It’s not uncommon for the hunter to try to buy the best quality items they can afford. This can be said for optics, compound bows, hiking boots and alike. However, this sentiment does not always carry over to archery targets; especially broadhead-specific targets.
Archery targets are not all created equal, which is definitely the case when you factor in broadhead-handling capabilities. Skimping out on a basic target setup, not specifically designed for broadheads, can result in not only repeat target purchases due to rapid deterioration, but also have negative effects on your broadheads and arrows.
As with most pieces of hunting gear and accessories, it can be hard to understand the differences between quality and purpose of these items, especially for the uninitiated.
In this buyer’s guide, we dive into the key types of broadhead targets, the primary differences between them, and which ones may be best for the purpose in which you intend to use it.
The 7 Best Broadhead Targets
Big Shot Titan 16
The Big Shot Titan 16 is a premium high-speed target for crossbows and compounds shooting up to 500fps. It features elasto-flex self-healing foam extending the life of your targets for thousands of shots, while its tapered design that matches the shooting plane of an archer allows you to focus on the function of every aspect from setup, tuning, and aiming.
The five tuning faces permit easy arrow removal when hunting or practicing at home with competitive targets. The tapered design also makes this block super portable and lightweight.
Morrell Yellow Jacket Dual Threat (YJ-380)
These Morrell Dual Threat Targets (YJ-380) are solidly constructed, easy to use, and you’re ensured a lifetime of shooting enjoyment. A huge benefit of using this target is that it can be used for recurve bow arrow use as well as high power crossbows and compound bows, making it the go-to archery block target on today’s market.
It includes handles at either side for carrying with ease but also comes with a durable chain lock/sling to hang or secure the target in place without the hassle of ladder adjustments. Durable life expectancy ensures long-term value.
GlenDel 3D Buck Target
GlenDel 3D Buck Target is a high-quality archery target designed to simulate a natural buck in all its glory.
GlenDel 3D Buck Target has the body size of an average 200 Lb buck and includes 6 inch targets on back measure 1000 sq inches.
The insert core is replaceable, so you can keep shooting with this bad boy. Look no further if you are looking for a life-size deer target that will be sure to impress.
Field Logic – The Block Classic 18
The Block Classic 18 is a 2-sided archery target that measures 18x18x14. It is also available in 20 and 22 inch models.
It features an easy arrow removal system due to its open layer design, making bending over for long periods of time unnecessary and reducing stress on the shooter’s back and shoulders while maintaining a solid level of protection for you from arrows.
With visibility provided by the high contrast white on black aiming points, shooting at this model can be done clearer than ever before, regardless of whether it is during the day or night.
When you have to shoot hundreds of arrows on one target, or if your course is severely lacking space for shooting–the 18-1 Rinehart Broadhead Target is the perfect solution.
This rugged cube-shaped crossbow target features 18 different faces to keep you from getting bored or complacent and varies in difficulty.
Designed for traveling or field shoots, up to 500 FPS shots but as well as 5 targets which can take field points, expandables and even sharp points such as Carbon Express Maxima SE bolts.
Why Do I Need a Broadhead Target?
Most archers and hunters will do the bulk of their practice using field points, which can be done with a basic target setup or target bag. It is important though for the hunter to also have the opportunity to practice shots using the broadhead and arrow setup they intend on using in the field.
Even at the same grain weight, field points and broadheads fly differently due to the additional surface area of the broadhead, resulting in changes to wind resistance, drag, and rotation of the arrow. Between broadheads and field points, it is not uncommon to find a difference of 1 inch at 30 yards as a result of these factors. As we all know, an inch or two on an animal can determine whether or not your hunt is successful.
Targets that are designed to handle field points, but not broadheads, can result in excessive and unnecessary damage to both the target and the arrow. Broadhead targets however are made out of stronger, more resilient material which is able to handle the cutting power of the broadhead, even with repeated shots. Some broadhead targets are designed to handle beyond 1000 shots, whereas a non-broadhead target has the potential to be destroyed in a busy afternoon.
Types of Broadhead Targets
There are three main styles of archery targets: bag targets, foam blocks and 3D practice targets. Each of these targets have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some targets offer a more hunting-realistic practice opportunity, whilst others are designed specifically for durability and/or portability.
These targets are most often used for field point target practice. Although some companies have designed bag targets capable of handling the speed of crossbow bolts, there are very few able to handle the force and cutting of repeated shots with broadhead blades. Bags tend to be reasonably affordable, and very portable, but lack of the durability of the other targets options in the list.
- Cheaper than the other options (on initial purchase).
- Light and portable – easy to take from home to field.
