Setting up a target boss – revisited

With recent worldwide developments concerning COVID-19 seeing more and people self isolating, working from home or simply having a lot more spare time on their hands, there has been quite a lot of posts on Facebook and other sites about home ranges, or practising at home.

I am going to highlight a few things you might need to consider. I am no expert and this is by no means a definitive list, but more of a starting point of things for you to consider.

  • What are you going to shoot at? What type of target or target boss? Will it be sturdy enough to stop your arrows at close range? Check out What target is best for me?
  • Can you safely shoot in your garden without endangering yourself or others? Think of pets, child, wildlife or even surrounding livestock? Consider also garden sheds, greenhouse and garages.
  • What of overshoots into neighbouring gardens, farmers fields etc?
  • Do you have insurance if anything goes wrong? Chances are your house insurance won’t cover you and you may have to take out some form of specific insurance.

Location, location, location

No I’m not talking about the TV property program commonly seen in the UK, but the physical location of your target boss. Look at the space surrounding the boss in the image below. What do you see?

Target Boss

Firstly there appears to be a stile behind and to the right of the boss. Does this mean there is a footpath behind the gate and we are likely to see people walking past?

What about the space behind the boss with regards to overshoot? Do you need to have something that will catch and stop a stray arrow? A safe over shoot area is vital for any target positioning. The metal gate seen behind this boss is also a risk. If an arrow misses the boss and hits the gate it is likely to deflect in any direction.

Did you spot the wall of the building to the left side of the target? You wouldn’t be able to see people approaching from that direction.

Securing the boss to the stakes is vital to ensure it doesn’t topple over when arrows are removed. It is worth considering whether the stakes need to be proud of the boss, unlike the image below. Also try to put them to the side or rear of the boss frame so as to avoid or limit the number of arrows hitting them.

One quick cautionary tale of a friend who set up a target boss in his garden. Unfortunately it was quite an old target boss and the arrow went through it, through the wooden shed wall behind and straight into his lawnmower! He wasn’t allowed to practise at home anymore.

Those are a few thoughts and topics to consider when positioning practise bosses. Have you got any further advice? If so why not add a comment below. Lets look at the orientation and securing of the target boss now.

Securing the boss

Setting up a boss is a common activity, but does require some thought and care to ensure it is done both correctly and safely, whether this be on an archery course or as in this example in the garden for a home practice range. Here you can see a boss having been erected ready for practise. Looks good? Can you spot any issues?closeup

Well one commonly made mistake when setting up a boss of this nature is forgetting to check where the metal binding for the plastic strapping is located. These should always be on the back of the boss and never facing the direction of the shot.

Why? The binding clips used for banding can damage arrow tips if they are hit. I have also seen arrows shot from a compound bow hit one of these metal fastenings and bounce straight back some 15 yards, landing at the archers feet.

You should also ensure the wood frame of the boss is always to the side and not on top or bottom.

Why? If the arrow falls low, it will run the risk of hitting and embedding itself in the wooden frame, which is likely to  result in some work to extract. If the arrow impacts at the top of the boss it runs the risk of deflecting off in any direction . So rotate the boss to ensure the wood frames are on the side of the boss.

Target Boss

Insurance

Give some serious consideration when it comes to insurance. Some people believe that being members of a national archery society or club gives them cover to shoot at home, which isn’t necessarily true. I know this is something that has come up on the National Field Archery Society Facebook group and I expect it the subject has been raised on other sites too.

We have our own personal insurance that covers Sharon and myself when shooting on our home range, which we got through Gunplan (https://www.gunplan.co.uk/) . The field is also registered as one of the clubs sites as we use it for training sessions.

N.B. The target boss doesn’t normally sit there, it was simply positioned there for the photos for this post. It’s normally in the field beyond the gate. We are fortunate in owning the field at the rear of the property and know there is no public access or routes to it other than via our boundary. We have set up a 40 yard pegged range, with a 60ft over shoot before a backstop of old carpets at the fence line and then  30ft high earth embankment beyond.

