want, but it will dangle at an angle. It is quite lightweight for such a big target. — Mike Strandlund

Delta Targets Elite Pronghorn

Website: Delta Targets

Delta Targets Elite Pronghorn If ultra-realistic 3-D targets trip your trigger like they do ours, this one deserves a solid look. This one raises the bar on realism and at the same time offers first-timers and other inexperienced “prairie goat” hunters a good example of what a Pope-and-Young recordbook-caliber pronghorn looks like. Few bowhunters would pass on this big guy.

Another great attribute is this target’s extreme light weight for a full-size 3-D design—toting around more “typical” 3-Ds can be plain hard work, especially if you’re moving a few regularly. It measures a lifelike 53x41x42.5x11 inches.

Especially when shot with field points, we’d like to see arrow removal somewhat easier; as it stands, if lots of field point use was your goal we’d recommend treating the front third of arrow shafts with one of the current “arrow grease” products that lube your arrows for easier removal. Thankfully, arrows were easier to remove from the “non-vital” target areas, a nice change from the 3-Ds of several years ago when missing the vitals often meant a serious backache. — Mark Melotik

Pacific Bow Butts Mini Butt

Website: Pacific Bow Butts

Pacific Bow ButtsThis unique company’s goal is to manufacture durable and affordable targets that are also biodegradable friendly. They do that primarily by using decidedly “low-tech” compressed straw, made with a rather high-tech method that includes shredding, then forming and orientating stems, adding a natural bonding agent, and compression-molding and banding, before the final covering process.

Pacific Bow Butts (which can be found in several public ranges across the country) accept both and fieldpoints and broadheads, and I can unequivocally state they are incredibly durable and long-lasting. I’m still shooting several of the larger models that I’ve had for more than six years, during which time they’ve absorbed untold thousands of shots, while using field points almost exclusively. I’ve noticed wear increases dramatically with broadheads. Arrow removal compares with the easiest I’ve seen.

The new Mini Butt (20x20x10 inches; 35 pounds) is the company’s smallest and lightest model, and my field point-tipped arrows consistently protruded out the back of the target about 3 inches, when shot from 20 yards, out of a 70-pound bow—not so surprising for a 10-inch-thick target. At any size, these targets are rather heavy, though that’s not much of a factor when considering the larger “range” sizes, which remain our favorites from this company. — Mark Melotik

McKenzie Natra-Look Large Alert Deer

Website: McKenzie 3D Targets

McKenzie Natra Look TargetsThere’s just no doubt extreme realism helps to get our blood boiling while shooting high-quality 3-Ds. This nice and large target designed to represent a 170-pound buck stands 36 inches at the shoulder and is 56 inches long—and is one of the best we’ve seen at capturing the steely stare of a cagey buck. It’s these kinds of details that can help you remain calm while at full draw later on in the field.

We admit to being less than impressed with the arrow removal of the SuperFlex Foam midsection—after our first few shots with carbon arrows we finally had to lay the target down and use a foot, and some serious back muscles, to get leverage to remove them. On the flip side, this is one of McKenzie’s “Competition” series targets, and, because this line is used extensively by archery clubs, it requires the kind of foam that offers long-lasting durability. In a nutshell, there’s a very definite tradeoff here. We’ve found 3-D targets that offer significantly easier arrow pulling, but we also know those targets won’t hold up nearly as well. In the end, we’d recommend any user of this target use some type of arrow lube/grease to enhance removal—which we did with good results. You might also want to consider using a slick shaft such as the Easton Full Metal Jacket (pictured) that we’ve found works exceptionally well with 3-D targets. — Mark Melotik

Hips Hot Shot ProShooter & Kick-N-Shoot Targets

Website: Hips Targets

Hips Hot Shot Pro ShooterHips Targets’ 24x24x18-inch Hot Shot ProShooter and 9-inch-square Kick-N-Shoot targets are good, basic cube targets that offer shooting on all six sides. Both are made from heat-welded layered Dow Chemical Performance Foam which, Hips says, makes them last five times longer than open layered foam targets. We were not sure, however, how well the foam would weather if we left the target outside for any length of time. Target graphics (five bull’s-eyes on one side, two on other sides) are printed on plastic decals mounted to the open foam sides as well as the plastic band that surrounds the target on four sides.

