A few weeks back I got this crazy notion that I wanted to Build a Backyard Archery Range. While it would never compare to what Stowe Archers and Hamburg Game Association have to offer, it would give me a place to shoot a few arrows when I’m short on time.
As soon as the weather breaks and I no longer have to deal with snow on the ground, my plan is to build an elevated target. This will give me the opportunity to shoot Spots and focus on accuracy. To mix things up a bit, I also wanted to get my hands on a 3D Deer so that I could practice simulated hunting shots.
The elevated target should theoretically be the easy part. The cost of materials should be fairly inexpensive and I’m capable of building it without issue. The difficult part was finding a quality 3D Deer Target that would fit my budget and hold up for two to three years.
I quickly discovered that there isn’t a very large selection of realistic foam animals for under $100. After lots of price comparisons, I was about ready to throw in the towel and pick up a Dick’s Swamp Buck for $99. I wasn’t thrilled with the target but it was half the cost of a Rinehart or R&W Target.
While out to breakfast at Hamburg Game Association, I got a hot tip on a $99 Rinehart Woodland Buck in the Cabela’s Bargain Cave. When my daughter and I were finished eating, we made the quick trip over to Cabela’s to check it out.
The Rinehart Woodland Buck wasn’t a very big deer (it simulates a 100 pounds) but the size was perfect for my little Backyard Archery Range. I had a couple of minor issues with the target but when my daughter’s eyes lit up, I knew that it was coming home with us.
When we got home, my daughter wasted no time and just had to get it out of the box and into the yard. The target is basically a body, head, and a set of antlers. We had the deer unpacked and setup in about a minute.
Bang for the Buck
Rinehart 3D Archery Targets typically command a steep price, especially the more exotic animals (such as the dinosaur). As I understand it, part of the cost is due to the soft self-healing foam that Rinehart uses. This particular foam makes arrow removal easy and holds up well to weather and repeated arrow shots.
The Rinehart Woodland Buck is a more modestly priced 3D Deer and I think it has a lot to do with construction. Instead of the entire animal being made up of premium foam, only the vital area is built to withstand a pounding. The remainder of the deer is a harder foam that I imagine will show wear quickly.
The only real gripe I have with the construction is that the head and antlers fit together too loosely. If you start tugging to remove an arrow and the target wobbles, there is a good chance that one, or both, of the antlers will fall out. The head isn’t nearly as bad but I’ve had it fall off numerous times when carrying it around my yard. I suppose a little epoxy would fix that right up but I would prefer that the fit were a bit tighter.
Shoot to Kill or Shoot to Score
There are two reasons to shoot a 3D Deer. The first is to practice making ethical shots for hunting season. The second is to practice for 3D Archery Season. I purchased the Rinehart Woodland Buck with both of those reasons in mind.
If you are practicing hunting shots, the Woodland Buck is a great target. One side of the vital has faint markings which outline the various organs. The opposite side is sculpted to make the organs much more apparent.
The downside is that neither side of the vital has ASA or IBO scoring rings. To remedy this, I used a pen to mark my own. I created a 4.75″ 10 Ring (I had a CD handy and it looked about right for size) and a 1″ 12 and 14 Ring (in this case I used a plastic end-cap for a roll of plotter paper – again, it looked about right for size).
So Far, I’m Pleased
The Rinehart Woodland Buck isn’t a very big deer, the antlers have a tendency to fall out, the vitals have no scoring zones, and the bulk of the deer isn’t made of premium foam. Despite the shortcomings of the target, I’m pretty happy with it.
I’ve only shot a handful of arrows at it thus far (I pulled a muscle in my neck and shooting a bow has only aggravated it) but I expect the target to hold up well. If it performs as well as I expect it to, I may keep my eyes out for a second Woodland Buck in the Cabela’s Bargain Cave.