Picture of DIY Archery Target - Puzzle Mats
i'm new to archery and i just got my own bow. i'd like to shoot at home but unfortunately the straw targets offered from the range won't fit in a car or cab, so i have to DIY.

i built this thing for about 2 days. 1 day is enough, but i ran out of materials and the store's closed.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
forgive me... i have a bad habit of crafting things without planning. this instructable would just serve as an idea for you in case you wanna make one. you can make use of your own specifications if you wish.

[1.] 1" x 1" x 10" wood (i used about 4 pieces of these)
[2.] 1" nails
[3.] 2" nails
[4.] wood glue
[5.] wood putty
[6.] sand paper or electric sander
[7.] 3" x 3" x 10" wood (i used about 2 pieces)
[8.] 4 pieces of casters/wheels
[9.] plastic mesh or chicken wire
[10.] puzzle mats
[11.] metal angle braces
[12.] carpet (1m x 1m) - the ones used for car trunks
[13.] varnish or wood paint (optional)

LoloyM26 days ago
Hi do you.think can rubber mat, suffice? Even tho no carpet on the face? Thanks
tukmol (author)  LoloyM17 days ago
yes, the carpet as the face is just optional, just to make things neat.
viper22602 months ago
Awesome idea great configuration! Built 10 and love them. I will say they had to be tripled to use the Bowtech RPM 3360 but catches everything else fine. Oh it does catch broad heads fine. Do not shoot them with Head Hunters for turkey. And DO NOT USE BARNETT's Ghost 410 cross bow on them they pass through like they have hit nothing. Anyway outstanding!! Super big thumbs up!! Heck of allot better than spending 199.00 for a closed foam. Thank you for posting.
tukmol (author)  viper22602 months ago
thank you, Viper2260!

Ghost 410.... wow. (me drooling)
viper22602 months ago
Oh yea harbor freight is the place to snatch these up for next to nothing. Or Craigslist I was able to get 70 4x4 pads for 10 bucks
alex20192 months ago
Will this stop a broadhead or not?
Great idea have all rhe stuff at home but want to use my broad head for practice Too
tukmol (author)  alex20192 months ago
oh, no... i believe it can't. sorry.
zacker4 months ago

very cool idea... another thing that makes a good target is a huge cardboard box filled with news paper... when I was little my older brother bought an old crossbow and he took a big box, stacked news papers inside it unlit the box would hardly close, then he flipped the box onto its side so when he shot it, the arrows were going into the bottom of the box because the news papers were stacked flat the arrow couldn't penetrate them. if he had shot the side of the box, the arrow may have been able to sort of wedge itself between the pages and penetrate the target. It worked rather well.

tukmol (author)  zacker4 months ago
yup, i believe it should, that's a good idea too. and very economical. thanks for the input.

i used to collect all the used A4 paper from the office, before they shred them. stacked and taped them all up really tight. it stopped the arrows with a really heavy thud. a little hard to pull them out though.
zacker tukmol4 months ago
didn't think of using the "waste" office paper...good idea! I heard some people say that some of the gun smiths will use layered Phone books as a back stop for testing guns. A 4 or 5 phone book thick back stop would probably stop a 55MM mortar shell....lol
tukmol (author)  zacker4 months ago


did the phone book target too... epic! :D


zacker tukmol4 months ago

cool.... Looks like it worked great. now if you flipped it over so you were shooting at the top of it, you could use a gun and as long as you hit the target, those bullets aren't going anywhere. lol

ggriffith16 months ago

I use a wall section from an old coolroom (from the tip) I removed one of the metal sides leaving 6 inches of polystyrene foam and a metal back. Some of my shots penetrated the metal back. Adding a layer of old carpet or two prevents this. I needed a large target because there's no safe backstop in my backyard. With a coolroom wall of about 4 by 7 feet I can keep even the really bad shots in the yard from my longest range of 35 yards.

A layer or two of old carpet will capture the arrow, and a couple of loosely hung layers of shade cloth a few inches behind the carpet will stop full penetration.

I use a 50lb recurve bow, but this works with a 65lb compound as well.

tukmol (author)  ggriffith16 months ago

hi, thanks for your input. good work on that ggriffith1. i think i'll consider modifying my backstop when i get home.

pavulurirao6 months ago

I know this is a DIY site. However, I tried many things including using 2'X2' tiles. But finally ended up buying the target from Lancaster Archery in PA. The 2' diameter targets are less than 100 + shipping (Shipping is a lot). The 4' diameter targets are about $300. If you really want to use the targets properly, I would suggest to use those targets. I ended up paying a lot more and these did not lot long. My son shredded the targets within a week. The other targets are going about 1.5 years so far. The center cores of the bigger targets can be replaced with smaller target...The other problem is the arrows may pass through depending on your weight of the bow. Nice try through...

tukmol (author)  pavulurirao6 months ago

hi pavulurirao. thank you for the suggestion. i live in the Philippines where archery is really not that mainstream, therefore not much local dealers for proper targets and stuffs. i do have one range that i shoot at, but of course given the situation, targets are expensive, or had to be ordered form the US, etc. which would cost more.