- Not often to be broadhead capable and compatible.
- Susceptible to damage more than the other options.
- Has a tendency to move or shift with each shot if not held down.
Probably the most commonly used broadhead target, the foam block is a durable, yet still practical option for your bowhunting practice. They tend to be reasonably affordable and still very practical for transporting between house, yard, car and even into the field for those pre-hunt confidence shots.
- More durable for broadheads than the other target options.
- Reasonable weight and portability – from home to field.
- Arrows and broadheads are generally quite easy to remove.
- Often come with self-healing and weather-resistant properties.
- More expensive than a basic target bag setup.
- Target less tailored to real hunting simulation practice.
3D Practice Target
Most 3D practice targets are designed to resemble the animal or animals in which you intend to hunt. They can be full size, for realistic shooting, or reduced size, especially in the case of larger game. Due to the complexity of the design and the overall size, these tend to be the most expensive target option. Most of these 3D targets have a replaceable insert in the area of the vital organs as this is the area likely to be receiving the brunt of most practice shots.
- Designed to closely simulate size and shot placement of real game species.
- Provides visuals and angles familiar to actual hunting scenarios.
- Vital organ region replacement inserts available for purchase.
- Can be staked into the ground which allows for practice on uneven terrain.
- The most expensive of the broadhead target options.
- Low level of portability due to awkwardness of size and shape.
- More susceptible to damage in transport and moving (limbs, antlers etc).
- As the same area is shot at consistently, part replacement can be required more often.
Side Note: Paper Targets
Paper targets and hay bales may do an alright job for the casual archer, using traditional or recurve bows with field points but is not a viable target option for shooting broadheads, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the nature of and size of the broadhead is likely to result in a very quickly torn up piece of paper. Secondly, because broadheads are not cheap to continually replace, it is in the shooter’s best interest to get a target that will effectively stop the arrow without causing any damage. Hay bales may make for either a difficult retrieval or a complete passthrough which can cause potential damage to the arrow out the back.
The cheaper archery target bag options are mostly made from synthetic materials; designed to be cheaper and lighter. Although they may serve the purpose for the occasional field point shooting sessions, for broadhead shooting it is recommended to get a target made of high density foam.
Foam will not only reduce the damage to the target made by the blades of the broadheads, but should be strong enough to stop the arrow within the target, minimizing the risk of a pass-through and potential damage to the arrow fletchings. The foam targets are layered in a way where the arrows are designed to be progressively slowed down, dispersing the energy throughout the bag rather than back through the arrow.
Many foam block targets these days are made with “self-healing” foam, which means that rather than continuing to break apart with each shot and slice through the target, the foam closes back in on itself after arrow removal, to retain the shape and structure of the target.
An archery target’s durability is primarily determined by the materials, as mentioned above. However, there are some additional considerations to make when factoring in which target to purchase, depending on how and when you wish to use it. One of these considerations is whether or water resistance.
Many of us live and hunt in areas of either extreme or highly variable climates. Having the opportunity to hunt or practice in all conditions is valuable, but means that our gear needs to hold up under these conditions; to not get damaged, destroyed, or have their functionality change as a result. Having a target that is able to withstand some level of rain, snow, cold or heat means we can spend more time practicing and less money replacing targets.
Broadhead archery targets come in different forms, sizes, shapes, and designs. This results in different levels of portability. Generally, they are designed to be lightweight enough to carry around or to easily transport, especially when looking at the bag and foam block options; many of which come with a carry strap on the top of the target.
The 3D practice target options are the clear exception to this rule. Given the fact that they are designed to replicate real game species, these are often much larger and awkwardly shaped when considering moving and transporting them. These targets are not often not too heavy, but the bulkiness and design (primarily the limbs and antlers) make it more susceptible to damage in transit.
For these reasons, the 3D targets are often set up in back yards and covered for weather protection, as opposed to the bag and block options which are usually kept inside and carried into the back yard or woods whenever needed.
While initial costs may vary, an overlooked concept from time to time is: ongoing cost. In this situation the “buy once, cry once” motto, similar to most other hunting equipment, also applies to broadhead targets in some capacity.
While you may find bag targets at around the $50 mark, block foam targets around the $120 mark, and 3D targets at around $200 and above, we need to consider product longevity and replacement cost.
The less durable for broadheads, and the less suited to your specific shooting needs, the more you will have to either replace the target itself or at least replace any inserts or covers. Based on the basic comparison of cost versus broadhead shots taken, the foam block targets tend to come out in front.
The size of your broadhead target is another factor to consider. Whilst most of them (in their respective styles) come in a consistent sizing, there is still access to a couple of different size options. There are three main factors related to size that you can use to your benefit.