I hope you find this article of interest and if you have any comments let me know. I’m putting a brief one together on the use of backstop nets too, when I get the chance. Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone.

What target is best for me?

So you might have got a bow for Christmas and are wondering if you can get a target to do some practice. What works and what doesn’t? How much will they cost? How long do they last?  Well all the answers to  these questions are dependent on what you are shooting or wanting to accomplish. Archery targets come in all shapes and sizes. As with everything there are merits and flaws for all but I’m going to try and summarise my thoughts and offer some factors to consider if you are thinking of investing in one for yourself or club.
I’m going to look at 3 types of targets
  • Bag bosses
  • Layered foam bosses
  • 3D targets
Mybo bag target

Mybo bag target

Bag bosses

These comprise of a bag made from a plastic weave similar to builders rubble bags and are packed with pieces of foam, fabric and plastic wrapping. They are normally the cheapest option and come in a couple of different sizes. I’ve had a couple of different ones of these over the years.
I’ve found they are good for low to medium poundage bows. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them for compound or crossbow archers as the arrows would quickly wear them out.
This brings me to the downside which is the bag material itself can get shot out as you shoot the centre. The bag material can be replaced or patched as I’ve known a few clubs to use old builders rubble sacks for coverings. I wrote a review of the Mybo bag boss a while back.
Being a boss you can pin different faces in them as required and this does help with spreading the wear and tare.
Overall they work pretty well for light usage and we’ve bought a couple for the club to use at have a go events and occasional use.

Layered foam bosses

Target Boss

Layered foam bosses are very common on most field courses and consist of layers of thin foam with a wood frames on two of  the long  sides that are then bound together. Mine have been out for a couple of years and still work well.
While more expensive than bag bosses they do work for heavier poundage bows.  Normal sizes are 90 x 90 cm or 130cm x 130cm.
The advantage of these is you can pin any target face on them, so this makes them versatile .
Things to consider are
  • The wooden frames rotting over time as the wood is not always pressure treated. We’ve used fence preserver on ours to help them last longer and disguising or camouflaging the frames so they are less obvious.
  • Try to avoid setting shots so arrows enter at an angle to the layers as this promotes the foam being torn or damaged more quickly.
  • Over time the banding can slacken so you may need to re-tighten or replace the banding.
  • The boss can get the heart shot out, with foam sheets tearing over time. A solution to this is to dismantle the target and move the torn sheets to the side and less damaged ones inward then rebind them.
  • Make sure the wood frame is on the side of the boss and not top & bottom. You don’t want an arrow to glance off the wood and fly high.
Its a common practice to repair these bosses and sometimes you’ll find you might be repairing 2 or 3 of them at a time. The end result being two usable bosses and the damaged sheets being used to stuff bag bosses.

3D targets

3D target set up for shoot off

3D target set up for shoot off

3D targets look great and can prove very useful if you are training for hunting or maybe a specific tournament. The downside is they can be expensive with a decent 3D deer costing a few hundred pounds. They are also pretty limited as unlike foam or bag bosses you can’t pin a different target face up and shoot that.
They can be repaired when they get shot out and there are some good YouTube videos covering this. Greg at 3D archery YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4HdCXofIA4jsWi1q9AdBUA) has run a series on repairing a variety of 3ds.
I feel that some of the smaller 3ds are not worth the money as they will get shot out quickly or are so hard lighter poundage bows struggle to penetrate.
A quick Google search will show there are several manufacturers of 3Ds,  Gamut (https://3dtargets.co.uk/), Rinehart (https://www.rinehart3d.com/), Delta McKenzie (https://dmtargets.com/) are just a few. All of them are now offering a variety from raccoons to grizzly bears.
Rinehart targets whilst expensive do provide the option of replacement centres which are sold separately. Not all manufacturers do this so.
Personally for my home range I have a couple of layered foam bosses which work well for practice and coaching. I’ve also got a couple of bag bosses but they need to be repaired.
Anyway I hope this has proved to be helpful. If you have any comments or feel I’ve missed something then let me know.
Thanks for reading