How to Set Up a Primitive Shooting Range

by Don Kress
Primative shooting practice can usually be done in your own backyard.

Primative shooting practice can usually be done in your own backyard. Images

Primitive shooting ranges are for target shooting using primitive weapons such as recurve bows and compound bows. They must incorporate some of the same safety features found in traditional shooting ranges, but can be set up much more easily due to the reduced need for a bullet-stopping embankment. A primitive shooting range requires only that you have a backing for your targets that will allow you to retrieve your arrows quickly and easily.

Items you will need

  • Lawn mower
  • Ax
  • Hay bales
  • Archery targets
Step 1

Mark the boundaries of your primitive shooting range with stakes to give you an idea of its overall dimensions. Your shooting range does not need to be wide, but it should be long. The minimum range length should be approximately 100 yards, while the width should be 2 yards for every target you intend to set up. If you shoot with a recurve bow rather than a compound bow, you can practice effectively on a range that is 50 to 75 yards long.

Step 2

Clear away any underbrush from the area of the range, including any tree saplings. Use a lawn tractor or mower to cut back the brush or undergrowth and an ax to cut down small saplings in the way.

Step 3

Place hay bales at various distances along the range and at staggered widths from one another. When looking at the bales from downrange, they should appear to be side by side, rather than in front of one another. Place one at the very end of the primitive range, another halfway between where you will shoot and the end of the range, another halfway between the two hay bales you've already placed and one last hay bale positioned halfway between your shooting position and the hay bale at the halfway point of the range. This configuration will give you four distances at which to shoot.

Step 4

Affix an archery target to the center of each of the hay bales at which you will shoot. This step can be done using sticks you sharpen with the ax.

Tips & Warnings

  • Orient the primitive shooting range so that it is well away from your neighbors' homes or areas where people may cross into or behind the range. Ideally, the end of the range should be backed by an uninhabited wooded area.


  • "Beginner's Guide to Traditional Archery"; Brian Sorrells; 2004
  • "The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Volume 1"; Jim Hamm; 2000
  • "Traditional Archery: 2nd Edition"; Sam Fadala; 2011

Photo Credits

  • Images