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How To Make Your Own DIY Foam Archery Targets | 10 Steps

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Tim Rhodes

Archery has become a known sport in popular culture during the last few years due to scenes featured in hit movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and The Hobbit.

Unlike the movies, shooting for your target requires discipline during your set-up stance, grip, and execution.

You’ll notice that to aim the arrow where you want it to go means you work on your anchor point, your back tension, and your follow-through.

But that’s not all, because you’ll have to time your breathing, so you exhale when you release the shot and avoid a jerk action.

As you can see, there is so much that goes into shooting the bow and arrow, but for now, we’ll focus on what you can do to improve your aim.

The fastest and easiest way to sharpen your aim is to have a target you can practice on as often as possible.

That means you have your foam target box that you can easily transport or, better yet, have ready in your backyard.

Table of Contents

How To Make Your Own DIY Foam Archery Targets In 10 Steps

Without further ado, let’s now talk about how to make your own DIY foam archery targets in ten steps.

1. Make a Shortlist of What You’ll Need

Like you would prepare for the grocery, it’s important to make a list of items you need to buy to lessen the unnecessary trips that will eat up your time.

You must figure out what you need before jumping into the car to go straight to the hardware or supplies store.

For this archery target foam, the reusable 2’x3’ size foam is the practical item to build because it is interchangeable.

The first thing to acquire is the 24” floor mats, which are like the kiddie giant puzzle pieces used to cushion a toddler’s fall.

You’ll need as many pieces to stack as about 20 inches so try to get hold of as many as you can.

The cheapest way to search for the mats is to buy from Craigslist for second-hand mats as low as U$25.

You’ll need to get your 2×4 wooden materials, which are six pieces of 3’ length and two pieces of 1’length, car trunk carpet measuring 1m x 1m, four pieces of casters/wheels, wood glue, T-square, and a sharpie marker.

The hardware would be small pieces like the 3” exterior wood screws with star heads, eight pieces of the ⅜” coarse thread nuts, eight pieces of the ⅜” washers, eight pieces ½” washers.

The four pieces of 4’ length of coarse threaded rod, then cut from the originally bought 6” length.

You’ll want to borrow the box cutter, circular or hand saw, power drill with a ½” drill auger bit, grinder with cutoff disc or hacksaw, ⅜” adjustable spanner wrench, and locking pliers.

Quick Pointers

  • Make two lists to save on time for your trip to the hardware and supplies store
  • Craigslist has different prices of second-hand foam per city so you should compare other listings

2. Assembling the Foam

There is an easy and fast way to set up the foam, and there is a more tedious way that involves measurements.

You could go the easy way by simply putting the foam together using so you can make a smooth surface to shoot at.

But since you’re constructing this DIY, you might as well make it last as long as possible.

That means taking the extra effort to reuse the foam pieces by allowing the foams to interchange when needed.

You’ll use the T-square to measure a 12” mark from the edge of each foam piece, then use the Sharpie marker to draw the line in the center.

Do the same when you rotate the other side and mark the 12” from the foam edge, so the pieces then draw a straight line in the center.

With a box cutter, cut carefully on the marker to make a smooth cut and divide the foam into two half pieces.

Stack up the same side cut pieces to make an even stacked foam structure a solid piece.

The other edges of the foam are on the other side but what you’re after is the evenly cut middle side in one neat pile.

Set aside all pieces once you’re done with the same side in the same direction, as this will set into the target box shortly.

Quick Pointers

  • Line up the side you cut in the middle as the top side
  • Clean out any uneven cuts so it’s uniformly even

3. Building the Base for the Target

You’ll want to decide If you’re going to put your target box in the backyard and lay it on top of a ledge but be limited with the set height and distance.

But if your goal is to use different angles during practice, you can’t rely on a ledge or a raised surface.

Your best bet is to make a base or feet of the target box that is both heavy and stable so it can stand independently.

This is so you don’t depend on make-shift surfaces that will compromise the height and the space you’ll need.

You can keep it flat, or an option is to put wheels or casters underneath the feet so you can move it at different angles or locations.

The first thing is to cut the 2×4 wood into six pieces of 3’ length and two pieces of 1’ length.

You’ll take four pieces of the 3’ length to make the shape of the letter H with a double middle bar with a 12” space between the two 2×4 wooden slabs.

You then measure 4 ½” from the end of the centerboard and use the Sharpie marker to mark with dots in the middle.

