Archery target boss rebuilding and banding

From time to time your target bosses will need repair. Sometimes this is a complete rebuild, other times the boss simply needs the banding tightening. In a recent post I discussed a tip on banding bosses, in today’s article I’m going to cover a rebuild on a layered foam target boss.

These types bosses are very common on most field courses and consist of layers of thin foam with wooden sides. The foam is compressed between the wood sides and remains compressed thanks to the banding straps which run round the outside of the boss.

Finished boss

Rebuilding a boss can be a daunting prospect, but taking it slowly and steadily helps. I think the most nervous part is removing the old banding and realising there is no turning back.
One tip – ideally you want to avoid having buckles or banding fasteners on the side of the boss facing the archers . This avoids arrows hitting them, as this both runs the risk of damaging the arrow and the banding holding the boss together. Many years ago I recall being on the practise bosses for one shoot next to a very competent compound archer who released his arrow, only to have it bounce straight back 15 yards to his feet. It had hit the metal fastenings of the banding.
We try to set them on the side or top of the boss, this means they are accessible and we can be tightened up if needed.
This boss is in pretty bad state,  firstly it’s pretty old over 4 years and not been repaired recently. Also it’s only been used one way round so all the damage is one side of the form sheets. That is visible from the image below.

Not looking good

Sometimes the wood framework on the sides of the bosses needs replacing. Fortunately in this case the wood is mostly okay and should last another year or two.
I think one reason for this might be the boss is not in direct contact with the ground and instead sits on a couple of layers of polystyrene foam. This appears to have helped keep it from rotting away. The wood had also been treated with wood preservatives previously. It’s worth noting that the latest target bosses we’ve bought for the club needed wood preservative applying.
So the first step is to remove the existing banding so you can view the condition of the foam.

Side showing more damage than other side

I started this outdoors but the wind picked up so moved into the shed. The last thing you want is to have the foam blown across the field or woods. It might look comical but would be a pain.

Not in a healthy state

I removed the foam in sections which allowed me to inspect the sheets removing those that were the worse damaged.
Take care when doing this as you never know what you might find. Considering me and Sharon don’t shoot carbons it was a bit of a surprise to find a sliver of carbon about 3 mm wide and 12 cm long between the layers.

Carbon fibre sliver found in the boss.

Once all the foam has been removed and checked, I start to stack it back into a boss shape on top of one of the wooden sides. The foam from the edges of the boss nearest the frames were the least damaged, so I used these in the centre and those that had been in the centre and were still usable I moved to the sides.
I would be assembling the boss effectively on its side layering the foam sheets on top of one another, trying to ensure they were all straight and lined up. Easier said than done as I discovered some sheets (the yellow ones) were slightly smaller than the others).

So it begins with first layer

By moving the foam sheets from the sides to the centre  meant the best quality foam would make up the centre of boss where most of the arrows would be hitting.

Gradually build up the layers

When I have stacked the foam I placed the other wooden side on top.
It is really worth taking your time to do this as you want to keep it straight. I ended up redoing this a couple of times to make sure the boss was reasonably square. For future I might build some form of backing board to stack them against to ensure they are stright and even.
I then used a ratchet strap on the boss to tighten it up in readiness for banding positioning it centrally initially so I could get the first couple of banding straps on.

Strap to tighten and compress foam.

Side on view

I then moved the ratchet strap to run along the sides, top and bottom. This allowed me to add the last two banding straps.
Once these were tight I returned to the first two to tighten them back up. I expected this would be necessary as the foam became more compressed.

Tightening the first banding.

You will end up with a smaller target as you removed the damaged foam. This one went from a 900 mm to an 820 mm. For this reason it’s not uncommon to work on a few bosses at a time, as you might find that out of 3 or 4 initial bosses you will end up with only 2 or 3 repaired ones
Don’t throw the old bits of foam away as you can always use them to repair and refill a bag boss. That’s my next project as I have a couple behind the shed in need of repair. Also your shed or garage floor is going to get covered in bits of foam.

Floor covered in bits

Another tip – We use these buckles for banding as it allows us to tighten the tension of the straps. It’s worth noting they can slacken up over time. The good thing is it’s easy to tighten them up.
Don’t over compress the bosses as we’ve found light poundage junior bows struggle to penetrate and arrows can bounce back. After all this you will end up with a repaired boss. Granted it may not look as pretty as a brand new one but it will hopefully work.

