Homemade Archery Butts

by Gary Proulx
A bale of hay makes a great archery butt.

A bale of hay makes a great archery butt.

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Making homemade archery target butts is a fun way to save some money on an accessory that every archer needs. A target butt is used behind a target, to stop an arrow. Consideration must be given to using a material that stops arrows, but still allow them to penetrate. If the target butt is too soft, the arrow penetrates too deeply and the fletching is damaged. If the material is too hard, the arrow is bent or broken upon impact.

Hay Bale

One of the best archery butts available is a square hay bale. Square bales are inexpensive and they can be placed at various locations around the yard. The density of a hay bale is perfect for stopping an arrow. The compacted hay grabs the shaft securely without damaging it. Hay bales will stop even the fastest carbon arrow. Another advantage of hay bales is that they are able to stop broad arrowheads reasonably well.


When newspaper is folded and then stacked together and tied, it works well as a target butt. This requires a lot of newspaper, but it is relatively cost-effective. A bundle of newspaper is surprisingly heavy. It will easily stop any arrow, if the bundle is thick enough. The disadvantage of this type of target butt is that it is not water-resistant. It has to be brought inside after every shooting session.


Many outdoor archery ranges employ dirt piles because they require no maintenance. There are some disadvantages to this approach. If the dirt becomes compacted the arrow will be deflected. It is also extremely tough on arrows. It quickly wears the anodizing off an aluminum shaft. When constructing a dirt-pile target butt, use only clean dirt that is free of rocks. Some archers use sand instead of dirt, but this is even more abrasive to the arrow shaft.

Foam Cushions

A lot of people throw out old couches and chairs. The foam on these pieces of furniture hold up surprisingly well as target butts. The foam is light-density but it grips an arrow shaft adequately enough to stop most. Foam cushions are light enough that they can be thrown anywhere the archer wants them; this allows him to continuously shoot at new angles and greater distances.


  • "Instinctive Shooting'; G. Fred Asbell; 1988

About the Author

Gary Proulx has been writing since 1980. He specializes in automotive technology and gasoline and diesel design. Proulx has had multiple articles published on various websites. He is also an archery expert who writes about the ins and outs of archery as a sport.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images