Securing the ½” drill bit to the drill, you can start boring a hole through the marked dots in the middle of the base or the double bar of the H-base.

When you’re done with drilling the wood to make a hole, to secure the base, use the screws to fasten the four wood lengths together on the target box.

Quick Pointers

  • Marking the wood with a Sharpie allows correct placement of the hole on the wood
  • If you decide to add wheels to the base, make sure it has a locking mechanism so the wind can’t blow it

4. Building the Top of the Target Base

To keep the foam snug and compressed, you’ll need to make the top base to hold the foam pieces together.

Gather all the remaining pieces of the 2×4 wood, which is part of the material list, the two pieces of the 3’length and two pieces of the 1′ length.

You’ll use the 2×4 wood to shape a center rectangle using the four pieces put together.

Take note that you’ll need to keep the 8″ of board sticking out on either side.

When you’ve done the shape of a central rectangle, you’ll need to use the same measurement of the foot base to drill four more ½” holes in the top base.

Make sure you use the screws to keep the four lengths together while you make the central triangle.

The holes have to line up as the threaded rods will go through the foam target’s top base and foot base.

Remember the purpose of the top base will hold the threaded rods on top as it comes from the target base’s feet.

Its weight will compress the foam into a solid base, so there is no space in-between the foam pieces.

Quick Pointers

  • The top base with a rectangle in the center is a guide for you to secure the four 2×4 wood
  • It’s best to line up the base with the top and mark it with a sharpie so the holes are almost the same measurement as the base

5. Secure the Threaded Rods

Imagine building a box wherein the sides are rods with the base and the top made of wood.

The coarse threaded rod gives support to keep the foam in place and link the top and feet base of the target box.

To get the coarse thread into the foot and top base, you’ll need to start from the bottom, which is the foot base.

Carefully insert each from under the base and go through the holes on opposite sides.

Lean the foot base sideways and put the threaded rods through the holes of the wood.

Secure on the underside of the base a ½” washer, followed by a ⅜” washer.

Afterward, secure from under the wood base with a ⅜” nut.

You’ll need to screw in the nut until you see an inch rod sticking out past the nut.

Once you have the rods secured from the base, both side-supports should be standing on their own.

Take note in handling the coarse thread as the edges are on the sharp side, so be careful you don’t snag your clothing or cut your fingers.

The target box can now hold the stack of foam in place.

Quick Pointers

  • Insert the threaded rod from the foot base and fasten with the washers and nuts to secure the rod
  • Take note of the inch rod sticking out past the nut

6. Place the Foam into the Target Box

You will now have all the foam with the cut part on the same side and facing the same way on top of each other like a stack.

You’ll need to stack them up as high as 20″ or almost two ruler lengths to make a 2’x3′ target.

Remember that you will need to rearrange this once the side facing target gets worn out from the arrow’s many strikes.

As you do your practice, the arrow will hit different parts of the target, and the foam gets shot out.

At this point, you will need to reshuffle the foam to put the worn-out ones on the very bottom or very top of the target.

If it is all shot out, then you’ll dig into your new cut-up foam and replace the ones in the middle part area to have a solid center.

So best to have a whole set of puzzle foam or two sets ready to replace.

As you get better, you will notice that your shot will concentrate on a spot, so this is where you will need to move the new foam.

This is why it’s best to keep buying second-hand foam, as suggested earlier in Craigslist, for ready replenishment.

It would be pointless to spend on brand new gym foam or puzzle foam if you can go the more economical route.

Quick Pointers

  • Line up the foam with the cut side as the front part of the target box
  • Keep a steady stock of puzzle foams for ready replacement when the target area gets worn out from multiple arrow hits

7. Secure and Compress the Foam

You’ll have to gather the cut up pieces of the puzzle foam you made and stack them up in the foot base.

Holding the coarse threaded rod, screw the nuts in before you cut with a grinder or a hacksaw to avoid difficulty in getting in the nuts after.

You can screw the nuts down the threaded rod then test it out by pulling it up once to make sure it is secured.

Using a Sharpie marker, make a mark on how far down the nuts are on the threaded rod.

Lock them onto the threaded rod using the locking pliers to prevent spinning or losing the snug hold.

To tighten the nuts on each rod, use a spanner wrench, taking turns until it is snug and moving to the next one.

You keep tightening until you see the compressed foam with visible marks on the threaded rods.

Your goal is to keep it tightly compressed that the foam pieces aren’t moving at all.