Finished boss

I hope you find this a useful guide to how I go about repairing bosses.
Thanks for reading.

Equipment Review – Hawke 400 range finder

Those who follow me on Instagram will know I have recently bought a range finder.
Now many of you might think this a strange thing for someone who has always said they are an instinctive archer at heart. Why purchase one if you don’t gap or use sights? Also why buy one when the NFAS is the home of unmarked distances?
Well this purchase is more to do with course laying than my own shooting.

I have found that when you are setting a course, whether 3D or using bosses it is beneficial to be able to range each shot accurately. This helps to both ensure a good mix of distances but also aids safety, as you can use it to check distances of overshoots etc.

Having done some research or rather that should read lots of research on numerous Google searches and a few postings on different sites asking for advise and guidance I was pretty sure of a couple of things.
The mix of different options was huge.

The prices ranged from £50 to £300 plus

I was fortunate to have a couple of fellow archers who were kind enough to lend me theirs to have a play with and the entry level ones seem to work pretty well. Quite often archers will use a golf range finder as opposed to one designed for shooting, as shooting ones tend to range over hundreds of yards at times.

I also popped down to our local gun shop to ask their advice and to see what options they had. (Shooting Supplies Limited http://shootingsuppliesltd.co.uk/ ) I have to say they incredibly helpful going through the different options and what’s available, along with practical advice, thanks guys.

I ended up buying a Hawke 400 from the shop in question and it was a choice between the Hunter and Professional unit. As it was I went for the Professional in the end as it was only slightly more expensive and offered a couple of features I thought might prove useful, more on these later.

Taken from the Hawke website

First impressions are very positive

The unit is light and easy to carry, though the only criticism I have so far is the carrying pouch which is a little small, making it difficult to stow and retrieve easily. I have managed to get the lanyard caught in the pouch zipper a couple of times. The unit measures approximately 3 inches high x 4.5 inches long and 2 inches thick so small enough to store in my jacket pocket.

The unit can be set for measuring in yards or metres, through the instructions don’t explain how to change between them. I had to Google it.! Where would we be without Google. Maybe including this in the user manual and if it is already then making it more obvious for fools like me.
Clarity through the viewfinder is pretty good making it fairly easy to locate targets. It has a x6 magnification through the unit and ways only 180g / 6.3oz so nothing really. Full manufactures breakdown can be found here https://uk.hawkeoptics.com/laser-range-finder-pro-400.html
Like many range finders the unit displays details through the viewfinder such as yardage. this is shown in black text over the image so it’s a little hard to view with a dark background.
I am yet to check the accuracy against a measured distances. Distances I have used it on so far are from 5 yards to 90, but I need to check the calibration.

Update – I have now tried this on my range finding it very useful and more importantly accurate. Distance wise it matches the long measuring tape I have and the marked distances on my range, which is 40 yards, however if I factor in my garden I can easily got back over 60 yards and I’ve tested it at this distance too.
One thing that this unit has already helped me with is the judgement on height difference. I knew the range was on a slight incline and with the Pro 400 I have bene able to identify the incline over 20 / 40 / 60 yards.
Hawke state there is +/- 1 m and I think that is true as I have found ranging in on the top of the boss and then at the bottom can sometimes give a difference of a yard.

The different modes are described by the manufacturer as

“Beeline mode measures the horizontal distance to a target.

Height mode measures how high the target is in relation to the range finder.
Angle mode measures the angle of projection. It will be measured to the nearest half a degree.”
One feature the unit offers over the Hunter is in giving you the angle to target. This was one of the reasons I went for the Professional over the Hunter. I wanted to know the elevation to or from targets to the shooting peg, something that I felt would be very useful if you are setting shots on hillsides or across dips and valleys.

Having used this now to range in targets on uneven terrain I can confirm it is very helpful when setting shots or for your own shooting. The only thing I have not tried is using it in wet weather so I can’t testify to how water resistant or accurate it is on a rainy day, though knowing the UK I expect this will be tested at sometime in the summer.

Overall I think it is a great bit of kit, useful for all archers who want to improve their distance judgement or like myself want to continue to develop their skills in course laying. I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10. The only reason it’s not a 10 is the pouch and I haven’t tried it in the rain.

Thanks for reading.