Both targets are lightweight and have handles in back for easier carry and set-up.

We shot both broadheads and field points. The broadheads were easier to pull out, but we had a harder time with the field points. These targets would not be our choice for simple spot shooting, but then that’s not what they were designed for. (Over the years, I have found that cotton bags are best for field points.)

Just for fun during our testing, we took the “Kick-N-Shoot” name literally, but despite our hardest kicks, the target’s lighter density and weight only allowed it to fly out 10 to 15 yards. But it’s ideal for a stationary camp target, especially if your packing space is limited. — Mike Strandlund

The Block 4x4 Portable

Website: The Block Targets

The Block 4 x 4If we found the Black Hole was an “ideal” camp target, this one approaches the realm of “ultimate.” Like the Black Hole this one accepts any head: field points, fixed and mechanical heads, with a layered design that is more durable than most because it also includes a dense foam outer “shell” that virtually eliminates slivering.

The layers are tightly packed—and we did have a little trouble removing field point-tipped arrows—(getting them “started” definitely required a little elbow grease from arrows launched from a 70-pound bow)—but broadheads were relatively easy and overall, we were happy with the required arrow-removal effort. The “4x4” name comes from the four separate faces that offer opportunities to shoot a five-spot, vitals area, four diamonds, and treestand vitals.

We really like the durability, especially with broadheads. You won’t shoot through it, and we also like the option of using one target virtually all season long, switching back and forth between field points and broadheads at will.

At 23 pounds this is not a “light” target, and at 18x18x16 inches it isn’t the most compact, but seems to strike a good balance for those looking for the ultimate, portable versatility it provides. Other available models include the 4x4 Pup ($85; 16x16x12 inches) and the 4x4 Pro ($150, 21x21x16 inches). — Mark Melotik

Magic Stop MS Lite

Website: Magic Stop Targets

Magic Stop MS LiteThis compact 20x20x10-inch target offers a lot of what we like in an ultra-portable camp target, especially its ultralight design that is just a fraction of the weight of some similar-sized targets in this test.

We like the fact that the heavy-duty 6.5-ounce UV-coated bag is made to stand alone or hang with nylon straps. The bag features 10 dots on each side, and is lined with foam that’s designed to keep arrows straighter. As a bonus, we also found easy two-finger removal.

Stopping power is impressive; while shooting field points out of a 70-pound bow, we never had an arrow protrude out the back of this 10-inch-thick target. The company says that using both sides of the target will allow for a lifespan of 3,000 shots—easily a full season of shooting for many bowhunters. It’ll last several years as a camp target.

Regardless of the fact that this one is field point only, it’s still a great bargain for anyone on a budget or those requiring a solid backup. — Mark Melotik

Morrell Super Duper Target

Website: Morrell Targets

Morrell Super Duper TargetIt feels like a cotton bag target, but Morrell’s Super Duper target is actually 66 layers of a floating burlap center, polyfiber filling and poly wrapping. I’ve shot a lot of different broadhead targets; but when it comes to field points I always go to Morrell because removal is so easy. The Super Duper features a deer graphic on one side with heart/lung area; the other side shows several bull’s-eyes and a flame graphic at the bottom. It also features an E-Z tote handle and grommets at the top corners for hanging. Replacement covers are available for $18 to extend target life.

Again, it’s the only thing to use for field points. It is pretty heavy. Shipping weight is 28 pounds, so you won’t want to haul it around a lot. I’ve left these targets outside, and they seem to improve with age. In fact when they get soggy, they stop arrows better, and the arrows are easier to pull out. — Mike Strandlund


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