One is the fact that a larger target is easier to hit. This is especially important for those who are inexperienced with shooting a bow and may require a little more room for error. An arrow shot just wide of a smaller target, that would normally disappear into the brush or get blown up on some rocks, could instead catch itself on the edge of the target.
A slightly larger target, especially one with more shooting marks or aiming points, means less damage to a single area. The more you can disperse your shots across and around the target, the longer the target should last.
Thirdly, and this is especially relevant to the 3D animal targets, is that with the additional size comes additional height.
While most other targets either need to be sat on the ground or propped up on something to gain elevation, the 3D target is standing at a height more familiar to a natural shooting stance and to a real-life hunting scenario.
Pattern / Imagery
Targets come in a variety of colors, contrasts, and aiming point configurations. Ideally, you want to have a target that is easy to see, especially when you’re trying to focus on a specific point whilst aiming through the eyelet and sight of your bow first.
Having clearly marked and well contrasted markings on the target helps to make sure you can see where you need to aim, especially during periods of changing light conditions.
Most foam block and bag targets come with a dot pattern to provide multiple points of aim. Some foam blocks will have an image on the side of an animal and its vital organ area to give the idea of replicating a shot on an animal. These can either be realistic in size or scaled-down, depending on the game species it is replicating and/or the size of the broadhead target itself.
On the 3D animal targets, the animal vitals area is the primary aim point and is usually marked out with either a realistic organ design, or an oval-shaped bullseye pattern to simulate the organ area.
One other consideration to factor in when choosing the right broadhead target is how you wish to practice your shooting. For working on basic archery form and consistency, a foam block design pattern with multiple bullseyes would be the preference as you have the ability to continue to place on multiple shots on multiple aim points, dispersing the load across and around the target.
If you wish to start to practice scenarios with more familiarity to real hunting, then it would be beneficial to look at target options that involve imagery of animal vitals, with less contrast; to make for a more realistic shot placement challenge. Obviously the 3D animal targets are great for this, but there are also some foam block targets available that display animal vital patterns.
Broadhead targets these days are built quite well, using durable materials, and have additional technology incorporated into it such as weatherproof or self-healing foam.
That said, it is still important to take proper steps to care for your target, for your arrows and broadheads. Here are a few key pointers to help improve the longevity of your gear.
Keep it out of the weather: Yes, many of the targets have a level of weatherproofing or waterproofing to them. However, that does not mean it is in the target’s best interest to sit out in the rain and snow all winter.
These products, although they may handle the occasional rainy shooting session, will still have their quality deteriorated with continual exposure to the elements. For targets that can be moved indoors, it is recommended to do so. Otherwise, for targets like the 3D practice targets, they should at least be covered up when not in active use.
Use the correct projectiles: Similar to how many bag targets are not designed to handle the repeated cutting power of razor sharp broadheads, some of these broadhead-specific bags are not designed to be shot at by crossbows or other firearms.
The additional power and different structures of these other projectiles can create greater damage to the target beyond what the design and material was designed to handle.
Don’t pull out arrows too forcefully: Arrows can get stuck from time to time, or feel like they are lodged into the target. During these situations over-forcing the arrow can result in damage to either the broadhead or the arrow shaft by having it bend or move into areas and positions it does not otherwise wish to go.
Take your time and slowly and firmly pull your arrows out of the target. A bent arrow or broadhead becomes an unusable one.
Replacement parts: As mentioned earlier in this buyers guide, many broadhead targets came with the capability of having their inserts or covers replaced. This helps to keep down the replacement costs, reducing the need to swap out the entire unit, and instead only the parts on the receiving end of the greatest amount of wear.
Transportation: The bag and foam block targets are very easy to transport, with very little that can go wrong during the moving and handling process. The 3D targets though have a few parts more susceptible as a result of not only the bulkiness, but the nature in which they protrude. Some of these targets can be deconstructed better than others, making for easier moving, but with most things in life; the more moving parts, the more that can potentially go wrong.
Bowhunting is a difficult pursuit requiring the hunter to put in hours of shooting practice to uphold a decent level of precision and consistency. Shooting with field points is a great way to retain form and build competency, but eventually we need to release a few broadheads onto the target. Broadheads fly differently to field points, even when they weigh the same grain, so we need to be sure that when hunting are shots are going to hit where we need them to hit.
Standard bag targets, although serviceable for field points, do not hold up very long when trying to withstand the slicing power of broadhead blades. This is where a good quality broadhead-specific archery target comes into play. Understanding these differences between target types, designs, and material quality will help you to ensure you get the right target for your use.