Got it. One other suggestion is to get a very dense self healing foam similar to the one you got and may be denser, and stack them up on top of the other and use the SIDE of the stack as your target. Not the face. You will get much better longevity for the target. .

Other best and cheapest is to get the hay block that is tightly packed and use it as non movable target. I know it is heavy and all. But the hay stack might last much longer. Just IMHO. Good luck with your shooting.
ShallNOTBeI8 months ago

Great idea, Tukmol! One suggestion, though; If you happen to hit one of the puzzle seams your may get a pass-through.

The fix is to offset every two or three layers. Just slice a row of the puzzle pieces in half and assemble like a brick wall. I encountered this particular problem while sighting in a crossbow.

These are great because when the target starts to wear out you can restack and move around the beat up pieces a few times before needing to replace any. This also works well on a smaller scale as a bb and pellet trap. They always seem to penetrate to the same depth so mining the trap for lead pellets to recast is a snap!

tukmol (author)  ShallNOTBeI7 months ago
hey, great idea. thanks!
awaite1 year ago

Fuuuuuuu I just threw out a whole heap of these last week, why didn't I see this earlier.

What model Who makes them ?
tukmol (author)  megabeastmode5551 year ago
it's from Mathews. Model is a Conquest 4.
What type of bow is it?
tukmol (author)  megabeastmode5551 year ago
it's a compound bow.
TruFord1 year ago
First off this is an amazing idea. I started looking to buy the supplies to make this and I stumbled upon these and wanted your opinion.


Do you think these would make a better center/core? This way you could the replace the core once its worn down. Thought id kick the idea around a bit before I try it.
tukmol (author)  TruFord1 year ago
hi! sorry for the late reply. that actually is a good idea...though, are there any "cores only" being sold? Or you still have to buy the whole square as replacement?

either way...as a visual aid, it would also be beneficial to improve groupings!
TruFord tukmol1 year ago
To my knowledge they don't sell the circles separately but you could easily stuff the score with another material (cardboard, another type of foam, ect) It would just need to be cut or rolled into the same size circle. This way you can easily replace the major wear area on your target.
tukmol (author)  TruFord1 year ago
i'm thinking of a rolled up rubber mat / sheet as a replacement. there you would have a spiral center that would stop arrows.
TruFord tukmol1 year ago
I think that would make a pretty awesome core/replacement. Perhaps something like a yoga mat (or two/three) rolled tightly together to fill the space. Its a pretty good idea.
tukmol (author)  TruFord1 year ago
yeah... a cheap yoga mat would do just fine, i believe!
john32 years ago
great project this one is a must try for me, thnx
tukmol (author)  john32 years ago
hey, thanks john!
john32 years ago
great project this one is a must try for me, thnx
joebro19952 years ago
Hey! This DIY target sounds fascinating however I don't know if it's suitable for me. I have just started archery a few months ago and I'm still shooting with my 22 pound PSE snake bow. Will my target arrows even penetrate compacted and layered puzzle mats?
tukmol (author)  joebro19952 years ago
thank you! yes... it will penetrate. puzzle mats are soft but will stop even a 90 pounder when stacked.

tjlavelle3 years ago
I used this idea with a slight mod: use 4 colors of mat for the target cut circles out of them and glue them together for a nice target
tukmol (author)  tjlavelle3 years ago
hey, that's great. a good idea indeed.
thanks, it works really well, attach 2 fence posts to the back and prop it up with a third one and it will stand with the front facing slightly upwards. I am in the process of making an instructable
tukmol (author)  tjlavelle3 years ago
and i'm waiting to see that. :)
a good target face is spray painting a stencile on shade cloth, i've got a couple of bucks like this with a red bull.
tukmol (author)  it_dont_work3 years ago
sounds like a good deal, thanks for this idea!

G'Day Mate

Great idea

You may have said but I can’t seem to find it.

What poundage are you shooting at this target and how close were you when you fired.

I’m shooting 62poinds, well I use to, and my arrows are mighty thin.
I’d hate to see them go shooting out the other side and pin a little lam to the tree stump.

