Hundreds, if not thousands, of deer each year are harvested off micro-plots. Years ago, when the idea of growing food specifically for deer took root, micro-plots weren’t the norm. The norm was heavy machinery and big, lush fields of clover, winter peas, soybeans and the like.
As the food-plot craze evolved, more and more whitetail hunters wanted to take part, but they didn’t have the amount of land or machinery needed. So, this crowd went small, creating what they could with what they had: micro-plots
I tell you this to lay the groundwork for building your backyard archery range. I shoot my bow almost every single day of the year, and most of the time my shooting sessions are done on my 35-yard backyard range. Would I love to have acres and acres to spread targets and fling projectiles? Of course, but I don’t. If I’m going to stick to my shooting routine and sling a few arrows each and every day, I have to be able to shoot in my backyard.
I’m not going lie — I got bored pounding my Block target day in and day out, especially when I could only shoot at a maximum distance of 35 yards. Here’s how I made my small backyard range exciting, and how you can do the same:
- 3-D targets are pricy, but they’re a must for creating your creative backyard range. Rinehart makes a ton of cool targets. Since I was going small, I purchased small targets. The Woodland Boar, Cinnamon Bear and Alert Turkey targets were my first choice. They are small in size, fit nicely into my backyard setting and don’t break the bank. The good news is you can even go smaller. Rinehart makes a Grouse; varmint targets like a Raccoon, Rabbit, Skunk and Squirrel; and a number of other fun and unique 3-D targets. Morrell’s Back to Back Combo foam target is also an option when you’re looking to save space.
- Regardless of how many targets you end up with (I try to add one a year), set them at different distances around the yard. You can also use dirt, rocks and the like to set them up at different angles. Get creative and have fun.
- Now that your targets are set up, practice shooting the targets in different positions: standing, kneeling, sitting, etc. I currently have three backyard 3-D targets set at ranges of 22, 28 and 34 yards. I move them around frequently to different established stations in my yard.
It doesn’t matter if your backyard only offers 15 yards of shooting distance. You can make it work, and you can make it enjoyable. You may not spend hours a day shooting your backyard range, but according to professional tournament archer Brandon Reyes, you don’t have to.
“The key to practice is perfect practice,” Reyes told me. “I may only fire 12 arrows a day, but I make those arrows perfect — meaning I make sure to make the best shot I possibly can regardless of how far the shot is. Really, that’s the key to shooting each day. Regardless of the weather, distance or other factors, you need to focus on making the best shot you possibly can with each arrow you fire.”
Since incorporating 3-D targets into my backyard range, I’ve seen my in-the-field success soar. In January, February and March, I don’t shoot many arrows past the 35-yard mark. In fact, I shoot most right at 20 yards. I focus on form and proper execution, which carries over into the field.
NOTE: Be sure to abide by all laws and adhere to any home covenants. Before I stared investing coin into my small backyard range, I checked with both my city and local police departments.