By Erik Barber
Warm weather and longer days make a great recipe for fun times with archery gear. Whether you prefer competing head-to-head with other archers at tournaments or duping a loudmouthed tom turkey in the woods, you’ll find endless opportunities in spring and summer to get outdoors with your bow.
With a safe backstop, a small space, and a little creativity you can build your own backyard archery range. Assuming it’s legal to shoot archery outdoors where you live, start by installing a large backstop behind your target, which should be placed so you can’t shoot toward houses, sidewalks, parks or other occupied places.
You’ll have many options for targets, but choose a portable model that stops arrows on impact, preventing them from passing through. Once you place your target and backstop, you can enjoy archery in your backyard. Get creative by arrowing water balloons or playing archery’s version of tic-tac-toe.
Archery leagues are a fun way to sharpen your skills and make friends with more archers. Visit pro shops to find a weekly or biweekly league that offers 3D targets, indoor 5-spot, or both. Shooting regularly also hones your form and shooting habits.
Whether you want to compete for the podium or just have fun at the range, competitive shoots are great destinations for spring or summer vacations. If you can’t find one nearby, gather a few friends, register for a distant event, and hit the road. You’ll get to network with other archers while enjoying a friendly competition, and you’ll return home with valuable insights and shooting tips. Various archery brands and businesses support these events by donating products and promotional items for a robust prize table, which often covers your entry fee.
If you’re a hunter at heart and covet more time afield with your bow, buy a turkey tag. Turkeys are a unique bowhunting challenge, and few things match the excitement of a gobbling tom marching into bow range in full strut. If you prefer to wait in ambush, set up a blind and stake a decoy or two in front of it. If you’d rather explore new country, and you have all day to hike, leave the blind at home and sneak around the landscape while listening for gobbling toms. When you strike one, crawl into the nearest cover, sit tight, and call in the lonely gobbler.
Spring also means fishing for most of the country, which means archers can share the action, too. Bowfishing setups resemble other bow-and-arrow combinations, but you keep the arrow connected to the bow after each shot by using a fishing reel and line tied to the arrow-point. In most states, you can shoot carp and alligator gar with bowfishing tackle. When conditions are right, you’ll shoot lots of arrows at fleeing targets as they dart from the boat’s path. Whether you’re a bowfishing fanatic or backyard archer, you’ll quickly learn that time on the water is time well spent.