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.

How a couple of strips of tape can help your archery?

What you need is a length of card board about 3 foot 6 inches in length and about six inches wide. This may sound a little Blue Peter but it does work. (For anyone who was not raised in the UK, Blue Peter is a long running TV program famous for making stuff with double sided sticky tape, especially in the early 70s and 80s).

3 colours of tape and card board

The idea is similar to the concept I shared the other week with using a bamboo pole to help distance.

My practice bosses as 3ft tall so by making the card 6 inches longer I can attach the card on top of the boss.
In my example I applied a strip of grey tape down the centre of the cardboard along its length.

Grey tape

I then added 6 inch strips of black tape alternating so you had a strip of black then a 6 inch gap showing grey.

Marking out 6 inch sections

The idea being to alternate black and grey so the archer can us it to aid distance and aiming. Some might want to use 4 inch sections but I keep it to 6 so it ties into the bamboo cane method.

White tape

The last thing is to apply a strip of white tape down the centre of the black and grey tape. Cheap masking tape works perfectly for this.
The white tape is what you will be shooting at. The coloured tape is there to aid in distance judgement and to act as a contrast.

Card on the boss

So how do you use this?

Fix the target to the boss and then at 5 yards shoot a set of arrows. I normally shoot 4 arrows in a set when I’m practicing.
I start at lower part of the boss, bottom 6 inches and try and get my arrows in a vertical line gradually moving up the boss and in the white tape.
When I’ve reached the top of the boss I repeat the exercise but moving down from the top of the boss.
The focus is on you being able to put your arrows in the white tape consistently.
When that’s done I move back to my next distance and repeat. I’ll usually do this to about 15 yards or so. Reapplying white tape when needed.
Past 20 yards I focus on my arrows being in the silver or back tape. The way I look at it is if I am in the tape at this distance I’m hoping I should be in the highest score zone when shooting on a course.
The technique is not that dissimilar to one my first archery coach used to use where they would dangle a coloured ribbon down the boss and aim for that.
If you really want to challenge yourself try replacing the white tape with string and ensure each of your arrows are touching it.

So why do this?

Not all scoring zones are central to the boss. If you look at different target faces or 3Ds the height off the ground varies. You might be shooting a deer 3D where the kills 24 inches or more off the ground. With the next target being a 3D crocodile where the highest scoring zones inches off the ground.
I recall one championship where the paper face ermine was on ground level about 8ft away.

Paper Ermin

So this technique helps you focus on keeping your line and adjusting for height.

It also aids you in bending at the waste, sometimes called tea-potting. If you recall the children’s nursery rhyme “I’m a little teapot” that is where it gets it name from.

By the way the keen eyed among you will notice the target doesn’t have the white tape on it. This is because I took the photograph and then realised I hadn’t applied the tape. So I went back and applied it so you had a photograph of what it should look like.

Thanks for reading.