I’m going to show you how to make a foam archery target that can be reshuffled multiple times once the center is shot out (which, as you can see, would otherwise be a big problem for me, being a good shot, it happens pretty quickly on store purchased foam targets to justify the $150 or so I’d spend on them; and if you’re not a good shot, you’d have to purchase four of them to do so. This goal solves both of these problems.
It’s big enough to hit a beginner at 2’x3′ and because you can take it apart and rearrange the foam, it’s going to last at least 10X longer than any store purchased target. Moreover, if it gets wet (like straw bales), it won’t rot and fall apart and it can stop arrows from even extremely powerful bows. So, let’s get started!
Step 1: Parts List
- 24 “square foam floor mats (the kind that looks like giant puzzle pieces), the better, although you should have at least a 16” stack that will make a 2’x2′ target, if you want 2’x3′, you need about a 20 “stack. Check craigslist to find them cheap, if you buy so many new ones, you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars, but people are selling them all the time for about $25.
- 6 – 3′ lengths of 2×4
- 2 – 1′ lengths of 2×4
- 3″ Exterior wood screws (I prefer star heads, and self-drilling tips for their tendency to not strip, and for the time you save by not having to drill pilot holes)
- Box cutter
- Circular saw (or hand saw)
- Power drill (preferably corded, you need one with a fair amount of power)
- 1/2″ drill bit (I used an auger bit)
- Grinder with cutoff disc (or hacksaw)
- 8 – 3/8″ nuts (coarse thread)
- 8 – 3/8″ washers
- 8 – 1/2″ washers
- 4 – 4′ lengths of 3/8″ coarse threaded rod (you may have to buy them in 6′ lengths)
- 3/8″ spanner wrench (or adjustable spanner)
- Locking pliers (they don’t have to be locking, but it makes things easier)
Step 2: Prepare the Foam
First, measure and cut the pieces of foam into an appropriate size for a target. You might think about now, “Why don’t I just tape my foam together and put it on the ground?” If you want, you might be able to shuffle the pieces around when the center is shot out. That’s fine if you decide to do that, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Anyway, here’s what you need to do: take your T-square and measure 12 “from each piece’s edge, and make a little mark there. Restore them all facing the same way after you make the mark. Now, rotate the stack 90 degrees and use the T-square to draw a line through the mark you’ve made before. Use the cutter box to cut all the pieces of foam in half along the li.
Step 3: Build the Base
Now it’s time for your target to build something to sit on. If you haven’t cut your 2x4s into the required lengths already, do that now (you’ll need lengths of 6-3′ and 2-1′). Take 4 of the 3′ lengths and make the shape you see in the first picture using the screws. There are 12 “of board sticking out on each side past the horizontal boards in the middle. Measure 4 1/2” from the end of each center board after you’ve made the base and place dots in the middle. Use your 1/2 “drill bit now to bore a hole through the boards where the dots are placed.
Step 4: Build the Top
Now we need to build the top of the target, which will compress the foam pieces into a solid target so that we can shoot them edge-on (if that doesn’t make sense, look at the finished target picture and take note of the foam pieces ‘ orientation). Take the remaining 2x4s (you should have 2 3′ long pieces and 2 1’ long pieces) and use a few more screws to create the shape you see in the first picture. There are 8 “of board on both sides. Use the base as a guide to drill 4 more 1/2” holes in the top piece after you make the shape. It’s important to line up the holes.
Step 5: Add the Threaded Rods
Now to put in the base the threaded rods. Lean the base on the side of it and put in the holes the threaded rods. Then put a 1/2 “washer on the underside of the base, then a 3/8” washer, then a 3/8 “nut on the end of each rod. Screw in the nut until approximately one inch of threaded rod sticks past each nut.
Step 6: Add the Foam
Stack the pieces of your foam as you see in the picture. Make sure they’re all lined up to make the target’s surface relatively smooth. Slide the top piece over the threaded rods when you’re done with that.
Step 7: Compress the Foam
We’re nearly done, but this is a tedious and time-consuming step, so be prepared. You need to screw the nuts on the threaded rods now. To make it easier, I don’t recommend cutting off the extra few feet of the threaded rods because it can screw things up. It’s very hard to get a threaded rod clean enough that it doesn’t mess up the threads and make it impossible to get the nut to go on, especially with a grinder. If you’re using a hacksaw, making the cuts will take you longer than just screwing the nuts all the way down. Use a sharpie to make a mark to show how far down the nuts are on the threaded rods once you think you’re done just to be sure they might lift up another inch or two.
Now, take the locking pliers and lock them to the threaded rod to prevent spinning as seen in the third picture. Use your spanner wrench to tighten the nuts on each rod, do a little bit on each rod, then move to the next one until you compress the foam several inches down, which you can see by looking at the marks on the threaded rods. You want it to be sufficiently compressed to prevent it from moving at all, but not enough to remove your arrows. You may need to shoot a couple of arrows and adjust the nuts accordingly.
Step 8: Cut Off the Extra Threaded Rod
This next step is pretty straightforward: take your hacksaw or grinder and cut off the threaded rods a few inches above the marks you made before the foam was compressed.
Step 9: Finished!
Now slap your target and shoot! If arrows start sinking into the center of the target to the point where they stick the back, simply loosen the nuts on the threaded rods, pull out the foam, rearrange it to move the pieces of foam on top and bottom to the center and tighten the nuts down. For at least the first half twelve times you do this, the target will be as good as new, and will outstrip any other target.
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