How to make a foam archery target

Updated February 21, 2017

Avid hunters, competitive archers and amateurs alike can benefit from making their own targets. Foam makes a great material for homemade archery targets, as it can withstand multiple arrow strikes and will not damage arrow heads when they enter and leave the target.

Acquire the foam you will use for your target. Select a a high density foam, generally between two and four pounds. This type of foam will exert more pushing power on the arrow, bringing it to a stop without damaging the arrow itself. Polythene and ether foams are good places to start.

Stack the foam boards on top of each other to form the basis for your target. The number of layers you use depends on the size of the target you want. The layers will also depend on the thickness of your boards. Be sure you stack enough layers that you have a sizeable target with which to practice.

Use a banding machine to compress the material. Banding machines will apply a significant amount of compression without a lot of work on your part, and keep the weight consistent and even across the target, which is the best option for a target that is effective in stopping an arrow.

Use a homemade compression system if you do not have access to a banding machine. Set a sturdy wooden board, such as a piece of plywood, on top of the stack of foam. Add significant weight, such as a number of cinder blocks. Continue to add weight until the material is tightly compressed. This may require a significant number of weights. Evenly distribute the weight across the top of the target to ensure that all areas have the same effective stopping power.

Bind the board and weights to the target using strong rope. Tightening the rope will add to the compression of the foam. Secure the rope tightly. Use duct tape or another strong tape to be sure the ropes are secured in place. If you find that the compressed target has become too small for your needs, remove the weights and add more foam. Your ideal finished target should be at least two feet thick. The height will depend on your preference.


Don't be afraid to consult an expert at a gaming or archery store if you are wary about selecting materials. The amount of foam you need to purchase depends on the size of target you wish to create. Have an idea about the size of your target before you purchase material.


Whenever working with weapons, be aware of your surroundings. Even the best archers will miss the target. Be sure there is nothing behind or around the target that can be harmed by arrows.

Things You'll Need

  • Foam boards
  • Banding machine
  • Wooden boards
  • Weights
  • Rope
  • Strong tape
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.