Economical DIY Archery Target

by Tom Ryle on July 29, 2010

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I’ve always been a DIY (do-it-yourself) kind of guy, and I am somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to stuff.  When I come across “stuff” that nobody seems to want or sees value in, I tend to keep it, just in case.  I always seem to find some nook or cranny in my garage to store it until the opportunity to employ it into action presents itself.

Such was the case here about 12 years ago.  I was touring a manufacturing line at work.  I was there to observe technicians as they assembled the products that I (and team) designed.  As I was doing this I noticed a couple people unpacking some sheetmetal computer chassis’ near the warehouse.  They were tossing all of these really nice double-thick dimensional (14″x30″) pieces of corrugated cardboard into a huge recycle bin.  This was a huge distraction for me as my mind started racing for a use for all that pristine cardboard.

Within minutes, I had designed an archery target in my head.  I walked over to inquire about getting some of the stout sheets of cardboard.  They said, “no problem – have at it.”  I hauled a pile out to my truck.

Later that evening at home I started surveying my stash of resources.

The cedar 4″x4″ post I used for the base support was a discarded remnant found in a field, of all places.  The castors were left-over samples from a design project.  The 2″x12″ used for the base and top compression plate was left-over from another house project.

All I needed was the all-thread rods, nuts, and washers which were purchased for about $10.

The result is a target that has stopped thousands of arrows* and is easy to roll out of the way when not in use.  Every year or so I give the nuts a couple turns to compress the cardboard a bit.  And I have yet to swap out the upper layers.

*It’s common knowledge but cardboard targets are not intended for broadhead use.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony April 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm


I have some computer boxes from my office I would like to take advantage of in making this target. Does the cardboard need to be a certain thickness? These are the heavy duty Dell boxes PC are shipped in.




Tom Ryle April 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Hi Tony,

Any corrugated cardboard will work, so yes, sounds like you’ve got a good supply of target material there. If given the choice, you can orient the pieces such that your arrows will be hitting “cross grain” to the internal wavy corrugation laminate. Good luck!



Kris June 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

Hello Tony
I work at local machine shop. We have a lot of shipments going in and out of our warehouse. What they use is a heavy duty industrial corrugated cardboard boxes. The walls are about 1/2″ thk. I will cut the boxes and compress them as you did. My question is how thick is the target you have?


Tom Ryle June 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hi Kris,

My target is 12-1/2″ deep, or in machine shop lingo, 12.500″ (+/- .0025″). Hope you appreciate my humor here, as I worked as a machinist for a long time. In all seriousness, my fastest hunting bows will not bury an arrow up the fletching in this target, as long as you aren’t pounding the exact same spot and keep the target compressed. I only tighten my compression nuts a couple turns about once per year, largely becasue I shoot a variety of targets and when shooting the compressed cardboard, I have 9 masking tape spots dispersed across the face. I move them around periodically. Hope this helps, let me know if you have further questions.

Good luck!


Jeff Jones November 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

This is a great idea. Being a hunter on a budget, I never have found the need for ” new ” equipment if I can get it used or thrown away from someone else. I hunt with a crossbow due to health issues. Will this stop a crossbow bolt goin around 350 fps?? Crossbow targets ( good ones ) start at around $ 80 & up. That’s just nuts. Once again, great idea. Please get back to me at your convenience. Thank you.


Tom Ryle November 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Hi Jeff,

This target will definitely stop arrows (or bolts) shot at ~350 fps. With the all-thread, I can just crank down the nuts to create more compression as needed. I’m with you on the cost of targets, which is why I’m always coming up with my own.



argon blade November 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm

brilliant!!! getting to work meow!


Tom Ryle December 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Thanks Argon! You can use scrap carpet too, layered just like this.



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