You’ll want to see if extracting the arrow from the foam becomes too tight and difficult to take out or done with a minimum tug.

You can adjust the nuts to allow a bit of space after you’ve tried shooting through a few times.

Quick Pointers

  • The compressed foam is tightened to secure the nuts in the threaded rod
  • The foam tightness is solid enough that it doesn’t move, but not so tight that the arrows cannot be taken out easily

8. Add the Carpet Face on the Target Box

Adding a carpet face to the front part of the target box adds to the foam archery target box’s aesthetic aspect.

It makes it look professional compared to a stack of different colored foam with a target paper stuck in the middle of the box.

You can get away with the foam pieces as is, but with a little effort, you can make your target box look nice and professional.

A solid background allows the eyes to focus on the printed target design lines, so this helps your aim.

Simply get hold of a 1m x 1m carpet used for the car trunk and cover the foam’s front part.

You can then use the printed target sheet design and attach it to your target box’s carpet face.

Although after using this a few times, you will notice holes in the carpet, it serves as a protective layer to the foam.

This allows the center part to be less worn out or lengthens the foam’s life because the arrow will first go through the carpet.

Instead of directly going through the foam, the thicker fabric of the carpet softens the blunt contact’s impact until it stays on the target.

Your target box is ready for use with a nice carpet face as a solid backdrop to the printed target paper.

Quick Pointers

  • The carpet of the car trunk is the chosen material as the face for the target box
  • The carpet allows extra layer protection to the foam pieces during target practice

9. Fix the Length of Threaded Rod

Before you begin with the next step of attaching the threaded rods, you must first get the correct measurement of 4′ length.

You’ll need to cut off the 6′ length ⅜” coarse threaded rod to measure 4′ length because that’s what is sold in the hardware.

Cutting the threaded rods isn’t as easy as you think because when you don’t do it right, you mangle the thread making it difficult to get a nut screwed in.

Also, neglecting to do it the right way will result in unnecessary waste of time and energy because a simple screwing into the rod will be difficult.

To properly cut a threaded rod, you first mark the place where you need to cut the rod and screw in two nuts before the marked spot.

Cut against the shoulder using a hacksaw to create a clean right-angled cut before loosening the nut.

With a file, you’ll use a slight bevel around the end of the cut to clear the sharp edges or burrs created by the hacksaw.

Remember that you are working with a metal object, so you have to watch your hands and the edges while working.

Other than the sharp edges, adjusting the threaded rod is easy and hassle-free.

You now have your very own adjustable base for the foam archery target box ready for use.

Quick Pointers

  • It’s best if you take time to study how to cut the threaded rod the right way, otherwise, you will struggle with getting the nuts and bolts into the rod
  • Remember to screw in the 2 nuts before you cut the coarse threaded rod to save you time and effort

10. Test your Archery Target Foam

You’ve come to the most exciting part to test your DIY foam target in the comfort and privacy of your place.

Take your aim and start shooting but pay extra attention to the behavior of the arrow.

As the arrow lands in the center of the target box, see if it sinks in the center and sticks out in the back.

If this happens, just loosen the nuts on the threaded rods and pull out the foam.

Rearranging the top and bottom foam pieces and moving in the center of the target, then tighten the nuts back to compress.

But due to the thickness of the foam, it seldom happens that the arrow goes all the way through.

An easy remedy is to place corrugated cardboards between the puzzle mats to give it extra support in the center.

Other times, you will find melted foam on the arrows after it’s taken out of the target.

Simply wash it off with soap and water, then dry it off, and it’s ready to use again.

You’re set to go for another round of target practice in the comfort of your home.

Quick Pointers

  • The center wears out from multiple arrow hits
  • It’s time to reshuffle the foam to maintain a solid base for the center once the arrows reach the backside of the target box.

Final Thoughts

Of the many kinds of archery target devices, the foam target box is quite economical as it can be reused many times.

You can buy from the store and pay a big amount, or you can opt to make it yourself.

With the easy steps above, you’ll easily make your own foam archery target box with a quick trip to the hardware and supply store.

Then a little time and patience in the drilling and assembly of the base and the box in your very own backyard or personal space.

The puzzle foam used for the archery target is available in any sports or toy store as well as sold as a second-hand item if sourced on Craigslist.

The design target foam box is shuffled to the center part of the target wears out from many uses.

With an easy turn of the nut from the top base, you move the top and bottom pieces towards the center for a solid target.

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