Although I am mighty hungry atm.

tukmol (author)  broken board3 years ago
good day!

was shooting at 60 pounds from 10 meters.
neroweed3 years ago
awesome idea i'll surely use it with your kind permission!!
to avoid arrows passing trough target , maybe u should think about creating shock dissipation zones alterning your foam mats with : corrugated cardboard box (adequate size ) stuffed loosely with surmentioned heavy duty wrapping film , old t shirts blankets or any (gonna trash it ) fabric , plastic bags bubble wraps and anything (clean) plastic hanging round the trashbin (recycle!!) . excellent alternative to cardboard box is woven plastic sacks ( the kind used for animal dry foods or army sandbags , woven plastic let the arrow penetrate with minimal to no ripping using field points not broad heads :) and is tough enough to endure a lot of target practice!!) , on the fita training field we also used them filled with nylon foil ( kinda cheap tarp material) folded several times to a half inch tick plate , hanged loose on the back of half rotten straw targets they saved my (70 lbs propelled , point blank range) precious arrows!!
tukmol (author)  neroweed3 years ago
sure, no problem go ahed. ;)

yes, good i dea. i agree with you. i think i'll do with the corrugated cardboard boxes. precious arrows indeed. thank you!
mntbkrguy4 years ago
Great build! I have been planning to make a target for a while now. I was curious how it is holding up? I also wanted to ask if you thought of cutting them in half and stacking them so the arrows could slide between the layers making it last longer before replacing the mats.
tukmol (author)  mntbkrguy4 years ago
hey, thanks!

well, it's holding up quite well. though i have to shoot at different areas (relocate targets) so that i won't destroy a certain area immediately. otherwise, i have to disassemble and rearrange the mats to distribute the worn out pieces among the good ones. yet it will still take some time before i buy new puzzle mats to replace the whole thing. sometimes when I get lazy, i slide in corrugated cardboards in between the puzzle mats to make it stronger (adds a good sound too, rather than the usual "thud").

yes, you got a point there, thank you! i'll try layering them next time.

excellent grouping in step 6 :P
tukmol (author)  BuffaloNickel4 years ago
thank you very much! :)
red-king6 years ago
just looked up your bow. I can't afford that. but I already have a 45# martin jaguar TD recurve bow. It's been pretty good so far. this is a good Instructable for some cheap targets. when my target wears out I'll probably make one to use until I can get a new target. Also... I'm wondering why there's no Instructables around about how to make a quiver....
tukmol (author)  red-king4 years ago
hey thanks!

quiver... here's one: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Hunter-Quiver/?ALLSTEPS
Take a look at this an see what you think.


Comments are encouraged and welcome.
No instructable for quivers? That is weird..  How bout a simple vinyl circle with 3 PVC tubes? And a ring for belt. 
 I ended up just buying a Vista hip quiver... but I still would like something that looks more "classic"...
code99994 years ago
I've heard puzzle mats can be found at dollar stores for $1 each or so.
purplewg4 years ago
Where do you find puzzle mats and what should I expect to pay? Thanks
tukmol (author)  purplewg4 years ago
depends on your location. if you're in the US, Walmart might have it. i bought mine from a hardware store, through you could also find these on kiddie department sotres too.

you've got to have many layers of these, i think mine's 20, i don't remember. it can definitely stop an arrow, and it can be pulled out easily too. good sidea are you can immediately make a wide area to shoot at, and it's easy to replace/shuffle when deteriorated.

i'm using mine now as a backstop for another DIY target i made.
zack attack5 years ago
how much $$ does it cost total?
tukmol (author)  zack attack5 years ago
hi zack. sorry i dont have my files here with me, but it didn't reach more than $50 as far as i can remember. i'll inform you again when i get back home.
ok and thanks for spelling my name right.:)
p0g0685 years ago
 very nice ,very useful instructable  i will make new targets using some of your advice thank you!
tulekah6 years ago
i found puzzle-mats (i didn't know they were called puzzle-mats. i've been calling them kids-foam-letter-thingys for years) and a 4x4 gunny sack at a thrift store. three layers of squares glued together with foam spray glue inside the gunny sack works great. however i worried about arrows zippig thru and so i use cardboard boxes filled with used pallet wrapping film, looks like heavy duty saran wrap. a two foot layer will stop any arrow dead.
tukmol (author)  tulekah6 years ago
sometimes they're called foam tiles. wow... good idea! i'll modify mine right away.
fascist6 years ago
Nice and neat. I'm using hay bails with cardboard packing boxes over them with my longbow.
Kevvixx6 years ago
One of the best in a while! Awesome!
hg3416 years ago
nice this looks very well donei wish i had a bow....
tukmol (author)  hg3416 years ago
hey, thanks!